How employers can make the most of their employee benefits scheme and retain valuable staff
Ahead of an HR conference he will be attending this week, Secondsight Partner, Mark Bingham, shares his thoughts on the importance of employer communication when it comes to workplace benefits and rewards.
I’m going to a conference with more than 100 HR Directors this week, and many have been kind enough to state what their challenges are, and to list the sort of things they are looking to invest in.
As well as preparing for this event I am also working on a “lunch and learn” with another group of HR leaders.
Independently, both groups have placed retention at or near the top of their list of challenges, with employee benefits (EBs) and rewards high up on the list of things they want to invest in.
These cannot be unconnected!
It appears that the need to hold onto existing talent and to recruit new employees has overtaken almost everything else on the average HR leader’s wish list. I believe that this is the reason they are considering investing further in EBs and rewards.
Studies show that employees value benefits and rewards very highly overall
Of course, employers could simply buy some extra benefits to add to their suite of offerings. But a report by Group Risk Development (GRiD) last year found that 44% of employers admitted their employees were not entirely aware of the benefits on offer or didn’t fully understand them. And only 40% of employees thought their employer was communicating EBs effectively.
Amazingly, in an Aviva study, nearly 9 out of 10 employees said their workplace benefits “improved their overall happiness”. Plus, 41% of participants said they were attracted to their role for work-life balance, whereas only 36% said it was the salary that drew them to the job.
So, if HR representatives are searching for ways to improve retention, the data suggests that EBs and rewards could do just that.
Importantly, it’s my belief that communicating these benefits more effectively, rather than conducting a total overhaul of their current benefit scheme, could help employers hold onto talented employees.
Improving communication can boost the employee experience at every level
Bottom line: if people do not know what their benefits are, then basic communication is going to improve that, and good communication even more so.
Sadly, so many employers don’t take the time to remind people about EBs later in their tenure, so it is no surprise that many people leave jobs not knowing what their EBs were or what they were worth – let alone how to use them.
My sense is that we all need to look again at the way we communicate benefit information, so that the entire workforce is aware of what is on offer and why they are important. This should then be the measure that we use when communicating about any new benefits too.
Some communication elements that could improve employees’ understanding of EBs are:
- incorporating benefit awareness into new staff training and annual appraisals
- encouraging employees to share their positive EB experiences with the rest of the team
- housing the benefit scheme on an easy-to-use online platform that remote and hybrid workers can access easily
Please don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that improving benefits comms is going to stop employee turnover, but it might lower it to an extent. And it’s not just about communicating the benefits; many people in the workplace feel disconnected in the remote or hybrid working environment, so there are many reasons to improve communication at every level.
If benefits do need to be updated, you’d be surprised at what can be achieved with only incremental improvement coupled with a great employee experience.
I’m looking forward to discussing this topic further at the conference this week, and hope to gain even further insights on employee retention and employee benefits from fellow attendees.
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This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice.