How do you increase performance and productivity for employees as well as the organization as a whole? That’s the question HRSG Insurance invited speakers to tackle in an interactive session on emerging employee benefit trends.

From remote working trends to a growing focus on company values, today’s corporations are rapidly evolving. And so are employee needs and expectations. Companies that want to retain and reward high-performing employees are quickly realizing that their traditional understanding of employee benefits needs to change. The standard list of benefits simply does not cut it. So where should companies focus? The answer lies in less orthodox and more people-oriented benefits, also known as contributory benefits.

“Enable. Energize. Empower.” That is how the first guest speaker, K-Electric’s Director of HR, Kamran Mustafa Siddiqui, explained how he helped change the approach to employee benefits at K-Electric. Enabling and empowering people goes beyond HR’s typical number crunching to figure out the value and impact of benefits to employees, moving from a cost-and-action balance to a cost-and-impact balance.

“Ask employees which benefits they actually prefer, and give them those. If someone prefers not to have the formulaic gratuity or provident fund, why not switch that out with a perk that they might actually value, perhaps their children’s educational allowance? Even small gestures or non-monetary benefits—like sending birthday wishes—go a long way to making employees feel valued by their team.” That’s where analytics, information sharing and customization come in. K-Electric does this through an app that connects employees at all levels with their HR representatives. Kamran, who has previous experience at Standard Chartered and UBL, discussed how the culture around HR departments is changing.

Fredrick Coenrard de Beer, CEO of Adamjee Life Insurance, picked up on that thread, explaining why this change is so essential: “Too often, business looks to HR to be a miracle worker. But HR should really be considered an enabler and facilitator to keep employees happy and make them feel like they’re a part of something bigger.” The key takeaway was to focus on building and honoring relationships to be an employer of choice. Today, more than ever, employees (especially millennials) want to connect with organizations beyond just their standard job description. An organization’s fairness, openness and transparency are valued in addition to an employee’s personal growth.

So how can organizations enable a culture with engaged, happy and loyal employees? Fix the culture first. Match the job and benefits to the person rather than the other way around. Use technology to create meaningful modes of connection with employees. As Fred said to sum up the event, “Keep the foundation healthy and then focus on developing attractive benefits.”