Employees want benefits, and good organizations will provide them. Smart employers know that offering only traditional benefits would not be sufficient to keep a person. Modern society is diverse with people having specific needs to be met. Employee retention strategies can use benefits to keep employees, but the right kind must be used.
Benefits Employees Want
Retention is a serious issue as job markets tighten. The 2016 Strategic Benefits – Leveraging Benefits to Retain and Recruit Employees report issued by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that organizations are altering benefits to aid in keeping employees. Another report issued by the Society, 2016 Strategic Benefits Survey-Assessment and Communication of Benefits points out the following ranking of benefits employees consider important:
- Health Care Benefits;
- Retirement Savings;
- Leave Benefits;
- Flexible Working Benefits;
- Professional and Career Development benefits;
- Wellness Benefits;
- Financial Benefits;
- Family-friendly Benefits.
The above ranking shows the influence Millennials are playing in the development of benefits. Younger workforce wants good healthcare, but they also would like assistance in dealing with financial debt caused by student loans. Flexible working conditions (e.g. telecommuting), as well as professional development, are attractive to a younger workforce. Older employees are understandably concerned with retirement benefits and respond favorably to any additional contributions retirement accounts made by employers.
Current Benefits Trends
Trends are not just the fashion. They tell companies where benefits are going and what new interests are developing. The trends suggest to benefits managers what changes are necessary, and what new benefits ought to be considered. Current research indicates there are certain employee benefit offerings that are excellent means of keeping employees including:
- Flexible Time;
- Wellness Incentives;
- Time Off for Volunteer Work;
- Commuting Discounts;
- Office Celebrations (The “fun” office);
- Paid Time Off;
- Paternity/Maternity Leave.
Forward thinking organizations recognize the importance of benefits retention. Decision-makers, however, are very concerned about the bottom line. Benefits can be very expensive, and the cost should be justified by employee involvement. In other words, benefits which are not used are not worth investing any money in.
Reaching out to the employees is the best way of guaranteeing benefits will be used. Focus groups are an excellent way of finding out what employees want to see in the benefits package. A program of constantly reviewing existing benefits will help identify employee preferences and suggest where some changes can be made. Incentives such as reduced premiums or cash bonuses for participate in the wellness program or non-smoking can be very appealing to employees. Any opportunity to allow an employee to customize a benefit is something that is going to make this person think twice about leaving.
Benefits Communications are Important
Employees will not use benefits which they know nothing about. Employee benefits communications can no longer be done only during annual sign-up periods. Instead, employee communications should be ongoing. People need to be aware of what benefits are available, and actively invited to use them. The communication could take the form of newsletters, announcements, quarterly benefits meetings, or special programs to promote benefit options such as wellness. Increased employee use of existing benefits and new ones added on is a clue to overall employee satisfaction which, in turn, reinforces retention.
Management does have to be realistic about retention expectations. The days when an employee work for company 30 years or more is gone. It is expected that individual will change jobs several times during a working career. Nevertheless, retention efforts are important. The ability to keep somebody for five years or more is a strong indication that retention strategies are working.
Having the guidance and advice of an outside party can help. Benefits professionals can offer suggestions on improvements, the introduction of new benefits, and better employee communications.