Congrats, you just recruited another top talent for the team. But three of your other top performers just handed you their two-week notice.
Yes, it is going to be one of THOSE weeks. And while you are busy interpreting exit interview results, you hear rumors that other employees are getting anxious and antsy to look for something better.
Chances are, the last place you will look for the mass-exodus culprit is your employee benefits program. With 10 percent of mid-size and large businesses currently admitting to dropping health coverage in 2014 due to President Obama’s health care overhaul, it is time to begin focusing on how to boost morale and revive the lost art of focusing on employee value.
When it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent, especially in today’s volatile economy, it is important to talk to your employees, make a radical, yet strategic shift in your thinking and to begin developing a long-term strategy. When it comes right down to it, it’s no longer good enough to just offer free coffee in the break rooms.
Talk to your employees
You know that word-of-mouth advertising is the best. This concept is no different within your workplace.
As your employees begin to love their job more, they tell more people about it. They talk it up and brag to their friends about how great their company is. But when the opposite happens and employee morale drops, the talking frequency doesn’t stop – it just turns negative.
Communication is a key to keeping happy employees. And what better way to figure out what will keep your employees happy than hearing it straight from the “horse’s mouth?” If your company culture does not foster an open communication policy, and not just an executive memo that states such, but truly open lines, then now is a great time to start.
Ask what your employees want to see in a benefits plan if you were to get rid of health care. Why wait until you have a revolt on your hands to begin asking for input? The sooner you open the lines of communication, the easier it will be to make decisions to help recruit and retain top talent.
Shift your thinking
According to a recent TLNT article, here are some of the most common workplace benefits:
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- 77 percent of companies provide free coffee;
- 67 percent of companies allow employees to keep hotel points for business travel;
- 55 percent of companies provide a yearly company picnic;
- 55 percent of companies offer casual dress day one time a week;
- 54 percent of companies have a service anniversary award.
These benefits are becoming the norm in business culture. They are expected. Critical mass has been reached and they are no longer “benefits,” but more like the continental breakfast at hotels. While these perks are great and should not be left behind, it is time to make a radical shift in the employee benefits strategy.
At this point, upper management is beginning to scream because of the implied costs usually associated with a complete restructuring of benefits, but this does not have to be the case. Actually, here are three creative ideas to add value to your employees with little to no cost for your company.
- Help them get advice – One of the most common places for stress and concern today is finances. Offer financial services for your employees, whether it is a free seminar, an available representative for counseling or even a partnership with a local bank to help establish a fundamental savings account can mean leaps and bounds when recruiting new talent or retaining what you already have.
- Implement a local and national discount program – Why not help your employees spend less on the things they buy the most? Between tickets to sporting events, discounts on hotels and special deals in the stores where they shop, help the dollars they get stretch a little further. Be in control of your own proverbial inflation rate.
- Make family a focus – While your employees are putting in longer hours to help your company boost revenues, they are often doing so at the expense of their family. This may mean a little leniency is needed in the leave category. Sure, you may pay for it in the present, but you will have healthier and happier employees, which is statistically proven to increase productivity and effectiveness. You can also look at offering remote workdays. After all, this is the age of technology.
According to the MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends, there is a strong correlation between benefits satisfaction and employee loyalty. Often, companies think short-term fixes will improve long-term loyalty, but this is not the case. The HR practice must begin to adopt a long-term strategy, to think in terms of legacy rather than liability.
Sure, some fixes can happen quickly, but if you are honest with yourself and your employees, these types of fixes work best when they are strategically planned. Long-term thinking begins with talking to your employees about their concerns, listening to their pain points and beginning to develop benefits around those areas.
Outline a benefits plan that shows where you are now and where you plan on going, then let your employees connect the dots in the way they feel is most beneficial. Your longevity and open lines of communication will become a key to recruiting and retaining the top performers, rather than just the benefits you can stack.