• Nic Faurot

A Simpler Way to Manage Wellness Stipends!

By Jonathan Shooshani and Sebastian Elghanian, co-founders of JOON

Employers spend $8bn per year on corporate benefits programs that don’t work - here’s why.

The dynamics of modern work have fundamentally changed. With unemployment at a 50 year low and employee turnover setting record highs, the competition to attract and retain top talent has sharply increased. In response, according to The Society for Human Resource Management, 72% of businesses increased benefits spending in 2018 to attract new employees and retain current talent. Benefits that were once considered progressive (mental health, wellness programs, student loan repayment, professional development) have become standard.

In hopes of gaining a competitive advantage, businesses of all sizes are investing in a broad set of benefits packages designed to resonate with the now.

According to Tom Dugan, senior director of product management for Benefitfocus, a provider of cloud-based benefits management software in Charleston, S.C. "The breadth of benefits that companies offer today is much different than in the past," he said. "For example, the average number of benefit types offered by large employers using our platform is now 15, with a growing percentage offering 20 types." Each additional benefit type typically requires its own vendor, creating a patchwork of platforms that take many hours to evaluate and manage, are challenging to understand and use, and do not address the individual needs of every employee.

Employers are right to make these investments. Here’s what the data tells us:

1. 92% of employees reporting benefits as critically important to their overall job satisfaction and performance

2. 83% would change their job for better benefits. And 74% plan to leave their job within the next 3 years, costing employers $11bn annually in turnover costs

3. If they don’t quit, the’ll tune out with 79% reportedly disengaged at work, costing employers $500bn annually in lost productivity

We now know, according to a 2019 report from The Work Institute, that “3 out of 4 who quit could have been retained” through strategic benefits that speak to their individual needs.

If the issue is not a lack of investment or interest on behalf of employers, why aren’t the billions spent on benefits successfully improving employee’s health and happiness, while deepening that employee’s relationship with their employer?

Current benefit programs, despite the best intentions of employers, are opaque, difficult to understand and use, don’t meet the needs of 100% of employees and cannot be optimized as there is no easy way to synchronize multiple, distinct platforms.

So how can we make simple but impactful changes to benefit programs to better serve the needs of both companies and their people?

Simplify and Empower

Today’s workforce spans more than 50 years across 4 generations. To meet the needs of such a diverse population, employers tend to stack numerous benefits platforms on top of one another. While a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits is no longer effective, neither is a tangle of rigid platforms that only meet some of your employees’ needs.

What if one platform could meet the basic needs of all employees?

We started JOON to make it simple for employers to cover all dimensions of employee well-being, in one place.

JOON’s platform is open to every possible vendor within any given category of wellness. We make it easy for businesses to better attract and retain talent through customizable, inclusive and relevant benefit programs that are both simple to manage on the employer side and easy to use on the employee side.

But we go a step further, by empowering employees to self-direct how they exercise their benefits. Here’s how it works:

1. An employer chooses wellness categories that are strategically important to their organization along with a monthly per employee allowance (eg. $100 to spend across health and wellness, professional development and childcare)

2. Employees then link their personal credit or debit card to JOON, and spend as they normally would within each approved wellness category

3. JOON automatically validates and reimburses purchases that fit within each approved benefit category

Instead of using a different vendor for each type of benefit category, an employer could disburse all benefit allocations through JOON, while easily tracking engagement and success in real time.

Embracing ‘simplicity as the ultimate sophistication’ while empowering employees will help create durable benefit programs that employees understand, appreciate and are excited to use.

We credit this approach with the early success we’re seeing at JOON. Our users are 4-5x more engaged with our platform than typical benefit programs, they’re 25% more likely to make a wellness purchase and 95% of users report JOON is simpler than any other benefits program they’ve used. On the employer side, our clients report they’re now spending mere minutes managing JOON each month, where they used to spend 1 out of every 4 work hours on benefits administration. This all translates to happier, healthier employees, who feel a deeper connection to their employer and are more engaged at work - the way it should be. Meanwhile, People Ops leaders are freed from benefit administration work to focus on higher impact work.

When benefit programs work, they produce upwards of $6 for every $1 invested by attracting, retaining and engaging top talent. There’s tremendous opportunity, given the upward trend in benefit spending, for employers to leverage innovative benefits programs to attract, retain and engage top talent. Whether employers opt to try JOON or another solution, we look forward to a future where the $8bn spent annually on corporate benefits are refocused through a lens of simplicity and empowerment to create $48bn of positive impact on the overall health and wellbeing of employees everywhere.

Want to learn more about JOON?

Contact FitPros

email: hello@fitpros.com or call: (815) 348-7767