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Workplace Trends • Gradifi

Why Modern Benefits Retain Talent

By Nancy Jackson | 2-min read

Unemployment remains at historically low levels, meaning it’s continually challenging for many organizations to hire and keep high-performing workers. In this tight labor market, your employees likely have other options for employment—so it’s important to make sure you’re providing a work environment where they’ll want to remain.

Help keep employees loyal, engaged and more willing to stick around by modernizing your benefits options. Modern benefits, which include voluntary options, can help improve the lives of your employees by meeting their specific needs, lifestyles and budgets.

Benefits Have Changed

Benefits aren’t just about healthcare and a 401(k) anymore. Today’s workers want more from their employers, and various employees value different benefits. For example, today’s employees place high value on benefits that make work more flexible, student loan repayment assistance, and other nontraditional benefits, according to a study published in The Harvard Business Review.

Changing demographics in the workplace means that workers’ needs have changed, and employers’ benefits choices need to catch up. For instance, members of Generation Z—those born in 1996 or after—highly value financial counseling and wellness, while Millennials place high value on learning and professional development, as well as the ability to have fun at work (think ping pong tables and gaming consoles). As an HR leader, you can take the lead in creatively redefining benefit options to better meet the needs of today’s workers.

Creative Benefits Boost Employee Engagement

Loyal employees are happy and engaged at work, and offering a creative benefits package is an important way that HR can help boost employee engagement and loyalty. Research shows that employees who develop a feeling of trust in their employer are more likely to be happy, engaged and loyal.

And employees are likely to develop trust in their employer when they have more choices and control in making decisions. For instance, insurance company ACUITY allows employees to participate in annual strategic planning and to decide to which charities the company will donate, according to Inc magazine. As a result of this freedom to make choices and contribute to workplace plans, ACUITY employees consistently give high ratings to their bosses and work environment, and the company has low voluntary turnover, at just 2 percent.

Employees also feel happier and more engaged when they feel that their employer cares about them, and creative benefits can show that feeling of caring. For instance, a survey showed that wellness programs are essential to employee job satisfaction, even among workers who don’t use them. Even the employees who don’t use the wellness programs feel cared for by the company because the programs are available.

Voluntary Benefits Provide What Employees Need

More employers are moving toward consumer-directed benefits (CDBs), which allow employees to tailor a benefit plan to meet their specific needs, lifestyle and budget. Voluntary benefits offer employees choices, allowing them to feel more capable of meeting their needs and to feel appreciated by their employers.

For instance, 69 percent of employers believe voluntary benefits will be a very important or more important component of their total rewards strategy in three to five years, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. In contrast, five years ago, 41 percent of employers said voluntary benefits would have little importance to the value they offer employees through their total rewards strategy.

One reason voluntary benefits are becoming so important is that they can cover a wide range of options, providing opportunities to meet the needs of diverse employees. These benefit options can range from life insurance and accident coverage to legal plans; hospital indemnity plans; discounts on home and auto insurance; pet insurance; consumer-directed healthcare accounts Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs); student loan repayment assistance and college savings help.

To keep your employees engaged and loyal, consider modernizing your benefit plans with new options. Your employees will not just be able to get important needs met, but they’ll also feel the love and be more likely to stay on board.