With the national unemployment rate at 4.4 percent, the competition for talent is on a high boil. One of the best ways to attract top talent is to design a competitive benefits package and then market those benefits in way that compels candidates to apply.
It’s not enough to put a list on a job description page. Candidates want to see those benefits in action. How do your offerings support your employees through all the ups and downs of life? Your benefits package and how you market it can shape your employer brand for the better. But first, it’s important to understand the current climate of employee benefits.
In the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2017 Employee Benefits survey, nearly a third of organizations increased their overall benefits offerings in the past 12 months, with health (22%) and wellness (24%) benefits the most likely to be increased. Only 6 percent of the 3,227 respondents reported decreasing benefits overall.
“The top reason for increasing benefits was to remain competitive in the talent marketplace,” SHRM said. “Given that two-thirds of organizations (68%) were experiencing recruiting difficulty and skills shortages for certain types of jobs in 2016, organizations need to focus on providing a competitive benefits package to retain and attract top talent.”
Of course, benefits also play a vital role in retaining good employees, meaning less time, effort and money is spent to recruit replacements.
What’s Hot, What’s Not
According to SHRM’s survey, Health Savings Accounts, financial advice (including resource materials or referrals, online assessment and advice tools, group instruction and one-on-one advice with a financial counselor) and standing desks are on the rise.
Marketing Pro Tip:
How are your employees benefitting from a Health Savings Account? Maybe one employee is using a financial counselor to help save for a first home. See if any employees would be willing to be interviewed about their journey to good financial health and how your company is helping them get there.
On the decline in the past year were medical Flexible Spending Accounts (as they are being supplanted by HSAs), hardship withdrawals and loans from defined contribution plans, and tuition reimbursement for undergraduate and graduate study. The latter is rather surprising, given many employers’ interest in attracting millennials. But since 2013, the percentage offering undergraduate financial assistance has dropped by 8 points to 54 percent, and the percentage offering graduate assistance has dropped by 9 points to 50 percent.
A newer form of educational assistance, employer contributions toward student loan repayment, has remained low at 3-4 percent since being first tracked in 2015. Although not widely offered, the appeal of repayment assistance isn’t just limited to recent grads. The Government Accountability Office found that 26 percent of Generation Xers and 13 percent of Baby Boomers carry student loan debt. In a recent survey of 909 Americans over age 35, 75 percent of borrowers did not expect to be repaying student loans at their age, and 60 percent feel their loan payments are hindering saving for retirement.
Offering a Menu
Of course, even within an age group, different folks need different strokes. In MetLife’s 15th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study of more than 2,600 employees and 2,500 employers, 74 percent of employees said that the ability to customize benefits to meet their needs is important when considering taking a new job, and 72 percent said it would increase their loyalty to their current employer.
“Today, our lives reflect our preferences. We choose how our coffee is made, create personalized playlists and decide which apps we have on our phones. In all aspects of our lives, we can make choices to meet our unique needs. The same should apply when it comes to benefits,” said MetLife’s Todd Katz, executive vice president of Group Benefits. “This is particularly important for driving engagement and loyalty among Millennials, who comprise the largest generation in the workplace today.”
Different age, gender and life-stage groups don’t want drastically different benefits, but they do value benefits differently. Thus, you might highlight features of your total rewards package differently in your recruitment marketing vehicles. And since benefits offerings can be complex and confusing, make sure you communicate about them as clearly as possible.
While health care insurance, retirement plans, paid time off and disability insurance are among the best-known and most expected benefits, a host of other perks might flesh out your total rewards package to retain employees and appeal to desirable candidates.
Telecommuting options, flextime and other workplace flexibility options are especially desirable to Millennials, who view their work and personal lives as integrated and want to work outside the usual time and place constraints.
Marketing Pro Tip:
Speak to telecommuters about what their home office looks like and how they benefit from a flexible work environment. Ask them to take photos of their unconventional workspace so you can create a “Day in the Life” campaign of a telecommuter at your company.
Also consider these desirable benefits and perks:
• Casual dress
• Concierge services
• Adoption assistance
• Yoga classes
• Fitness center subsidies
• Back-up child care
• Free snacks
• Sports teams
• Legal assistance
• Employee discounts
• Spot bonuses
• Smart-phone subsidies
• Pets at work
• Employee-paid voluntary benefits such as term life and pet insurance.
At your next annual benefits review, be sure to include both HR and Marketing in the conversation to consider how your total package appeals to the candidates you want to reach. You, too, can retain the best employees, and maybe their friends, with benefits and a story.