As newer generations enter the workforce, innovative benefits plan design is important to connect plan members with the resources that fulfill the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce.

During a panel at Benefits Canada’s 2019 Benefits and Pension Summit in Toronto on April 17, Wade Domries, vice-president of total rewards at Telus Corp., discussed how the company used marketing principles to develop a benefits plan that holistically supports a multi-generational workforce.

Read: Total rewards evolving to suit workforce of the future: Mercer

“My background is marketing,” said Domries, as he described the parallels between marketing and human resources. It was important to “think about our team members as customers and . . . create a value proposition that would make sense for our team members to address the theme . . .  around personalization, thinking through how you build product, how you price it, how you promote that product and how you distribute that product to get to a much more robust outcome in the eyes of your team members.”

To understand what employees required from a benefits plan, Domries noted Telus took a marketing approach by bringing in more than 200 staff to help co-create it, determine the type of product they’d like to see, the benefits that were important to them and what members from different generations required.

“Starting with design . . . [it] needs to be easy, it needs to be understood and it needs to have a lot of visualization so that team members can quickly assess what their benefits portfolio is going to look like,” said Domries. It also needed to be flexible so plan members could have control over the options and personalize it to their needs, while also respecting what the organization was offering, he added.

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Through implementing a marketing process, Domries said Telus was able to narrow down its benefits focus to five categories of well-being: physical, psychological, social, financial and environmental. The changes included increasing psychological benefits to $5,000, providing support for sports memberships and creating an opportunity for members who had recently graduated to use their benefits to pay back student loans.

“So [including student loans] that . . . was a bit of a bold step forward because we’re not sure what the adoption rate of that type of program was, and the feedback was incredibly powerful that the team members had wanted that program, but more importantly the stories that they shared outside the organization that our organization offers that opportunity,” said Domries, noting the perception of value drives engagement.

Another key component in implementing the new program was introducing it in an accessible and innovative way. Employees expected to experience the plan through their phones and tablets with web sessions, video and chat capabilities. Domries noted the plan members responded positively, taking the initiative to ask questions through the chat function, and other employees would help answer and guide them. “It really started to speak to a way that we’re connected through these different mediums in terms of how you distribute and how you showcase what that benefit program was.”

Telus increased its participation in education sessions, resulting in 96 per cent of employees proactively enrolling in the new benefits plan.

Read: Tips for engaging employees in plan design changes