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INSURANCE | Alyssa Divina, Singapore

How AXA Insurance helps firms reevaluate employee benefits

The insurer has launched a new product tailored to a multi-generational workforce.

Aside from digital acceleration and new channels, the pandemic has given companies and businesses an opportunity to reconsider employee benefits. Bosses have been paying attention to providing benefit programs such as wellness services and solutions. These difficult times have made them realise that employee resilience is of utmost importance, and addressing their evolving needs is necessary to retain and attract efficient talent.

According to Julien Callard, managing director for retail and health at AXA Insurance, a firm’s ability to secure the overall wellbeing of its staff and equip them with appropriate skills will be important in emerging stronger after the pandemic. “Employers have had to not only consider if they’re catering the right types of benefits that add value to their employees, but also ensure convenience and ease of access of these benefits which have come to be expected in today’s digital age.”

For their part, the insurance industry can support employers by supporting them in providing holistic benefits to their employees, such as AXA Insurance’s new corporate offering tailored specifically for addressing such needs.

Insurance Asia caught up with Callard to learn more about how employee needs have changed and AXA’s new offering designed for a diverse, multi-generational workforce.

In your opinion, what has been the most significant shift in terms of employee demands and benefits amidst the pandemic? Do you think employers have been able to meet those demands?

Based on our own experience from the onset of the pandemic, we have found that employees are looking for very practical support such as IT equipment to use whilst working from home, expanded benefits to help with increased utility bills, and access to telemedicine. In addition, what were once “good-to-have” benefits and services, particularly in the physical and mental well-being space, are increasingly deemed necessary as the pandemic has caused many individuals to reprioritise these aspects of their lives.

But beyond that, employers have had to not only consider if they’re catering the right types of benefits that add value to their employees, but also ensure convenience and ease of access of these benefits which have come to be expected in today’s digital age. For example, employees today will prefer being given access to gym networks rather than a gym in the office building, and they will also appreciate access to telemedicine much more than having an on-site doctor in the office.

The pandemic has evidently pushed companies to pay more attention to the evolving needs of their employees and to find ways to deliver benefits which their employees’ value effectively and efficiently.

What pitfalls did this pandemic expose regarding employee insurance, and how have you been addressing those?

Today, no longer is employee insurance just about basic protection benefits, but benefits that boost and support one’s health and well-being are increasingly important to employees especially amid the pandemic. Offering insurance benefits that employees value can go a long way in supporting them individually and contributing to positive outcomes for the company.

We have recently launched our holistic employee benefits offering, #BetterMe by AXA, to support companies and employees at a time where the need for employee well-being is most critical. Prior to the pandemic, we surveyed and studied the market to understand what employers and employees expect and desire – such as value-added benefits that boost well-being in areas such as mental health, fitness, chronic disease management and health screening – and our #BetterMe offering seeks to address these needs which will continue to be present even past the pandemic.

How can employers maintain and strengthen workforce resilience during challenging times, and what role will the insurance industry play in this? 

The pandemic has significantly impacted employees across all aspects of their health. As we work towards stabilising and rebuilding for the new normal, employers need to strike a balance between offering their employees an exciting and fulfilling career, and ensuring their health and well-being is taken care of as these are all key aspects in fostering employee resilience. 

Insurers can play a role in supporting companies to help build a stronger and more resilient workforce, and for us this starts with empowering companies to address employee benefits more holistically with our new employee benefits offering. This means providing support for their employees to manage their health and well-being, beyond traditional insurance protection.

Can you tell us more about this corporate offering that caters to a “diverse, multi-generational workforce” with different needs? Is this a new product or an enhancement of an existing one? What are your main goals with this?

#BetterMe by AXA is a newly introduced enhanced employee benefits offering that is customisable and more holistic compared to what is typically offered in the market, and it is designed to empower employers to meet the diverse needs of their multi-generational workforce.

Companies can customise the benefits of their #BetterMe by AXA corporate plan based on their needs, and both employers and employees have the option to add on supplementary services that are available in partnership with best-in-class partners: telehealth provider Doctor Anywhere for convenient access to quality care via video consultations and a dedicated Chronic Disease Management Programme for suitable candidates, global fitness and wellness aggregator ClassPass for an unmatched variety of fitness and wellness experiences, and digital therapeutics firm Naluri for health coaching and mental wellness support. Beyond offering employers the ability to choose coverage at an organisation-wide level, we are working towards implementing an added layer of customisation for employees where they can choose to enhance the level of coverage for themselves and even their dependents or add on new benefits for greater protection.

In addition, we have also taken deliberate steps to keep things simple by leveraging digital solutions to enable easy and convenient access to policy information and services for both the administrators in the company (HR) and employees. This focus on simplicity is also reflected in our benefits structure where we have done away with sub-limits, which is a common feature in employee benefits offerings in the market, so that customers have greater certainty about how much of their medical bills will be covered. This is significant for customers who have to undergo major medical procedures.

With #BetterMe, our aim is to enable companies, HR, and the employees to all have their needs met across multiple aspects, ranging from the benefits structure, the supplementary holistic offerings to the digital capabilities, and the level of customisation offered.

How do you see employers addressing future employee demands in the next five years? 

Irrespective of the pandemic, the reality is that for many organisations today, there are possibly four generations of employees sharing the workplace. Gone are the days where employers can simply offer a standard set of benefits for their entire workforce. Employers will increasingly need to tailor benefits to the needs of their workforce and individual employees. The personalised effect does not only encourage employees to use their benefits more regularly and thus benefit from it, but it also provides increased take-up efficiencies for employers which means more value for their investment. 

Additionally, as more companies increasingly adopt agile working and have people spend less time in the physical office as we know it today, employers have to consider the way benefits are delivered to and accessed by their employees. It needs to be convenient and intuitive and employers will naturally need to turn to technology and digital channels to reach employees.

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