Strategies to help clients attract and retain top talent

You could say we are in a sellers’ market when it comes to talent, with job seekers now finding employers fighting to hire them. Data from the U.S. Labor Department shows a near record low unemployment rate at 3.7%. At the same time, private sector hourly wages are up 2.8% from last year, indicating employers are upping their pay to remain competitive.

While finding the right amount and level of talent to achieve business goals is the most important business objective for 21% of employers — according to Aflac’s WorkForces Report, a survey on benefit trends — attracting and retaining talent is not always easy, especially in today’s tight labor market. Businesses face fierce competition for top talent. While salary is still an important factor, offering a comprehensive benefits package that appeals to a wide range of workers is another area where employers can have a competitive edge.

In fact, 55% of employees admitted they are at least somewhat likely to take a job with slightly lower pay, but a more robust benefits package, the survey said. The importance of employee benefits is only heightening, and employers are turning to advisors for answers. As companies map out their hiring strategies for the rest of 2019, below are three ways benefit advisors can help clients build an informed, loyal workforce.

Understand changing workforce expectations

The values of younger generations are redefining the way companies attract and retain talent. This is not surprising considering that more than 1 in 3 American workers (35%) are millennials, according to Pew Research Center. And there is a whole new group of workers just getting started in the labor market companies should begin to consider. Generation Z is made up of approximately 61 million people in the U.S., with the oldest graduating college this year. Together, these influential generations have different expectations from their older counterparts. As the youngest employees in the workforce, millennials and Gen Zers are typically healthier and further from retirement, so they are focused on short-term financial priorities like repaying student loans and building up an emergency fund. Younger workers do not typically consider traditional insurance and retirement benefits as differentiators.

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Benefit advisors should work with clients to think beyond insurance to engage these employees. One way is by offering benefits that not only protect them in case of illness, but also addresses their health holistically, including their physical, mental and financial well-being. Incorporating benefits employees appreciate — and are applicable to their lifestyles — such as student loan repayment programs and telemedicine services, can round out a strong benefits package and have an immediate, positive impact.

Throw out the one-size-fits-all strategy

Each employee is unique, and their benefit options should reflect that. Working with businesses to provide products workers can weave together to address their specific needs, family history or lifestyle will result in employees feeling better protected. Introducing voluntary insurance, or widening the voluntary portfolio, is one way to achieve this goal. In fact, a strong majority (85%) of employees see a growing need for voluntary insurance benefits, according to the Aflac survey. Voluntary products help provide financial support when insureds experience an injury or illness. When qualifying events occur, they can receive cash benefits to go toward health-related costs and other expenses, regardless of other insurance policies already in place. Recipients can choose to use the money as they see fit, even for daily living expenses such as rent, groceries or child care, which may be hard to keep up with after an illness or injury. Offering voluntary insurance will not only help employees better customize their insurance coverage, but can also help provide the added financial protection many of them seek so they can focus on recuperating instead of finding ways to pay their bills.

Leverage technology in the benefits enrollment process

As with other industries, technology is having a major impact on the way healthcare is offered, purchased and delivered. Notably, the survey said nearly half (44%) of employees say they wish enrollment was like shopping on Amazon.com, with the ability to easily compare plans — something many health insurance exchanges and new administrative platforms are beginning to accomplish. This means using technology for healthcare enrollment can be key to offering a competitive benefits experience.

While the use of technology during benefits enrollment is not new, there is room to use it more effectively. Beyond creating a more efficient enrollment experience, technology can improve employee engagement and preparedness for open enrollment. For example, offering digital guides and short educational videos on the enrollment platform ensures employees have the information they need to understand and manage their benefits. Advisors can also help clients craft reminders and educational messages to push out via email and mobile. Additionally, working with clients to offer web-based enrollments, coupled with personal consultations, will play a vital role in educating employees prior to and during the selection process so they are confident and satisfied with their benefits choices.

Set clients up for successful talent recruitment

There is no guaranteed formula for attracting and retaining the best and the brightest talent; however, there are several things employers can do to help keep employees content. By helping companies better understand evolving employee expectations, reviewing additional benefits options and introducing technology to the benefits process, advisors can help clients avoid the cost of turnover and implement a successful hiring strategy. Implementing these tactics could mean better-performing teams for the client — and a long-term customer for you.

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