Case Study


  • Leading employee benefits provider
  • 2 million + lives insured under all Unum UK policies combined
  • 11,000 + businesses trust Unum to look after their people
  • £7million + in claims paid by Unum on average each week


One of the UK’s leading employee benefit providers, Unum offer expert health and wellbeing support, and financial protection through the workplace.

After realising their employees were going to multiple places to access their benefits, Unum wanted one portal to create a better employee experience and were ‘impressed’ at the speed of the onboarding process.

We spoke to Dan Barnard, Lead Reward and Benefit Consultant at Unum, to find out more about their experience of Zest.

Unum Case Study

Why were you looking for a new benefits provider and platform?

So, after a bit of a deep dive, we realised that our employees were going to multiple places to access their benefits and we wanted to put it all into one portal to avoid people going all over the place, but also to create a better employee experience.

Why did you choose Zest for your benefits platform?

We were fully aware of Zest’s functionality and capabilities. I’d seen it and read about it, and I was keen to explore further. Going back to that, putting it all into one place, that functionality was there. And again, the employee experience was too. I kind of described it as we had a product. And it was vanilla, it worked. It was good. But everyone would like vanilla with a flake and ice cream. And hundreds and thousands. Zest has got that functionality to add these additional bits on. So it was a good decision.

What was the onboarding process like and how long did it take?

Super impressive actually. I was really surprised. We went from the summer months to launch in January for six months. We built that platform and when we reported that back internally they were saying ‘Are you really going to deliver it in that time?’ We were so grateful to get a project manager on board from zest supporting myself. It was a landing roughly 25 benefits in six months for go live, which was fantastic.

Six people sat at a table having a meeting

How did you find the process of launching your platform with Zest for the first time?

Really exciting. We used our own internal comms team to support us with it, but we’ve been building up slowly, introducing teasers and getting employees ready for it. So it was a really good, enjoyable experience, especially for myself to be involved in the build as well.

Do you think using Zest’s platform has helped engage your employees?

Absolutely. What we’ve created now a whole emphasis on going to just one flex window operating at one time in the year. What you want to do is you want your employees to go back into their platform all the time to ensure that they’re engaged with their benefits. So, whilst we still operate a Flex window, we’ve also got anytime benefits now. The whole experience for employees will hopefully keep them engaged and also keep engagement levels up.

Can you share specific examples of benefits that have seen increased participation amongst employees?

I think the biggest one for us is the Pension contributions, which we do through salary sacrifice on our old platform. It was about 5 or 6 clicks to get to the point where you amended your contribution with Zest. We’re now down to three. I love the fact that on the pension contribution toll an employee can model the future. If they were increasing or decreasing their pension contribution it clearly shows them the cost of that modelling function and has brought some really good feedback from our employees. I’m really pleased to say that after some market review because of the amount of employees that were going through the benefit platform to change their pension contributions, we realised that our enrolment rate was out of kilter with the market. So, we’ve actually taken the market data. We’ve then increased our automatic enrolment percentage and employees can still go in and amend it. Either increasing or decreasing, and I’m pleased. Currently today most employees have left it at the new automatic enrolment rate for us. But again, they can go in and decrease if they wish, but at the moment we’re not seeing that as a trend. But yeah, very key benefit is the Pensions. So it was important to streamline that process and make it slicker.

Printouts of graphs and charts on a desk

Can you share any stats on engagement, benefits uptake/selection, retention before and after implementing Zest platform?

I’m really pleased to sit here and say that our engagement rate is around 80%. It stays the same. I can tell you that over the last three or four years in terms of number of benefits per employee, it’s always hovered between 5:00 and 6:00. And then if I look at the market data on the majority of the benefits, we’re always been ahead of the benchmark.

What do you think of your relationship with Zest?

It’s good, it’s honest and open. But I would say they’re a victim of their own success in the sense that they’ve built our platform in six months. They move, they make changes on a regular basis. And as a tech company, tech doesn’t sit still. So, myself, as a client, with more demanding employees in an ever-changing work environment, I will be putting the challenge back to them to say,  you guys are the technology behind the platform, when can we now do this? When can we do that? What’s next?

Any challenges?

I think our own personal one is that we’re not tapping into all the functionality that’s available on the platform. The engagement centre and the communication because we’ve got a very good internal comms team. I’ve not used that element to its full functionality. We’ve got that module that’s there. I love the fact that you can target individual groups. So, for those that get private medical and health cash plan, it can actually simplify stuff for us. But I just haven’t tapped into it at the moment.


Woman stood up and smiling during meeting

Would you recommend working with Zest Technology Ltd? If so why?

I think it’s the leading product in the market at the moment. So far, they’ve delivered on every challenge and task that we’ve put to them. They are open to client requests, however demanding they are. Since we’ve been with them. We’re Coming up to our 4th year, and they’ve always been adding enhancements on their continuous journey and so that’s helping our employees with their journey in the world of employee benefits.

Were there any specific customization or integration requirements for the platform to align with your company’s needs?

We did our internal checks because we need to make sure that they work with our HR system and also our payroll system. I’m pleased to say that Zest is already working with them. So the integration of that was fairly smooth.

Could you share a specific success story or scenario where Zest platform played a crucial role in addressing a particular challenging or enhancing positive outcome?

Yes. We’re currently halfway through that story this year. We’ve for some reason decided to do two flex windows. And when I say for some reason it’s a bit tongue in cheek, what we’re doing internally, we’ve made the decision to realign our holiday year. So currently it was July to June and we’re now moving it to Jan-December and of course, we wouldn’t want to leave the flex window that was also running July to June. So that’s been realigned.

We’ve had to do a window in June and we’ve got another window coming up in November. Running flex windows is challenging, exciting and busy, but to take on 2 in a year is super exciting and challenging. Coming up in November, we will guarantee that we’re making some changes. So far it’s been straightforward, but I’m not sure I would have possibly been able to do 2 flex windows with our previous provider, so it’s an exciting journey.

Want to know more about Dan’s role, Unum’s area of expertise and their working relationship with Zest? Our very own Pete Blyth-Tancock welcomed Dan on to our very first Zest Sessions.

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