Inclusivity: Ways that data and technology can be utilised to improve diversity and inclusivity

Chris Andrew
By Chris Andrew
Strategy Director

In a competitive job market, employers must consider how they attract and retain top talent whose lifestyles are as different as their backgrounds. It’s no longer good enough to dangle a one-size-fits-all benefits package that is neither diverse nor inclusive. We’re all unique, and today’s workforce is demanding more choice and personalisation. 

As the traditional 9-5 workplace becomes obsolete, employee expectations are evolving. For organisations to remain competitive they need a compelling employee proposition which responds to how a broad base of people live and what they value. 

Consider how people at different life stages feel about their pensions. Research indicates that 45% of millennials are more likely to want their pensions divested from fossil fuels, irrespective of the impact on the financial performance. On the other end of the spectrum, only 23% of baby boomers felt the same way. 

Or think about this: FCA research indicates that only 9% of people between 18 and 24 years old have a mortgage. Fast forward about 15 years and that number has soared to 62%. These distinct groups are not likely to have the same priorities or financial security.

These examples demonstrate that employee needs and objectives will vary based on their personal circumstances, and this should influence how we think about reward and benefits. Our own research suggests, for instance, that people under 40 rarely claim on private medical insurance, even though this may be a significant employee perk. 

Organisations should consider age, attitudes, gender and even housing situations to offer flexible compensation and benefits packages. In doing so, they will better respond to the diverse experiences of those they’d like to hire, retain and motivate. 

Data and technology: powerful tools for flexible benefits 

With data and technology at their disposal, organisations have a powerful way of tailoring their reward packages so that they appeal to a broad, highly skilled talent pool. In the past, companies didn’t have the tools or resources to mine data and draw meaningful insights. 

Today, most benefits and workplace apps can provide rich data. One market intelligence firm found that workplace wellness apps were up 156% in 2021. Reward teams, or their advisers, can analyse this data to pinpoint the benefits having the biggest positive impact on their employees and which other areas are likely to resonate with them. 

To capitalise on this, organisations must ensure employees understand and engage with the benefits on offer by removing barriers to access and, most importantly, by clearly communicating what’s on offer and how to take advantage. 

Meanwhile, all organisations can tap into powerful insights simply by analysing employee feedback. Regular employee surveys and open forums that are facilitated by a third party can help improve the employee experience. 

The role of trust in gathering meaningful data

This all comes with a caveat: not everyone feels comfortable sharing data. While there are huge opportunities, employees must be allowed to opt out of sharing personal information. Yet meaningful data can’t solely rely on the opinions of a handful of people. 

To get extensive buy-in, it’s paramount to create a culture of trust, authority and authenticity. We’ve worked with organisations with fantastic solutions for improving their employees’ health, but they weren’t taken up in big numbers. This was an issue of trust.

To build trust, the way you communicate with your people must be authentic. Organisations should align their workplace to their internal brand. For a start, be visible and accountable: engage in two-way communication with your employees and be committed to taking action. 

If one of your aims is to be seen as diverse and inclusive, prove it. Whether that’s amplifying the work of existing internal diversity networks, leading by example, organising workshops on unconscious bias, or using technology to help write balanced recruitment adverts. 

In seeking diversity, it’s important to celebrate individuals too – recognise and reward them. When you create a positive, authentic workplace culture, people will be more open to sharing honest information. 

In conclusion, the workplace is no longer a static, office-based environment that caters to the largest common denominator. If companies want to stay competitive and attract a diverse, highly skilled workforce, they must use technology and data to adapt their benefits packages. What's more, they’ll be creating an enviable experience for staff that will drive their business forward.