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Powering benefits through analytics and insights

Modernising Benefits in Asia Pacific — Part 6

Health and Benefits
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November 27, 2020

Employers can leverage data-driven analytics and insights to make smart and effective decisions about their benefit programs.

Managing benefit plans — from strategy and design, to ongoing maintenance and iterative improvements to keep up with the evolving talent strategy of the organisation — can at times be incredibly complex.

Employers are barraged with data that comes at them from different sources and platforms, both internally and externally. Escalating healthcare costs, the multigenerational workforce landscape, technological influence on employee behaviour, and a rapidly changing post-pandemic world, mean that it’s more critical than ever to drive benefits decisions through an analytical lens.

Employers currently have access to data from:

  • External sources, including benchmarks, market data, medical cost trends
  • Vendors and partners, including benefits utilisation and claims information
  • Internal sources, including employee data, demographics and program utilisation
  • Surveys and focus groups, which more and more employers are now starting to adopt

Data is truly the new oil – but the question is, how can employers harness it?

Data is truly the new oil – but the question is, how can employers harness it?

This article, the final piece of our six-part series on modernising benefits, focuses on how employers can leverage analytics and insights to ignite the power of their benefits, optimise their value on investment and ensure that they are offering a benefits program that is not only suited to the needs and expectations of today, but also ready for tomorrow’s workforce.

Employers’ focus on analytics is growing

Our 2019/2020 Benefit Trends Survey found that, looking ahead three years, three in 10 employers will increasingly focus on analytics and insights.

Chart showing increasing employer priorities for portfolio, financing, employee experience, operations and analytics from the past three years to the next three years, with a 29% increase in focus expected for analytics and insights.
Figure 1. Employer priorities for the next three years

With this increased focus comes a shift in how employers view data, and how they define it. Our research has found that, in the past, organisations have taken steps to understand and have oversight of current plans and employee behaviours, through:

  • Regular claims analysis
  • Auditing employee benefit programs
  • Implementing formal budgeting and approval processes for their employee benefit programs

There’s a shift in mindset towards a value on investment approach, rather than a return on investment approach.

By contrast, we are starting to see an increased desire to move towards an expanded understanding of benefits, using non-traditional metrics to evaluate how employees perceive the value of their benefits program, the ways in which they utilise their benefits, how they respond to benefits communications, and also the decision-making process for benefit selection or choices. This signals a shift of mindset towards a value on investment approach, rather than a return on investment approach:

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  • Around four in 10 employers are looking to survey employee views on benefits plans
  • Over four in 10 employers are looking to use a variety of financial and nonfinancial metrics to measure the value of their investment (VOI)
This graphic shows the actions organisations have taken with their benefit plans over the past three years and the plans for the future. With 41% of employers planning to survey their employees’ views on benefits and 43% planning to use a variety of metrics to measure VOI in future.
Figure 2. Over two-fifths of employers are looking to adopt a value on investment (VOI) approach

Emerging trends in analytics and insights

The way organisations can perform analytics and insights is changing significantly. One way as we see above is to include the use of nonfinancial as well as financial metrics, qualitative as well as quantitative data. Another has been the result of technological advancements in recent years, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. This has brought about transformative change for most sectors — and employee benefits is no exception.

Some ways analytics and insights can help

There are several innovative ways employers can (and in some cases already are) using analytics and data-driven insights to make smart decisions about their benefits programs.

  1. 01

    Avoidable claims analyses

    Employers can use in-depth claims data analysis to identify what is driving costs and take preventative steps against the most prevalent conditions. Determining which segments of the workforce are most vulnerable to which conditions allows organisations to implement better targeted prevention programs. This has the dual effect of promoting a healthier workforce and reducing overall costs by effectively spending on the prevention rather than the potential long-term treatment and consultation costs.

  2. 02

    Behavioural analytics

Organisations can tap into behaviour analytics to detect possible indications of burnout or stress. Machine learning can identify and catalogue areas such as typing speed, word choice and other small details to establish a communication ‘norm’ for a given group of employees. That same artificial intelligence can monitor the data and conduct a comparative analysis to pinpoint any details that could indicate a change in the group’s mental or emotional wellbeing. From there, organisations can focus on leveraging existing programs to prevent a worsening condition.

  1. 03

    Legislation changes

    Analytics can prepare organisations for the effects of external influences such as legislation. For example, the legislative mandates that require formal procedures for tackling mental health issues in the Philippines may necessitate changes to existing programs and plans. Using analytics tools, HR can have a holistic view of the impact to their benefits program as a result of these requirements and adjust their plans to reduce any potential negative impact.

  2. 04

    Blockchain technology

    Employers can now access a suite of solutions to support their benefits programs and overall strategies. This technology enables easier access to relevant data, improves data security and reduces manual processes. The result of such improvements can lead to greater program agility and ease of personalisation.


To read more about how to power your benefits program with analytics and insights, please download the full PDF version of this article below.

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Modernising Benefits in Asia Pacific - Part 6 PDF 1.9 MB
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