Pointing away from point solutions toward benefit aggregators

Benefit aggregators can offer more personalized alternatives for small-to-midsize businesses.
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In the near future, more HR teams may pass on point-solutions vendors entirely in favor of aggregation platforms that hyper-personalize the benefits experience and, miraculously, house all company benefit offerings in one place.

Over the course of HR Brew’s conversations about rewards, several benefits pros made the business case for aggregators, emphasizing their user-friendliness and particular value to small- and medium-sized companies who might be priced out of working with point-solution vendors.

Jordan Peace, CEO of Fringe, a lifestyle benefits platform, explained the premise. Aggregators—such as Fringe, JOON, PerkUp, and Limeade—typically give their employees points (which translate to dollars) to spend as they see fit on services ranging from teletherapy, to activities to do with kids, to food delivery. In Peace’s view, putting dollars and decisions in employees’ hands can alleviate some of the disgruntlement around benefits. He thinks people want personalization—not a single point solution that may or may not apply to their circumstances.

“By the time I was a teenager, I could walk into a Starbucks and give this 17-word description of the perfect drink that’s just for me,” Peace said. “Personalization is native to me. And then you go to the workforce, and it’s like, ‘Hey, do you want the chocolate 401k, vanilla, or the strawberry?’ And it’s just like, ‘Why is this so lame? Where’s the curated feel that I expect everywhere else in my life?’ It doesn’t show up in the workplace.”

Keep calm, communicate on. Benefit aggregators also have the potential to help streamline a common pain-point for HR: communication. When companies partner with multiple vendors, employees sometimes miss communications about benefit offerings. In a particularly striking example, Jonathan Shooshani, the CEO of JOON, wasn’t even aware of benefits available to him.

“One of my coworkers told me, ‘Hey, do you know we have Spring Health through Rippling?’ I'm one of the founders of the company, [and] I didn’t know that!” Shooshani told HR Brew.

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David Fairburn, an associate partner for Aon's retirement solutions practice, said that this is unfortunately typical, due in part to the amount of communications employees receive. It’s hard to get employees to read emails.

Fairburn describes this struggle, when employees are inundated with emails from "12 different vendors that are addressing different benefits," plus any other company communications: "Anything that can be done to bring that together in a cohesive manner [is good.]"

You’re not too small to ride this ride. Benefit aggregators typically have lower barriers to entry.

“A lot of [point solution vendors] won’t even talk to customers that have under 500 employees, because they can’t scale their product down smaller, so you really do have to be a mid-market-size employer to get many of these special and unique perks,” Larson said.

Jonathan Shooshani, president and co-founder of JOON, added that annual contracts were another barrier that tended to apply to point solutions, but not benefit aggregation platforms.

With one aggregation app, there’s one contract, and typically one round of paperwork. Steven Kapper, associate client partner at Korn and Ferry, spelled out the time-saving benefit for HR.

“There’s reduced administrative burden…for HR in terms of having to go out and procure a number of different vendors and have contracts, whereas this simplifies it to one vendor, one agreement across a whole host of benefits categories,” Kapper explained.—SV

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @SusannaVogel1 on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Susanna for her number on Signal.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

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