Quick summary: Your employee benefits package is a key element in retaining a productive workforce. And with today’s economic turbulence fueling insecurity, reminding employees about the real value of those benefits can help them feel a bit less stressed (and perhaps more loyal).
Recent studies have found that benefits often outrank pay when it comes to factors that keep employees on the job. But workers rarely realize that benefits can represent one-fourth to one-third of their total compensation.
So it’s time for a little self-promotion.
Showcase your benefits year round. Small chunks of information shared on a regular basis are more likely to be absorbed. Ongoing communication also is the best way to prepare for changes that may be coming during open enrollment.
Increase awareness. Employees may be used to hearing about medical and dental coverage, life insurance, disability insurance, and retirement plans as part of their benefits package. But they’re unlikely to even realize that offerings such as wellness programs, vacation and sick time, fitness centers, child care centers, employee assistance programs, flexible working arrangements, and more have financial value to them and cost the company money. Take the total value approach to benefits!
Encourage participation. Once employees realize how much the company spends on benefits, they may be more accepting of change, especially if it means saving enough money to avoid layoffs or to allow expansion. They also may better understand the need for cost sharing.
Change behaviors. Benefits promotion also provides education. If you focus on areas where you’d like to change employee behavior, such as lowering the emergency room visits or increasing participation in flexible spending accounts, you also may see a cost savings.
Don’t neglect the little things. While the big benefits like health care draw most of the attention, don’t underestimate the value of offering and promoting low- or no-cost benefits. These might include discounts on recreation and entertainment or lunchtime lectures on topics of interest.
• Use focus groups to assess how familiar your employees are with the benefits they receive. How much do they really know?
• Map out a communications program that allows you to highlight the full range of what’s offered. Feature “typical employee” examples to show the total dollar value of the benefits and spell out your organization’s share of the cost.
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