If you survey your employees or potential candidates about which benefits are most valuable to them, you’ll get a variety of answers. A person fresh out of college will likely give a vastly different answer than a tenured employee who’s been with your company for 20 years.
There simply is no one-size-fits-all benefits package. So how do you determine the best benefit plan for your company? And how do you ensure that it meets the needs of your employees?
Consider Your Company’s Demographics
Different generations and perspectives in the workforce can contribute to a company’s culture and competitive advantage, but they can also create challenges for determining benefits.
The traditional approach to benefits has emphasized offering attractive retirement packages, employer matches for retirement investments such as 401(k) and robust healthcare coverage. Some employers, however, find that this approach isn’t necessarily compelling to many younger workers, and it creates a challenge for recruiting workers to fill the gaps left by retiring Baby Boomers.
No company has a bottomless budget to spend on benefits that appeal to everyone, but assessing your overall employee population can help you craft an attractive benefits package that may influence your benefits selection in the following areas.
If your workforce is made up of mostly younger workers who are generally in good health, you may not need to offer a plan with higher deductibles or co-pays to allow you to offer higher salaries.
Older employees, however, will typically spend much more on medical costs and prescriptions, and therefore, value a healthcare plan that results in fewer out-of-pocket expenses. An additional benefit that has become the norm is offering optional dental and vision coverage to employees.
Four in 10 Millennials say that saving for retirement can wait, according to a survey by Navient, and about one-third of respondents age 22 to 35 admitted they don’t have anything saved for retirement. While many experts find these statistics regrettable, it speaks to the priorities of younger generations. It also indicates what benefits they might value as part of a job offer.
When interviewing a younger candidate, an overemphasis on retirement plans and employer matches may not garner the excited response you’d expect. Instead, benefits that could help them overcome immediate financial challenges, such as paying off student loans, may pique their interest. In fact, some companies offer student debt repayment as an enticing benefit. Older generations, on the other hand, are far more apt to appreciate saving opportunities and will likely place a higher value on a 401(k) package and employer match.
The days of sitting down with an agent at the kitchen table to discuss life insurance policies are a thing of the past and companies now commonly offer life insurance to their employees. Workers who are the main breadwinners for their families may find a life insurance policy a significant perk, while younger, single workers might not put as much value in a death benefit.
The good news is that a basic plan for all employees is typically inexpensive. Some packages also make it possible for employees to voluntarily purchase additional coverage at low rates, making it a flexible and attractive benefit for all.
Beyond paychecks, healthcare and retirement plans, a healthy work/life balance is increasingly important to many segments of the workforce. For example, working parents often list flexible work hours as a top priority to allow time for children’s activities and appointments.
Developing a remote work policy may also be important to some workers, yet a set schedule in the office or shop floor is appealing to others. While some work environments aren’t conducive to remote workers, others can benefit from increased productivity and greater job satisfaction.
Disability or Paid Family Leave
Disability insurance is usually offered two ways—premiums can be paid by the employer or plans can be offered to employees as an optional benefit. If an employee is injured or becomes ill and is suddenly unable to work for an extended period, long-term-disability insurance can help cover expenses. Short-term disability may be more valuable to younger workers, especially women who want to start a family and may be out of work due to pregnancy.
Employers are getting more creative by offering paid family leave options. While many short-term maternity leave benefits cover about 60 percent of a worker’s salary, some major corporations have reported offering as much as six months of fully paid maternity leave. Other companies are offering two weeks of paid leave for spouses to stay home with the newborn.
While your organization may not be able to go quite that far, consider meeting somewhere in the middle by offering more time than you currently do at a higher percentage of a worker’s salary. It can go a long way in recruiting (and retaining) workers.
How to Choose the Right Benefits Package
Employers today need to reconsider how they position themselves in the marketplace and how their benefits packages are perceived by potential candidates as well as current employees. This requires truly engaging your workforce and understanding their needs.
While it’s important to offer creative benefit options, effectively communicating the value of those benefits is even more critical. It starts by thoroughly assessing your workforce and involving them in the benefits selection process.
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