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Survey Report

Delivering a high-tech, high-touch employee experience

Benefits Administration and Outsourcing Solutions|Health and Benefits|Talent|Total Rewards

April 3, 2020

Companies are looking for a deeper understanding of the needs and expectations of their workforce and are placing greater emphasis on health technology solutions.

As employers strive to integrate health and wellbeing initiatives in their EVP, they are recognizing the importance of improving the employee experience. Consequently, companies are looking to develop a deeper understanding of employee needs and expectations to guide their decision making. Additionally they’re placing a greater emphasis on identifying the health technology solutions that will enable them to address employee expectations through an engaging employee experience that combines high tech and high touch.

Prioritizing an enhanced enrollment experience and integration of wellbeing vendors

To meet employees where they are and help them make confident benefit decisions, employers plan to focus on enhancing the enrollment experience (Figure 1). While only 14% of employers plan to take measures to improve the enrollment experience in 2019, another 27% expect to do so by 2021, and 40% report ongoing actions in this area.

A growing number of employers also plan to integrate wellbeing vendors (6% in 2019 and another 35% by 2021, with 37% reporting ongoing actions). Moreover, to respond to the needs of an increasingly diverse, multigenerational employee population, employers expect to add more choice in all benefits. And to help employees select high-quality, low-cost providers and facilities, more companies plan to offer care advocacy and navigation services.

Action taken, ongoing or planned or considered by 2021 to improve the employee experience around health and well being programs was led by enhanced enrollment (81%); integrating vendors and the employee experience across all wellbeing areas (78%); and more choice in all benefits (73%).
Figure 1. Enhancing the enrollment experience and integrating wellbeing vendors become more important over the next few years

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Sample: Companies with at least 100 employees
Source: 2019 Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey

Taking a strategic approach

Creating an enhanced employee experience across all of an organization’s health and wellbeing programs requires a strategic approach, yet nearly half of employers (46%) have not formally articulated an employee experience strategy (Figure 2). And less than a fifth (17%) have an employee experience strategy that is clearly differentiated from those of their competitors and customized for critical employee groups. But companies understand the value of a differentiated and customized employee experience, and they expect to make substantial progress in this area over the short term. Almost three-quarters of employers (73%) plan to differentiate and customize their employee experience in the next three years.

An increasing number of employers also plan to assess the effectiveness of their employee experience strategy using organizational analytics. Those that spend the time and effort differentiating and customizing their employee experience are more likely to test its effectiveness. While 37% of companies in this group currently test the effectiveness of their employee experience using organizational analytics, this number is expected jump to 75% in three years.

46% of survey participants currently have no strategy for improving the employee experience; only 5% have adopted a strategy; and 17% have differentiated their employee experience strategy (although 73% expect that to be the case in 3 years). Communication and delivery on employee experience promises had the highest current showing with a 33% response.
Figure 2. Nearly half of employers have no strategy for improving the employee experience today

Sample: Companies with at least 100 employees
Source: 2019 Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey

Combining high tech and high touch

An understanding of employee needs and preferences serves as the foundation of a tech-enabled but human-centric experience. While currently slightly more than a quarter of companies (28%) use surveys, focus groups or town hall meetings to identify employees' wants and needs when designing or making changes to their programs, this number is expected to rise to 62% by 2021. A smaller but nonetheless growing group of employers is also using Net Promoter Scores to assess employee satisfaction with different components of their benefit programs. Currently, 13% of employers use Net Promoter Scores in this way, but this figure is expected to nearly triple by 2021.

Technology plays a critical role in helping employers shape an employee experience that meets employee expectations and drives desired behaviors. For that reason, over the next three years, more than half of companies (65%) will prioritize health technology solutions. They are focused on the following categories of technology tools (Figure 3):

Employers want to help employees optimize their enrollment decisions and continue that help. Those considering action is expected to jump in 2021 compared with action in 2019 (enrollment decision support-78% vs. 46%; health management tools-69% vs. 31%; treatment decision support-65% vs. 36%; and price/quality transparency tools-48% vs. 26%).
Figure 3. Employers want to help employees make optimal decisions during enrollment and throughout their health care journey

Note: *“Planning for 2020”; ^“Considering in 2021”
Sample: Companies with at least 100 employees
Source: 2019 Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey

  • Enrollment decision support
    Employers are looking to enhance the enrollment experience through the use of decision support tools that will help employees make more informed decisions with a better understanding of their increasing choices. The number of employers using enrollment decision support tools is expected to jump from 46% to 78% by 2021.
  • Health management tools
    Chronic conditions in the workplace exert a heavy toll in the form of absenteeism, lost productivity and higher health care costs. As a result, employers are focused on providing employees with apps and connected devices to help manage different health conditions or reduce health risks. The number of companies offering these types of tools is expected to increase in the next two years from 31% today to 69% in 2021.
  • Treatment decision support
    These tools help employees weigh the benefits, risks and costs of different treatment options, providing them with the support they need to make an informed decision. Currently, 36% of employers offer these tools, and this figure is expected to increase to 65% in the next two years.
  • Price/quality transparency tools
    To help employees make better decisions about where they receive care, employers are also focusing on providing price/quality tools for health services or products through carve-out vendors. Nearly half of employers (48%) expect to provide these tools by 2021, up from 26% today.
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Best Practices: employee experience
Best performers 50%, High-cost companies 37%, Best performers’ lead +13%
Figure 4a. Best performer advantage

Offer treatment decision support

Best performers 63%, High-cost companies 35%, Best performers’ lead +27%
Figure 4b. Best performer advantage

Offer recommendation tools that support enrollment decisions

Best performers 43%, High-cost companies 28%, Best performers’ lead +15%
Figure 4c. Best performer advantage

Integrate wellbeing vendors and employee experience across phyiscal, financial, emotional and social dimensions

Best performers 45%, High-cost companies 37%, Best performers’ lead +8%
Figure 4d. Best performer advantage

Offer apps and connected devices for condition management or reducing health risks

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