As an employer, you know nothing matters more than hiring and keeping the best employees. But in the tightest labor market in years, you also know offering "competitive" pay is no longer enough — employees today want more. In fact, a recent survey found 80% of employees would choose additional benefits over a raise.
Done right, employee benefits make your company stand out, but only if they’re tailored to your workforce. But it’s hard to use benefits to attract talent if workers don’t understand what their benefits are worth, or the benefits themselves — and many don’t. With five generations in the workplace, it’s more important than ever that employers curate a broader variety of benefits that meet everyone’s needs. Here’s how to help.
Personalize healthcare offerings
The days of one-size-fits-all health plans are over. Give your employees options like a traditional PPO and an HDHP to ensure people can select the level of insurance coverage that fits their (and their family’s) needs. Also, be sure to play up the triple tax advantage of an HSA for those who elect HDHPs.
Expand into wealth and lifestyle benefits
Do you think that offering a wider variety of benefits will cost more? Think again. Many employees select voluntary benefits even if an employer contribution isn’t part of the deal, because having a curated selection of benefits is a huge value-add — especially for those benefits that are hard to purchase on your own. Benefits like student loan repayment and identity theft protection can make a tangible difference in people’s lives, often at no cost to you.
Open an ongoing conversation
You may think you know what benefits your employees want, but don’t make assumptions. Employees probably won’t announce they’re behind on bills or struggling to care for an elderly parent. To make sure you’re meeting their collective and individual needs, conduct regular, anonymous surveys about the benefits you offer and the benefits they want most.
To boost utilization, educate your employees
High enrollment numbers are nice, but utilization rates tell a more meaningful story. After all, benefits only work if your employees use them, and many don’t — often because they don’t understand the plans, or they forget. Employers must actively educate their workforces about making full use of their benefits. Try personalized communications like notifying employees of deadlines or giving example scenarios of when benefits can be used. Share "success stories" of how people within your organization used their benefits to achieve victories like paying off student loans or saving substantial cash on vision care. Lastly, be sure to deliver these messages via a communications plan that includes email, video, and in-person events like seminars so your message reaches everyone.
Aim for active enrollment
Too many employees enroll in benefits on auto-pilot. They check the same boxes year after year without stopping to think about how their lives may have changed. To prevent this, employers can require each employee makes a selection, versus defaulting to last year’s benefits, and provide a checklist of questions to guide their choices — things like, "Did you have a baby this year?" or "Are you turning 55?"
Play up the cash value of benefits
When it comes to compensation, many employees are laser-focused on salary. But a significant portion of overall compensation comes from benefits — the average employer pays about three times what their employees contribute toward health benefits: The average single PPO premium costs an employee $1,544 and an employer $4,964; for family plans, it’s $4,375 for an employee and employers pay the other $12,121. These are striking numbers, which is why it’s important to provide a comprehensive "total compensation" statement so employees see exactly how much you invest in them.
When employees’ health, financial, and lifestyle needs are met, everybody wins: Employees who are better protected are less distracted by stress in their personal lives and therefore more productive, while employers benefit from higher retention. The best way to help your employees choose and use the benefits that will make a real difference in their lives is by curating a broad set of benefits products and educating them on their choices, how plans work, and their value.
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