The right benefits can drive employee retention
As the workforce continues to change at a rapid rate and the U.S. experiences historically low unemployment rates and a competitive hiring market, employers must listen to the needs and expectations of employees when it comes to their benefits programs. Providing a variety of benefits that are relevant for employees and have an impact on their personal lives has a significant influence on how an employee feels about their organization.
Our recent Thomsons Online Benefits Global Employee Benefits Watch report, which surveyed more than 2,000 employees from global multinational organizations, found that 81% of employees who can easily access their benefits said they feel loyal to their employer. This understanding and accessibility also makes employees prouder to work for an organization, more likely to be workplace advocates and see themselves working for their employer for the foreseeable future. While employee loyalty and engagement is a complex matter, engaged employees can increase productivity and, as a result, profit for a company.
Our recent research shows there is still a disparity between what support employees actually want from their benefits programs and what is available to them. For example, 57% of employees surveyed would like support from their employer in improving mental well-being, while only 23% of employers offer this kind of benefit. Additionally, 45% of employees surveyed want benefits to help them with their personal finances, and only 20% of employers offer this service.
On the other hand, areas where employers are meeting employee needs the most are those that are less important to employees, including getting married and socializing. Data collection and the right technology to process it makes it easier for HR teams to gain a personalized view of each employee and understand what they want the most, even at a very large organization.
It is crucial to know the differences between each individual, since our research shows that what might be important for one person within the 26-35 age group, such as buying a home, might not be a priority for another person in the same age demographic. If employers are able to personalize benefits needs, they can better provide the support their employees want.
The importance of seamless communication
In order to offer a personalized experience, employers need to listen to their employees, especially when it comes to how they want to interact with their benefits programs. In a world where technology has transformed the way we receive information and manage our day-to-day lives, it is important to consider the experience employees are having when interacting with their benefits programs. The research shows the employees who are most satisfied with how they access and manage their benefits are those who do so face-to-face with their employer (46%) and those that have options for online access through email (44%). Employee preferences for managing benefits can reflect how they access information in their personal lives, which often includes having a variety of communication options. However, this need for variety is currently not being met as over 50% of employees said they were unsatisfied with the current access options available to them.
This is very detrimental as the research found that 79% of employees who can easily access their benefits said they were proud to work for their organization, as opposed to 37% who find it hard to access their benefits. If employers are looking to replicate a consumer grade experience when it comes to their benefits program, they must first listen to how employees prefer to access information and manage activities outside of work.
Giving employees easy access to their benefits, while providing support so they truly understand and know how to utilize what is available to them, does have a significant impact on employees’ engagement with their organization. The research found that 80% of employees who said they had a good variety of benefits to choose from also said they identified strongly with their organization’s vision and values. And lastly, 77% of employees who understood the benefits on offer said they saw themselves at their organization for the foreseeable future.
Since benefits impact employees’ personal lives, there is no doubt that there is an emotive element in the benefits that an employer decides to give their employees.
There is clearly still some work to be done by employers to ensure their benefits programs support employees in the areas they individually want and need. This is essential as workforces are now expecting this kind of benefits support, as opposed to these benefits being seen as just a “nice to have.” Providing a variety of easily accessible benefits that are relevant for employees and that can impact their personal lives has a significant impact how an employee feels about their organization.
Employees who receive benefits that are personal to them, and help them achieve their life goals, are likely to be loyal to their employer, identify with their organization’s vision and values, and be an advocate for their organization.