Benefits and perks speak volumes about how you view, value employees. What message are you sending?
Competition is stiff for the best and brightest workers, and businesses increasingly are looking for creative benefits that will attract and keep good employees. Benefits such as health insurance, paid leave, and retirement plans are clearly important; but organizations need to know their employees, think outside the box, and identify benefits that boost the company’s brand. Why is this so important? According to one survey, nearly two-third of job candidates say that benefits and perks are among their top considerations before accepting a job; and nearly 80% of workers say they would prefer new or added benefits to a pay increase.
More than ever, job hunters are detectives—doing research on and asking around about prospective employers. Specifically, the want details about compensation and benefits packages in addition to information about company mission, vision, and values and what makes the organization a good place to work. Not surprisingly, employees rank the top benefits as health insurance, vacation/paid time off, pension plans, 401K plans, and retirement plans. These core benefits matter more to employees than specific perks such as maternity/paternity leave, dependent care, stock options, and free food.
Benefits come with baggage, that is, they carry a message about your company’s culture and brand. Efforts to change, add, or eliminate benefits should consider more than their cost. It is important to determine if a change will be consistent with the company’s culture, mission, and brand. If not, any money saved could be countered by turnover, hiring challenges, and damage to the company’s reputation. Before cutting or changing benefits, especially the core offerings described above, consider surveying staff and/or conducting focus groups to determine what impact these actions might have. It also is useful to conduct a financial analysis of cuts, comparing this information against metrics such as CEO salaries and executive bonuses. At the same time, consider what free or low-cost perks (such as volunteer time off or wellness options) might make the cuts more palatable.
Before making any benefit cuts or changes, there is a value to knowing what your competitors are doing. Check out their benefit offerings on job sites and/or their website or social media pages. Read reviews and posts from employees or job seekers about benefit changes to see how they were perceived. You can use this information to argue for or against benefit changes at your organization.
Plan ahead to protect your company’s brand and reputation when benefit changes are in the works. Strategize a rollout that includes transparency of information and the rationale behind the change, including how workers were involved in decision making. Involve thought leaders at all levels in the rollout to help sell it throughout the organization. Provide clear and consistent messaging that is repeated in employee handbooks, policies and procedures, and other source of employment-related information. Finally, be open to and encourage worker feedback and provide an open forum for people to address their questions and concerns.