Benefits That Truly Meet Employees’ Needs
According to the Society for Human Resources Management, the different life experiences of different age groups shape how they value workplace benefits.
This may sound like common sense — after all, you aren’t likely to value child care if you don’t yet have children – but in an increasingly diverse American workforce, it also means that your standard approach to benefits might not be meeting the needs of your employees.
The benefits you offer as an organization achieve two important goals: first, it makes your company more attractive to prospective candidates. When you offer a competitive benefits package, it can often be the final push for a candidate to choose your job offer over another. Second, benefits contribute to employee engagement. When paired with a competitive salary and a vibrant company culture, benefits offer a substantial way to show employees you value their quality of life inside and outside the office.
So, is your company doing its best to offer benefits that actually meet the needs of your current workforce? Here’s a handy checklist that can help you double-check that:
- How much does each benefit cost your organization each year?
- How does this compare to national averages?
- What percentage enrollment do you have for each benefit?
- What percentage of enrollment actually uses each benefit?
- What percentage of your benefits fall into categories of employee stability, wellness, or perks?
- Consider the demographics of your workforce in any categories that makes sense for your organization, such as age, race, gender, job type (hourly, part-time, full-time, etc.), level (entry, middle, executive, etc.).
Look for opportunities to reinforce and create employee engagement through benefits that reflect the diversity of your team. Here are some ideas you can use to modify your benefits to meet the needs of your team:
Ask your team what they want
Survey your team about your current benefits. What do they like? What do they use? Provide an opportunity for team members to suggest benefits they’d like to see in the future. You don’t have to make any promises about what will or will not be included in the future, but all feedback can be used to find a middle ground between what your team values and what your company is willing to offer.
Organize survey results according to demographic groups to capture any of the following trends:
- Short-term and long-term disability for positions that perform manual or highly-specialized labor
- Paid/unpaid sabbatical and flexible scheduling for industries and positions prone to burnout
- Maternity and paternity leave and adoption support for expecting parents in different age brackets
- Childcare stipends and programs for working parents
Re-think the basics
Retirement, time-off, and healthcare plans are a standard benefit for many organizations. But depending on an employee’s age or life stage, these benefits may not be helpful unless they’re flexible. For example, 68% of Americans aren’t saving for retirement in employer-sponsored plans. That means almost three-quarters of your team may not be using a benefit you’re offering! It may boost employee engagement more to invest in financial education opportunities or an alternative financial support plan that meet the needs of your employees where they are.
Consider alternative life needs
Life for your average employee has changed since benefits like healthcare were first offered in the 1940s. And as your employees’ needs change, their benefits needs change, as well. Reflect on your employees’ demographics and consider what alternative life needs they might have that vary from the traditional healthcare, retirement, and time-off formula. For example, it’s estimated that 21% of Americans provide unpaid care to an adult in their life. Sixty-one percent of these caregivers are women and 42% are above the age of 50 years old. If these statistics overlap with the demographics of your workforce, it might be worth including eldercare assistance as an option the next time you poll your team for potential benefits.
If there’s one thing to keep in mind when increasing employee engagement in a diverse workplace, it’s that different employees value different things. Don’t rely on your industry standard to set the bar for the benefits your company offers. Instead, take the time to understand the unique needs of your workforce to ensure the benefits you invest in really have an impact on employee engagement and satisfaction.