It’s October. Haunted hayrides scare eager customers, pumpkin patches are filled with jack-o-lanterns waiting to be carved, and stores are stocked with sugary treats. Yes, October means Halloween is right around the corner!
It’s also time for your company to introduce open enrollment season. As a conscientious human resources professional, you put a lot of diligence into crafting your benefits offerings. Your company’s carefully written benefits guide might answer the questions: Is this an active or passive enrollment? Are there new insurance carriers? Will medical premiums increase next year?
Yet, the real question is: Which Halloween candy best represents your company’s benefits?
This candy is old-school chocolate goodness. No fancy add-ins; it has tasted the same for generations. A Hershey® bar represents basic employee benefits.
Maybe your company offers only one medical plan option. Maybe your company does not contribute money for workers’ health savings accounts if they elect a high deductible health plan. Maybe the long-term disability offering is 100% employee-paid instead of funded by the company. Maybe telecommuting is not an option for workers at your organization.
Hershey® style benefits take care of workers’ baseline needs. These employee benefits are all about simplicity. Smaller or newer companies may start out with simple benefits as they get off the ground. With Hershey® bar offerings, the key is in the presentation. Benefits communications should be dynamic and engaging. With streamlined benefits, your company can offer non-monetary perks, like casual dress or summer half-day Fridays, to show employees they are valued.
This candy has it all: Nougat, caramel, peanuts, and chocolate. A Snickers® bar represents the full suite of employee benefits.
Medical, dental and vision insurance at various price points? Check. Basic and supplemental life and long-term and short-term disability insurance? Of course. Accident coverage to help pay for trips to the emergency room? Definitely. Health care, dependent care and transportation flexible spending accounts? Certainly. Employee assistance program to offer work-life guidance? Sure. Company match for the 401(K) savings plan? Affirmative. Parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child? Absolutely.
Keeping pace with the competition matters in recruitment and retention. Snickers® style benefits offer something for the widest employee demographic. Not every worker will enroll in each benefit. Offering possibilities creates and maintains a satisfied workforce.
This candy’s chocolate and coconut combination is not for everyone’s sweet tooth. But it does have its loyal followers.
A Mounds® bar represents out-of-the-box employee benefits. Your company offers employees the chance to buy supplemental long-term care insurance. That benefit is attractive to the sandwich generation. Between caring for aging parents and raising children, they need to think about their own future. Your company has a student loan repayment program. Such a benefit is golden for recruiting and retaining Millennial and upcoming Gen Z employees. Members of the Class of 2016 graduated college with an average debt of $37,172, according to Student Loan Hero. Your company takes care of its workers’ furry friends by offering voluntary pet insurance. Vet bills can add up, so this coverage gives employees peace of mind. The organization could have a pet-friendly office, so instead of finding a pet daycare, employees work alongside dogs and cats.
Not every corporation offers benefits like these and they make yours stand out. Mounds® style benefits appeal to fringe groups of employees. Your company offers standard benefits too, but uncommon offerings make workers feel appreciated.
Hershey®, Snickers® or Mounds®? No matter the flavor of your employee benefit offerings, they should sweeten the deal to hire and keep the brightest workers.
A few weeks ago, my colleague Andrew Clancy, blogged about how companies can keep Baby Boomers engaged at work. Now, I want to look at the other end of the age spectrum, the oft-discussed Millennials.
The Census Bureau categorizes Millennials as born between 1982-2000. This segment of the population makes up 40% percent of the American work force. By 2027, that percentage should grow to 75%. So, the chances are high you are either a Millennial yourself or you manage Millennials.
Companies need strong benefits to recruit and retain top talent across the generations. Affordable health care plans, paid time off, and employer-sponsored retirement matter to everyone. But what benefits are especially appealing to Millennial workers?
1.Tuition Reimbursement/Professional Development Budget
A Price Waterhouse Coopers survey of Millennial employees shows training and development is their most requested benefit.
Some fields need advanced degrees to climb the corporate ladder. Yet, the cost of graduate school can be out-of-reach to many Millennials who carry heavy debt from their undergrad years. In a Gallup Poll, 45% of Millennial workers would be willing to change companies if a new employer offered tuition reimbursement. That should be a wake-up call to HR professionals. Will a competitor poach your rising stars and provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs better?
