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Success Story

Powering a flexible and consistent employee benefits experience at Jacobs

Health and Benefits|Total Rewards|Wellbeing
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August 3, 2021

How a modern benefits platform enabled Jacobs to harmonize its benefits across the U.K., driving higher rates of participation as well as improved governance and spend.

The challenge


Jacobs, a world-class engineering business that believes in making the world smarter, more connected and more sustainable, faced the challenge of harmonizing its benefit offerings for its 8,500 U.K. employees. The 2018 acquisition of CH2M left Jacobs with fragmented benefits whereby different entities offered different types and choices of benefits.

Moreover, most of the benefits were delivered via in-house applications, making risk management and governance difficult. Additionally, having to manage a varied mix of online and offline benefits using different vendors created a significant resource drain.

Complicating this situation, employees did not fully understand or appreciate the value of their benefits. This could be attributed in part to a communication program that required modernization.

Jacobs turned to Willis Towers Watson for help in shaping and delivering a modern online benefits experience.


Our approach


The Willis Towers Watson team began the project by holding a series of blue-sky sessions to better understand the pain points relative to Jacobs’ rewards philosophy. Jacobs was looking to implement a benefits program that included something for every employee regardless of level and seniority, and to ensure that these benefits were helping its people achieve their goals and dreams. With this understanding, the Willis Towers Watson team developed a value model that would be used to deliver a flexible benefits scheme.

At the centre of this new scheme was Benefits Access, Willis Towers Watson’ scalable, digital and global ready-to-go benefits platform. It was critical for the Willis Towers Watson team to plan and execute a seamless implementation of Benefits Access that would meet Jacobs’ objectives. To realize this goal, the team undertook a series of key activities including:

  • Conducting benefits benchmarking and audit to help ensure benefits harmonization
  • Developing a benefits matrix featuring a range of products across security and protection, health and wellbeing, and lifestyle. As appropriate, this mix of benefits included Benefits Access Ready products, pre-negotiated benefit products from best-in-market providers. The Willis Towers Watson team needed to get buy-in from Jacobs on this matter early on to ensure the right mix of benefits that would attract and retain their talent.
  • Providing different levels of functionality including easy online access to accurate benefits information, a user-friendly enrollment process and greater choice
  • Conducting onsite testing to resolve any issues quickly and efficiently before the go-live date
  • Aggregating some of the offline benefits into a single benefits hub, like Willis Towers Watson’s pension application, LifeSight.
  • Planning and executing a communication strategy using a multichannel approach in order to reach employees via their preferred communications channel. The team also updated Jacobs’ benefits guide to help employees better understand their flexible benefits and make employees aware of their new benefits portal, which would serve as a single source of benefits information.
  • Defining metrics to measure improvements
  • Streamlining incoming data feeds and consolidation of payroll files with enhanced data security.

The results


With Willis Towers Watson, we implemented a modern platform that improved employee engagement, risk management and benefits spend.”

Samantha Pickard | Benefits Partner (GB), Jacobs

By implementing the new benefits portal, Jacobs was able to move away from a fragmented, partly offline benefits program to a centralized, online, flexible benefits experience. Benefits Access became a gateway for all Jacobs’ benefits not just those sponsored by Willis Towers Watson. Moreover, Jacobs outsourced administrative tasks to Willis Towers Watson, a move which freed up HR staff to focus on more strategic endeavours, and saved both time and money.

The new platform serves as a trusted source of accurate benefits information, helping employees better understand and value their benefits. In turn, this heightened appreciation of benefits drives high engagement and participation, with over 85% of employees consistently logging into the system during enrollment cycles and actively submitting their benefit enrollment.

The simplified, flexible benefits scheme has enabled Jacobs to harmonize its benefits across the U.K., contributing to improved governance, risk management and benefits spend. In response to feedback from pulse surveys, Jacobs is now adding two to three new products a year to its benefit offerings.

Going forward Willis Towers Watson will continue to work with Jacobs in an agile manner serving as strategic advisory, broking, implementation and administration partner in an evolving benefits ecosystem.

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