A good boss may be the best employee benefit

NEW ORLEANS — Having a good manager is one of the most important benefits a company can offer.

That's according to Jeffrey Kowalczyk, senior investment consultant at Lowery Asset Consulting, who says companies need to train their managers to make sure they are creating a positive space in the office to retain top talent in a tight job market.

One in two employees have left a job to get away from a bad manager, supervisor or an overall negative work environment, Kowalczyk said Wednesday at the Benefits Forum & Expo. If an employee is unhappy at work, he said, it often follows them home and adds unnecessary stress, affecting their happiness and overall well-being.

“If you don’t think that’s an important benefit, you’re missing the boat,” he said at Employee Benefit Adviser and Employee Benefit News-sponsored event. “Make sure that managers are providing a good work environment.”

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Companies should reward good management skills and understand the characteristics of a good leader, he said. Employers should also prioritize the promotion and selection of good managers.

“Talk about great managers as your company’s number one benefit,” he said.

While work environment may play a significant role in employee experience, there are numerous other benefits that impact job retention. One in three employees surveyed said they would leave their job because a competitor had better benefits, he noted.

Roughly 60% of employees want health insurance and 54% said they wanted a performance bonus, according to a Gallup survey. Other highly desired benefits include flex time, pension plans, 401(k) with company match, paid vacation, paid leave, profit sharing and flexible locations.

Good benefits are sometimes more important than a high salary, said Kowalczyk. While most employers offer basic benefits like health insurance, differentiating benefits like 401(k) match and paid vacation, can help companies keep their employees happy and stay ahead of the competition.

“Be competitive in your industry, be competitive in your geographic location,” Kowalczyk said.

But employers should not rest on their current benefits plan, he said. It is important to reevaluate a benefits package on a regular basis to ensure they are in line with company culture. If a benefit goes underutilized, he said, examine it and offer opportunities for employees to regularly learn about these offerings. If any employer isn’t offering competitive benefits, employees may search elsewhere for a “better deal,” Kowalczyk said.

“Have little meetings every now and again where you talk about certain benefits that are underused,” he said.

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