DEI & Employee Benefits: How to Build Inclusive Benefits
Employee benefits are a key piece of any DEIBA strategy. By building an inclusive benefits offering, employers can help support employees’ unique needs, regardless of background. Here’s your guide to building DE&I into your benefits plans.
Diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and accessibility (DEIBA) has the potential to strengthen workplace culture, improve productivity, and even increase profits. Moving forward, it’s a must-have for any employer. However, creating an effective DEIBA strategy isn't straightforward.
Employee benefits play a major role in supporting an employer’s commitment to DEIBA. After all, benefit plans are meant to support employees’ lives, both on and off the clock – regardless of their unique needs.
Read on for a few highlights from their discussion, or watch the full video on demand.
What is DEIBA?
DEIBA stands for diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and accessibility.
DEIBA strategies aim to create diverse and inclusive workplace cultures where employees feel they belong and have access to the resources they need. It's all about building an environment where everyone can bring their whole selves to work, including underrepresented groups.
DEIBA often leads to major benefits for employers, including increased job satisfaction, higher productivity levels, and greater innovation. In short, DEIBA doesn’t only lead to a happier, more diverse workforce and a healthier company culture – it also increases business success.
Why should DEIBA play a role in your benefits strategy?
If you want to create a truly effective DEI strategy, it has to be woven throughout every area of your business. A simple list of policies in your employee handbook just won’t cut it.
Your DEIBA strategies should have a clear impact on every corner of your organization, including health plans and benefits.
What does an inclusive benefits offering look like?
Diversity and inclusion employee benefits can often vary from company to company. That’s because they should generally reflect the values of the organization, its budget, and the team's needs.
That means that one organization's DEI employee benefits will likely look very different from the next. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here.
Aside from traditional benefits like health and dental insurance, DEIBA-driven organizations often expand their benefits offering to support folks from diverse backgrounds with varying needs.
The right mix of health care and benefits will depend on your diverse team’s unique needs. Still, there are a couple of key benefit categories that can generally support DEIBA in most workplaces, including:
- Financial wellness benefits
- Mental health benefits
- Telehealth benefits
- Wellness coaching
- Healthcare navigation
Ideally, your benefits should be able to flex to meet your employees’ needs.
For instance, financial wellness is a priority among many employees – but different people have different financial goals. While some folks may value a retirement savings benefit, others may appreciate student loan repayment support. An inclusive financial wellness benefits offering can flex to support a range of lifestyles, budgets, and goals.
Looking to build a flexible offering (without shelling out a budget on a full range of plans)? Customizable lifestyle spending accounts may be your answer. These innovative offerings give employees the freedom to build their own unique plan.
In a nutshell, lifestyle spending accounts give employees a budget to select benefits that support their lifestyles and needs. For instance, employees who identify as transgender could use their customizable spending account to pay for gender-affirming care, while diverse families might use it to access fertility care options.
How can employers build DEI-driven benefits offerings?
In short, there’s no one right way to build an inclusive benefits plan – you just need to follow the needs of your employees.
If you want to build a plan that can cover your employees’ needs, you have to understand those needs first. The best way to get that info? Ask.
Here’s where your employee benefits survey can play a role. Your survey should help uncover your employees’ wants and needs – and how well your current offering supports them. With those survey results in hand, see what you can do to use it to update your benefits packages.
Have a clear communication strategy when making benefit changes
If you do end up making edits to your benefits, the way you communicate those changes to your employees is critical. Benefits changes can sometimes lead to confusion, disruption, or questions from your employees – so this is where you need to lead with empathy.
Three points must be clearly communicated to your employees:
- What benefits have changed
- Why they were changed
- And how these changes aim to strengthen your overall strategies
Ideally, you'll provide employees with tools or resources that help navigate your new benefits easily. Highlighting the features of each benefit can be helpful, especially if some are complex.
Most importantly, reassure your employees that their well-being is top priority and that you value their contributions to the company. Acknowledge any worries they have regarding changes in benefits and express your understanding of any individual concerns.
By maintaining an open dialogue with your team, you can ensure that everyone feels heard and respected.
Don't be afraid to make data-driven edits
Building a benefits strategy is a journey, not a destination. In other words, there is no “finish line” or “perfect score” when it comes to a DEI-driven offering. You have to be ready and willing to make tweaks as needed.
Once you've got your DEIBA benefits strategy in place, keep a close eye on how people engage with it and whether they take up the new options. You may even choose to double down on education as needed, to ensure they understand what’s on the table.
Your benefits broker and vendors can also be a great resource to tap into for help. Since they usually work with lots of companies, they're familiar with the programs that tend to add value to companies focused on DEIBA. They might have some good ideas for benefit options that align with your objectives.
Incorporating DEIBA into your benefits offerings promotes equity in your work culture
Committing to DEIBA in the work environment may start with your policies and values, but it should extend to all parts of your company, including your benefits programs. After all, benefits are meant to support all your employees — and all means all.
For a complete discussion of DEIBA benefits and how to implement them in the workplace, watch the replay with industry-leading DEIBA experts.
Nava benefits experts are here to help you build inclusive benefits offerings to meet your employees' needs and budget. Talk to a Nava expert today.