Are You Evolving With Your Employee Benefits?

July 29, 2014 Darcy Jacobsen

FruitBad news. SHRM just released their annual survey evaluating the state of employee benefits in 2014, and if you compare those results to the same benefits a few years ago, the findings are a little depressing. Health costs have taken up more and more of the pie, as education, financial and retirement benefits decline. As US News and World Report recently wrote, many of the crown jewels from the 2010 benefit offering are disappearing today.

This report is part of a general hue and cry about vanishing employee benefits, as things like pension plans, education reimbursements, and even health care coverage itself begin to scale back or fade away.

But don’t strike up the funeral march yet.

Employee benefits aren’t actually going anywhere. As most of us in HR know, we spend more money than ever on keeping our employees happy, healthy and committed. And not all of that money is going to healthcare. Benefits aren’t disappearing. What they are doing is evolving.

When we talk about the advent of new, non-traditional benefits over the past decade, we’re not just talking about the mega-benefits companies like Google offer, like game rooms or on-site dry cleaning.

Really, we’re talking about every-day benefits that are cropping up in companies like yours and mine.  Perks like flextime, working from home, wellness programs, shopping or entertainment discounts—and employee recognition—that are gradually replacing the decaying benefits line-up of years past.

For the most part those changes are very timely, targeted and welcome.

The question is… are your recruitment efforts evolving with them? Are you leading your hiring charge with these perks? Is your employer brand adequately reflecting the new reality of employee benefits, or are you still hesitant to talk about them as “real” benefits, in the way you might tuition reimbursement or a 401(k) plan.

When we poked around recently, we found that many companies are still underselling non-traditional benefits–like employee recognition—as key employee benefits.

This is mind-boggling, especially in the case of recognition, because so many companies immediately understand the value of recognition in driving engagement and retention in a cost-effective way. It is one of the most high-value, high-impact benefits you can invest in. And if it plays such a big part in getting people to stay, of course it can play an equally strong role in getting them on board to begin with.

Yet even when it comes to recognition, not everyone is leveraging its full potential. I’ve spoken with companies—otherwise fully engaged with recognition—who are still missing the opportunity to include it as a prominent part of their recruitment strategy.

That’s a shame, because an employee recognition program is a huge benefit to a hiring employer’s brand. Not only is it something any employee would love to have, but it also sends a clear message about your company culture and priorities. It lets people know that you put employees first. It lets people know that if they work hard for you, they will be noticed and appreciated and rewarded.  Companies who DO lead with recognition in their recruitment efforts are able to show their differentiation as an employer in an otherwise highly competitive hiring landscape.

And recognition is just one example of these missed opportunities. Embrace the changing benefits landscape, and leverage things you’re already doing to attract more (and better) candidates. If your employees have the flexibility to work non-traditional hours or from home in order to meet family obligations, that is a benefit of working for you, and should get equal billing with a vision plan in your recruitment materials.

So consider featuring these benefits more prominently on your website careers page and in your recruitment strategy and really leveraging those benefits in your hiring process.

As an example of a company who is doing this right, I think Symantec does a great job of this. Check out their benefits page, which leads front and center with a FANTASTIC video on their Workhuman Applause recognition program. Who wouldn’t want to work for that sort of company?

So, how is your company evolving to promote your less traditional benefits?


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