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Employee Benefits—Managing Them for Everyone

Employee benefits have become increasingly complicated for business owners as they struggle to address them for very different generations of workers. Baby boomers may want time off for elder care, while millennials may want extra paid vacation or flex time.

Compounding the issue, workers have become increasingly willing to turn down a job offer—or even leave one company for another—to acquire the benefits package they desire. Organizations can address these concerns without negatively affecting the firm. All it takes is a little ingenuity and flexibility.

The recent 2017 Society for Human Resource Management study on Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement offers insight into this situation. We’ve hit some of the high points, below, but you can read the entire report, here. The survey found:

  • The most valued components of a benefits program address employee quality of life: health care, leave and flexibility. Not only were these benefits important; they also displayed the greatest gap between importance and level of satisfaction with current corporate policies and attitudes.
  • Financial advice benefits are on the rise, going from 28 percent in 2014 to 49 percent in 2017.
  • Over the past four years, spousal and domestic partner benefits have increased:
    • 95 percent provide health care coverage for opposite-sex spouses.
    • 85 percent provide coverage for same-sex spouses.
    • Just over one-half provide coverage for domestic partners, regardless of whether they are the same or opposite sex.
  • Nearly one-third of organizations increased their overall benefits offerings in the past 12 months, with health (22 percent) and wellness (24 percent) benefits topping the list.

Benefits Don’t Have to Break the Bank

Owners of small and midsized businesses reading this survey may wonder how they can compete for top talent with large corporations and their fancy benefits packages. With a little imagination, smaller firms can thrive in their hiring and retention efforts, compared to larger competition. Here’s how:

  • Foster a caring, “family” environment, with frequent employee gatherings, recognition of personal needs and other approaches that are difficult for larger companies to manage.
  • Be flexible—if a worker wants four weeks of vacation, for example, let him or her have it, but reduce compensation accordingly.
  • Offer perks that build employee loyalty but don’t break the bank. Flexible work hours, part-time telecommuting and casual dress codes, where appropriate, don’t cost the firm a penny yet deliver substantial value in terms of employee appreciation.

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