Continuing education doesn’t always have to be part of a formal degree program. This generation values seminars and workshops that help them grow in their careers. 41% would change companies if given access to a professional development budget.
2. Flexible Work Schedules
In corporate America, the days of 9-5 are going the way of fax machines and smoking in the office. Flexibility was the second most-requested benefit in the PWC Millennials poll. A flexible work schedule can take many forms. It can mean working from home or untraditional start and end times or compressed work weeks.
This benefit is of high importance to Millennial employees. The Gallup poll shows 63% would change jobs to get a flexible working schedule. Fifty percent would change jobs for the chance to telecommute some of the time. Forty-seven percent would change jobs for the chance to telecommute all the time.
Telecommuting has two big benefits for companies. It reduces employee turnover and improves productivity. Both help the bottom line. Flexible working hours allow employees to schedule work when they are at their peak, producing stronger results. Workers on flexible schedules reduce the need to use personal days for daytime appointments. Telecommuting saves employees money on gas or public transit.
3. Child Care Benefits
The Millennial generation is approaching work-life balance in a new way. And that is especially evident in their approach to raising children. Gallup shows 44% of Millennials would switch jobs if their new company offered paid maternity leave. Thirty-seven percent would leave for paid paternity leave. Thirty percent would leave for child care reimbursements.
Human resources professionals may think their employees are not concerned with these issues. But, Business Insider reports an estimated 60 million Millennials will become parents over the next decade. This is in addition to the millennials who already have young children. The Millennial generation may be delaying childbirth, but not forever.
Especially with older Millennials, companies need to meet the changing needs of parents. Having benefits that look after workers’ long-term needs will help with retention when they become parents. Childcare is a large financial burden and discounts would ease one stressor for employees, making them more focused. Backup childcare or even on-site daycare helps employees not to panic when their regular options fall through.
Some employers may think they need to offer trendy benefits, like game rooms or beer fridges, to recruit and retain Millennials. In reality, Millennials want benefits that help them achieve career and life success.
In annual open enrollment communications, many organizations must explain why employee contributions have risen and coverage has changed. In our work with our clients, we see firsthand the tensions of benefits professionals. They try to offer the highest quality benefits while preventing higher costs from passing on to employees. This challenge of getting value for the money is echoed in many areas of employees’ lives outside the workplace. There is a widening gap between income and expenses that everyone is trying to address.
Fortunately, companies and employees alike are embracing Voluntary Benefits in greater numbers. Voluntary Benefits allow employers to offer a more robust benefits package to their employees. In effect, they help them “mind the gap.” They give employees the positive feeling of customization. Employees pick and choose the specific benefits that meet their needs. Coverage options range from life insurance to pet insurance to dental and vision plans; identity theft protection; even legal services and financial counseling. Voluntary Benefits are employee-paid but employees conveniently pay premiums through payroll deduction.
If your organization offers Voluntary Benefits, you should put extra effort into communicating their value to employees. You can raise awareness and increase participation in these valuable parts of your benefits offerings.
Help Employees Mind the Gap
If your employees don’t closely track their household finances, they might not understand certain life events could impact their budget. It’s important to emphasize the overall increase in the costs of services for everything from an x-ray to an hour of legal counsel. When presented with the total, employees may see a need for additional protection.
Explain How Each Benefit Works
Take a look at the average company’s benefits communications and you’ll see its medical plan(s) front and center. Once employees wade through information on deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, fatigue might set in when they reach the Voluntary Benefits section. It’s important to connect Voluntary Benefits, like critical illness or accident coverage, to your company’s medical plans. The location of such messages in your benefits booklets can remove some of the effort to create the connection for employees.
You should also consider creating additional, separate communications emphasize your Voluntary Benefits offerings. This will give you the opportunity to explain how each benefit works in more detail. This is a great opportunity to reinforce how each Voluntary Benefit fits into your company’s overall benefits philosophy. You want to use positive associations to help employees view Voluntary Benefits as possible solutions to the income/expense gap.
One of the strengths of Voluntary Benefits is that they provide great value when compared to the cost that comes out of an employee’s paycheck. Give employees scenarios in which the benefits could potentially help cushion the impact caused by a life event. Call attention to the coverage amounts so that employees understand what would be available in each situation. If you are able to paint a clear picture, you increase the chances the scales will tip in favor of employees enrolling in the benefit.