The inextricable link between HR and benefits, and their relevance to the organization as a whole, is the subject of careful study at Paycor’s HR Center of Excellence. This universal online resource hub, recently launched by the provider of human capital management software and services, helps small and midsize employers benchmark and improve leading industry practices.

Based on insights gleaned from more than 35,000 customers, Paycor found that 75% of high-performing teams spend most of their time on six main pillars. They include recruiting, benefits, labor costs, people management, compliance and employee experience.

Tim Ruge, director of product marketing at Paycor, describes the role of benefits as a “secret weapon” that HR professionals in some cases are effectively using to increase employee engagement, as well as to recruit and retain top talent. One common thread is that they view benefits not as a cost of doing business, but rather an investment of critical importance.

In pursuing a more thoughtful approach to benefits, he says they’re more careful about selecting plans and vendors, shaping employee education and tying the impact of benefits to talent-management strategies.

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There’s a tendency to add benefits into the mix without connecting them to an umbrella view of the overall organization – leaving members of the C-suite clueless as to their strategic value, according to Karen Crone, chief HR officer at Paycor. An example is how family and medical leave fits with short- and long-term disability programs as part of a more holistic view in which employees understand the totality of their benefits and why they’re being offered.

Plan improvement

In establishing the CoE, Paycor surveyed HR leaders from more than 2,000 organizations, conducted follow-up research from Harris Interactive to confirm some of the initial conclusions and arranged one-on-one interviews. The company also committed to a deeper examination of how organizations that are just starting out in each of these areas can improve their practices.

Some of the key findings show that:

· 84% of employees with high benefits satisfaction report high job satisfaction.
· 70% of HR professionals spend two-thirds of their time on “people management.”
· 57% of U.S. job candidates report that benefits are among their top considerations before accepting a job.
· 45% of HR leaders cite recruiting the best talent as their top challenge.
· 38% of business leaders believe their level of compliance concern will grow over the next five years.
· New employees who are part of a well-structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to remain at a company for up to three years.
· Highly-engaged business units see a 41% reduction in absenteeism and 17% increase in productivity.

The CoE’s overview guide examines each pillar in detail and suggests ways to reinforce the foundation along the road to building the ideal HR team. Webinars and newsletters focused on these six pillars also are made available. In addition, the answers to brief quizzes on current HR practices are benchmarked against other survey responses and categorized at a beginner, intermediate or expert level. Appropriate content is then suggested to help drive action and improve results.

Connecting the community

In recent years, many Paycor clients or prospective customers expressed an interest in learning how to become more successful at recruiting, better at compliance or managing labor costs. “It was through that exercise we came to realize that our role is not just to provide software, but really to connect to the community of HR professionals and give them some insights and tips on the ‘how’s,’” Crone says.

15 employers that boosted benefits in the wake of tax reform.”

Rather than attempt to master all six assessments, which can be overwhelming, she says organizations would be better off digging deeper into a particular focus area and seeking incremental progress. Crone stresses a reliance on peers to improve HR practices and earn a competitive leg up, especially in organizations that find themselves behind the curve.

In terms of recruiting, Crone describes a solid benefits package as the driving force behind an organization’s ability to make a compelling offer. One timely topic that has caught her eye is harassment prevention in the workplace. She hopes to harness the power of Paycor’s CoE to help HR leaders share strategies to help their peers react to this issue.

“This research can help brokers elevate conversations with some of their customers,” Ruge believes, noting how the benefits package greatly influences a critically important metric like retention. “And if you look at our benefits pillar, you’ll find that having a broker is a part of being an excellent organization.”

Crone says benefit brokers “have a real advantage today as a partner because they touch all of the areas.” She cites labor costs as an area where they “have a big hand in helping HR professionals convey per-employee-per-month costs and how those costs compare to national standards.” Brokers can help funnel such information, along with their knowledge of compliance issues, in ways that help HR professionals become more relevant to the CEO and CFO, she adds.

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