How Do Your Most Important Benefit Plans Align With Employees’ Expectations?
The Role of Benefits in Retaining Top Talent
It is undisputed that to be an employer of choice in today’s competitive talent market, having a strong benefits plan is essential. In a recent SHRM survey, 20% of HR professional reported having restructured benefits offerings in the past year, specifically with an eye toward improving employee retention. MetLife found that this a trend that employers expect to see continue in years to come. In a report on The Millennial Benefits Perspective, 51% of employers expect that they will increasingly rely on benefits as a retention tool in the next 3-5 years. The same report found that employees who are satisfied with their benefit plans are also four times as likely to report positively regarding their job satisfaction. Some employees value benefits equally with pay; according to Aflac’s 2017 Workforces Report, 58% of employees would consider a job with lower pay if the offer also included a robust benefits package. A Glassdoor survey found that 80% of employees would choose additional benefits over a pay raise.
The Benefits Valued Most by Employees
Health Care Tops the List for Employees and Employers
Most employees value employer sponsored health insurance more highly than any other benefit. In a survey of over 1000 professionals, two-thirds express a preference for better health and wellness benefits over perks. In a study published earlier this year by the Harvard Business Review, 2000 workers were given a list of benefits and asked to identify the benefits to which they would give most weight when evaluating a job offer. Healthcare (health, dental and vision insurance) rated the highest, with 54% stating that they would give “serious consideration” and 34% “some consideration” to the quality of those offerings. 95% of HR professionals surveyed in the SHRM study mentioned above believe that health care benefits are important to a majority of employees. With the shifting landscape of health care plan legislation and the potential removal of employer mandates, many employees are understandably concerned about the future of their employer provided benefits. If employer mandates are ultimately altered or lifted, companies will still be wise to offer health benefits to employees in order to avoid undesired turnover.
Employers should also consider generational preferences when structuring health care plans in order to maximize satisfaction and retention. Traditional plans like PPOs remain popular with older generations who appreciate the security of consistent co-pays and lower deductibles, but Millennials are more likely to opt for HDHPs. If possible, employers should try to structure a range of plans to meet the needs of a diverse employee population.
What About Wellness?
Wellness programs often work in tandem with health care benefits and are popular with employers who seek to reap the benefits of the lower healthcare costs, decreased absenteeism and increased productivity associated with a healthier workforce. Despite the popularity of wellness plans with employers, Gallup research indicates that employee participation is low, under 25%. To improve participation, companies should evaluate the tools used to administer the program – mobile digital access is a must to meet the wellness expectations of the modern workforce. Extending the scope of wellness also enhances the value – today’s successful plans go beyond physical wellness to support the emotional, financial and social well-being of employees. Last, to serve a diverse workforce, wellness programs need to include a variety of options from nutrition and weight-loss, to smoking cessation, insomnia prevention, and stress management.
Vacation Time and Paid Leave
Next to health care, most employees rate paid leave as a significant driver of satisfaction and engagement. But to be an employer of choice, companies need to think beyond the traditional company holidays and two weeks vacation. PTO for the modern worker means more than just time off for a few weeks a year. Competitive benefit plans include generous leave policies for new parents, PTO days set aside specifically for community service, sick days, personal days and paid holidays that cover a longer range of time (all of Christmas week, for example). Other characteristics of highly rated PTO policies include the option to bank PTO from one year to the next and the ability to buy or “sell back” a week of leave. To compare your current leave benefits with some of the best, take a look at these reviews from Glassdoor and CNBC.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Once considered more a “perk” than an expected benefit, flexible work arrangements are now valued equally by employees and employers. Whether it is the offering the option to work a flexible schedule or to work from an off-site location, employers recognize that this benefit will be essential to their ability to attract and retain talent in the modern workforce. HR professionals surveyed by SHRM expect the importance of flexibility as a benefit to increase by 41% in the next 3-5 years. 81% of millennials would like the option to select the hours they work, but flexible work arrangements are a benefit with appeal beyond the newest generation of workers. An IBM study found that 79% of employees with flexibility indicated that they were happier at work, and 98% of working parents believe that having a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life.
There are several types of flexible work arrangements and depending on their personal circumstances, your employees may prefer to telecommute, to work a compressed schedule, to job share, or to set their own hours. Not every organization may be able to accommodate this range of flexible plans, but to remain competitive, organizations should determine what flexibility they can not only offer, but also support. Successful flexibility policies must be supported by adequate technologies and embraced within the company culture. Today’s modern workforce does not simply expect the option of a flexible work arrangement, they expect to be supported in their choice.
Technology and Workplace Benefits
Technology is a key enabler of workplace benefits. In addition to the expectation of competitive benefits, employees want mobile, digital access to manage their benefit plans and support their flexible work arrangements. Asure Software is a leader in providing integrated solutions to support benefits administration, PTO tracking and mobile workforce management.