Originally featured in Independent Agent
Data-driven decision-making has become an increasingly hot topic, but the correct execution of the concept can be a challenge for companies of all sizes. One key area of focus is employee benefits data.
If used correctly, this data can prompt real, actionable insights that lead to better financial decisions, higher retention, better recruitment, improved company culture, and more. But even if teams are sitting on a treasure trove of data, they may not know how to utilize it—at least not without assistance from a skilled agent who can help clients sieve through endless data and answer their questions.
If you’re looking to strengthen your relationship with your employee benefits clients, here are three strategies for gathering and deploying employee benefits data to improve both your client’s company culture and financial health:
1) Learn to ask the right questions
Like any good research study, data-driven decision-making starts with asking the right questions. It also involves avoiding pitfalls like mistaking correlation for causation, confirmation bias or simply placing too much emphasis on a data point that was ultimately insignificant.
The pressure to demonstrate a return on investment is pervasive in the decision-making process, so it’s all the more important for the data to be verified.
An organization’s HR leaders should work directly with their benefits advisors and evaluate how strongly a data point could be linked to a return on investment. Also, outcomes are calculated differently, and the process might reveal that the data they thought was valid does not apply to their organization. That can save a company from investing time and money into the wrong strategy.
2) Balance the use of data with company culture
Starting with a specific outcome in mind is key when looking to make a decision that balances employee wellness with company goals. But it’s just as important to revisit the outcome to truly understand the overall impact the decision had.
Financially motivated decisions that involve adding or removing a benefit without considering company culture can have heavy repercussions on team morale and even retention. For instance, collecting and analyzing data around the question, “What benefits are currently being over or underutilized?” can help organizations make better financial decisions.
However, it’s important that your client takes a little closer look at their team. Benefits, especially related to family planning, may be underutilized today and still be crucial for employee retention. It’s important to know the company culture at a personal, even anecdotal level, to gauge what the impact of a decision could be.
3) Streamline data sharing across teams, and verify the methodology used by the benefits provider
Training other functions across the organization to ask the right questions about employee benefits data can help them make better decisions. When different teams are looking at data with a verified methodology that applies to their teams, it makes decision-making around budget, operations, and benefits planning not just easier but more reliable.
However, methodologies from providers can differ or simply not be accessible to the user. It’s important to go deeper and ask where the data comes from. The gold standard is when providers get their data verified by a reputable third party.
Getting over the initial blocker of not knowing how to utilize employee benefits data not only helps make data-driven financial decisions but also fosters a sense of trust and loyalty in an organization.
Craig Stephens is the Chief Revenue Officer at Selerix, an industry-leading provider of benefits administration software.