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The majority (84%) of employers use some form of benefits technology, with the most popular option being a staff intranet (63%), according to research by Employee Benefits.

The Employee Benefits research 2020, published in May 2020, which surveyed 269 HR decision-makers, also found that under half (44%) of respondents offer an external website owned by a provider or consultant, while over one-third (35%) offer a rewards portal.

These have remained the most common forms of benefits technology for four consecutive years, with mobile or tablet apps, this year selected by 23% of respondents, remaining relatively consistent in fourth place.

The most modern advancements in methods of reaching staff and providing benefits and communications, such as chatbots (3%), wearable fitness technology (3%), gamification technology (1%) and augmented reality (0) have yet to make much of a foothold.

Among the 16% of organisations that have no benefits technology in place for their workforces, the majority (57%) say it is too expensive, while 30% either do not see the need, or do not think employees would use it. However, 48% simply have not yet found a benefits technology option that works for, and suits, their organisation.

Since last year’s research, the importance of data analysis capabilities has risen by 10 percentage points, with 48% of respondents stating that this is a key feature of benefits technology. Low cost, or cost-effectiveness, has also grown in importance, being selected by 74% of those surveyed, compared to 55% in 2019.

However, the primary factors that employers take into account when selecting what technology to use remain ease of use (87%) and functionality (84%). These have taken the top spots since the question was first asked in 2017, reflecting the increasing need for workplace and HR technology to emulate the streamlined consumer experience found outside of work.

The use of brokers to source benefits technology is dropping, falling to 27% this year, from 36% in 2017. Instead, employers increasingly go direct to the provider (56%). A new option introduced this year shows that a small but significant proportion (12%) of organisations create bespoke benefits platforms in-house.

Much like last year, 38% of respondents who use benefits technology have overhauled their portal in the last six months to a year, taking advantage of new developments and trends. However, a similar amount (30%) have not overhauled their benefits portal for more than two years.

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