Eight Employee Benefits Worth Considering to Attract and Retain Talent

Even though we are hearing conversations about layoffs and recession, that doesn’t mean organizations aren’t having challenges finding qualified employees. In all my years in HR, attracting and retaining talent has always been a top priority.

During this year’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Talent conference, I had the opportunity to hear Jeanne Sutton talk about employee benefits strategies. She introduced this conversation by pointing out that the average candidate has 2-3 job offers to choose from, so maintaining a competitive benefits package is important.

She also reminded us that with the large number of open jobs nationally, an employer’s goal should be to attract people who have left the workforce (i.e., possibly parents and retirees). Here are a few benefits she mentioned:

Summer Fridays. Prior to the pandemic, one of the trends that businesses were implementing was a “summer” schedule. It might have included working a shorten schedule or remotely on Fridays. Maybe it involved a relaxed dress code. Organizations that are trying to bring back a bit of a pre-pandemic vibe as an employee benefit, might want to consider resuming a summer schedule.

Daily pay or gig pay. Another trend that was gathering attention prior to the pandemic was the option of daily pay. Employees can request their pay at the end of their shift. This was also being extended to gig/contract worker. Pay flexibility can be a huge advantage.

Holiday pay. Speaking of pay, many organizations have a waiting period for employees to receive holiday pay. Does it make some sense to waive the waiting period? Start paying holiday pay from day one as an employee benefit. Your organization can do the math and figure out how much of a financial impact this would have. It could be that the benefits outweigh the cost.

401(k) plans. Employers don’t necessarily have to offer new benefits to be competitive. They can consider updating existing plans. For example, companies can shorten vesting requirements to their 401(k) plans. They can encourage rollovers and possibly waive matching requirements.

Student loans. One of the first things that might come to mind when we hear student loans is that this is a young person’s problem, and they have plenty of time to pay off their loans. Sutton mentioned in her session that an increasing amount of student loan debt actually belongs to parents who took out loans to pay for their kid’s education. That debt could be an obstacle when it comes to someone’s overall financial planning.

Reproductive health care. This is a front-page subject right now. Some organizations have updated their policies to include reproductive health care procedures like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and abortion. Your organization should decide what’s best.

Psychedelic-assisted therapy. In addition to reproductive health, some organizations are exploring psychedelic therapy as an alternative to traditional medicine in employee benefits. Psychedelic therapies have been mentioned in treatment for depression and anxiety. With the emphasis on employee mental health and wellbeing, some organizations like the soap maker, Dr. Bronner’s, are pledging millions of dollars.

Phased retirement. Speaking of financial planning, individuals might be looking for some options when it comes to their retirement strategy. Either coming back into the workforce for a few years or gradually exiting the workforce over time. Organizations have a real opportunity to attract and retain workers if they’re able to deal with open conversations about retirement planning.

The point of this list isn’t to say that you absolutely must implement these benefits or risk losing candidates and employees. It is to challenge us to think about the purpose of an employee benefits package – which is to attract and retain employees. If your current package doesn’t do that, maybe it’s time to think about what would get employees excited.

Also, one more thing. Making changes to an employee benefit program can be tricky. I would advise organizations to bring in experts to help manage the process. I wrote a couple of articles a while ago on the “implications of legacy benefits” and “considerations when eliminating benefits”. They might offer some insights.

As the business world changes, employee benefits are going to change along with it. Ultimately, the company’s benefit package should align with the culture. What do your benefits say about you as an organization? Are they in sync with modern times?


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