3 Steps for Using Benefits to Create the Workforce You Want
Companies across industries can take a simplistic view of benefits, only offering basic choices that allow them to “check that box.” But the reality is that benefits can be so much more than that—not only for employees, but for prospective employees.
Our Forrester-conducted study found that benefits were a differentiating reason for 66% of employees when deciding to join a company. Moreover, a report from Willis Towers Watson found that 75% of employees are more likely to stay with a job because of their benefits. Companies endure high costs for recruitment and training of new hires, only for turnover to often occur—since benefits obviously play a critical role in attracting candidates and keeping employees, why not put your benefits to work as a tool to create and keep the workforce you want?
At Evive, we’re often included in strategic conversations with our Fortune 500 clients about positioning components of a total-rewards package for greater recruitment and retention. This strategy isn’t only crucial for employee satisfaction, it’s imperative for business, as you can recruit people who are the right fit in the first place and increase retention as a result. What we have learned from our experiences with this strategy is that it boils down to these three steps:
1. Identify the workforce you want
For many people, work is tied to their identity. Who do you see taking pride in being part of your business? Who do you see taking the best care of your customers? Who do you see thriving in your company’s environment? Consider “the 5 rightS” of strategic workforce planning: right shape, right skills, right size, right site, and right spend. The type of workforce you need may evolve as your business changes, so think about what goals you need to achieve in the future when identifying your “5 rightS.”
As with any industry, we must understand the audience we’re targeting before we can engage them. In this case, HR professionals must understand the prospective hires they’re after before they can craft benefits that attract them. Examine the factors that make up your workforce and what those factors tell you that might inform benefits selections.
2. Determine what that workforce values
Once you’ve figured out who these people are, it’s time to figure out what they care about. Let’s say you’re looking to recruit recent college graduates for a number of entry-level positions you have open—many of whom have student loans. Financial-services firm Fidelity Investments, for example, launched a student-debt employer contribution program to help its estimated 25% of employees who have student loan debt.
Maybe you have employees with very specialized skills who have been with your company for many years that you are seeking to retain. Many of them may be taking care of elderly parents, so more emphasis on elder care benefits could be of value in this case. For example, Bank of America and its Merrill Lynch Wealth Management division implemented a caregiver resources program to cater to many of their employees who care for aging parents.
3. Choose benefits that attract—and retain—that workforce
You know who you want to find and keep, and you know what they value. Now you can make informed benefits decisions. Implementing the benefits is just one piece of this step, however. The other piece is actually connecting people with the benefits you’ve picked.
For prospective employees, encourage managers to be upfront in interviews about the benefits available to the candidate that would likely pique their interest. For current employees, keep the conversation about their benefits (including new benefits) going—not just during their new hire orientation and open enrollment. Some online HR portals now enable companies to keep these communications going in ways that are relevant to the employee and their individual situations. By keeping both new hires and current hires informed about these tailored benefits choices, we can recruit and retain effectively.
As we wear our employer hat at Evive, we’ve applied these tactics to our own business as well. This includes offering a student loan reimbursement program for our largely millennial workforce, a zero-employee-contribution for a high-deductible health plan, an HSA contribution to enable savings for health and better consumerism, 401(k) matching so everyone can maximize their savings early on in their careers, and referral bonuses to encourage smart recruitment from those who know our culture best.
Think back to that 66% of employees who took a job due to benefits—how many of your ideal candidates have you potentially lost by not considering that factor? With a well thought-out total rewards strategy, employers can stand out in the crowded job market and, most importantly, proactively shape their workforce to consist of as many best-fit hires as possible.