(5-7 minute read)
Your workforce probably consists of a wide variety of ages—Generation Z recent college graduates, millennials with young families, Gen Xers with high schoolers or college-bound kids, and baby boomers who are nearly ready to retire. Regardless of their age, their benefits package is an essential part of their compensation.
But how can a benefits package meet the needs of all your employees, regardless of their phase of life? Is the package you’re offering competitive enough in today’s tight employment market? And besides, what benefits do employees want from their employer?
While you might look at benefits as a necessary expense of doing business, employees look at them not only as part of their compensation but also as proof of how much the company cares about its people. They show that you look out for your people’s general well-being, including their health, finances, and quality of life.
The recent low unemployment combined with decreased corporate tax rate resulted in some companies reinvesting those savings into better benefits in order to retain talent. What did companies add? Coffee bars? Nap rooms? Game rooms? Onsite coffee bars with full-time baristas? While some companies did go that far, most chose to address the more practical needs of employees.
The most popular additions have been tuition reimbursement plans and student loan repayment plans. Close behind was the expansion of maternity and paternity leave benefits. Of course, cash is always king, so some companies gave out company-wide bonuses. Others extended full-time benefits to part-time employees.
Other trending ideas that your employees may see as valuable are pet insurance, retirement planning services, fitness club memberships, employee discounts for your product or for surrounding businesses, (think local child care centers or restaurants), or floating holidays to accommodate various religions or priorities.
Your challenge as a plan sponsor is to design an affordable benefits package that everyone will love, regardless of their phase of life. To accomplish this, you might want to create a basic package, then add a buffet of other options and upgrades that employees can choose based on a points system assigned according to their cost to you.
For example, everyone can get the dental plan, but certain people may want to add orthodontia benefits, while others may want to have a few extra days of paid time off. Some may choose pet insurance and gym membership over an extra percentage of match on their 401k. As a reward for longevity, you can increase the number of points allowed after a tenure of five years, expanding each person’s benefits package to include the things that are most important to them.
Regardless of age, all employees desire work/life balance. Alternatives such as flex time and work from home options are easier to implement for companies that operate on clear OKRs—Objectives and Key Deliverables—versus a time clock, at-your-desk mentality. This flexibility makes employees feel respected and trusted while facilitating healthy well-being and productivity. In addition, it offers you a great ROI: employees are more likely to pitch in when extra hours are needed because they feel more invested in the success of the company.
There are also benefits that are free to you, just requiring some planning and implementation. Employees like to work for a purpose, not necessarily just for your profit. Keep them up to date on how the business is going and how you are impacting clients, your community and, if applicable, the world. Also, make sure everyone understands their potential career growth and future opportunities.
Lastly, regardless of the economy, job market, and age of your employees, there are three benefits that cost you nothing and never go out of style: showing appreciation, giving respect, and saying, “Thank you”.
April 18, 2019
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