Beefing Up Benefits: Six Strategies to Strengthen Your Package

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You’ve developed stronger position descriptions, beefed up your budget for competitive pay, established a clear profile for your ‘best-fit’ job candidates, and ramped up recruiting efforts. Now, you just have to select the right people. After all, once you find the perfect candidate, they’re going to all but trip over themselves to join – and stay with – your team, right?

Wrong. Many business owners think that in a challenging economy with lots of people in the labor market looking for work, that candidates should be eager to work for a company with a middle-of-the-road benefits program. What this discounts is that during a down economy, people are more worried than ever about taking a job with a weak or unstable employer. Giving your employees a mediocre benefit package is akin to labeling your business with ‘caution’ tape – and it will result in more declined offers and short-term tenures by top candidates than almost any other factor.

But let’s face it – benefits are expensive. How can a small company or one in a highly competitive market compete when it comes to creating a powerful package? Here are six strategies you should consider:

1. Stop Paying Employees to Get Their Own Insurance

Thanks to the ongoing evolution of the Affordable Care Act and its IRS-related implications for tax and business regulations, continuing to pay your employees cash to ‘reimburse’ them for their own out-of-pocket costs for insurance could run afowl of federal regulations. But even putting that aside, employees hate getting their own individual coverage, and for good reason. Group plans offer a wider range of services, and usually a strong provider network. And employees often perceive that an employer who reimburses for securing individual coverage is no different from an employer that doesn’t offer insurance. Remember, in most cases you can find a group plan with as few as two or three employees!

2. Add an Employee Wellness Program

Once you’ve bitten the bullet and replaced an ‘everyone for themselves’ approach to insurance with a proper group health plan, go an extra mile and build in some further value for that investment. You could offer to pay for employees’ monthly gym membership fees, or you could do something even simpler like inviting nutritionists, massage therapists and other health practitioners to come to your place of work to give free talks or, in some cases, offer discounted services to your employees.

3. Provide Access to Voluntary or Supplemental Insurance

In addition to your traditional, employer-provided health and related coverages, you can also consider offering voluntary insurance as an added perk. Voluntary insurance programs provide optional coverage – that employees pay for on their own – but that they access through their employer, and at a lower rate than they would be able to access individually. You’re providing a benefit with a monetary value, but the value is achieved by virtue of your role as an employer, and not necessarily through a cash investment on your part. These may include accident insurance, extended-illness coverage, hospital indemnity insurance, short-term disability and more.

4. Amp Up the Education and Fringe Benefits

Fringe benefits have been shown to dramatically impact employee satisfaction – even if they are small investments and/or require little management or maintenance. On the one end of the spectrum, you could offer an employee transit subsidy for commuting. On the other end, you could deliver an employer-provided vehicle (company car) for an employee’s use. The best fringe benefits are those that improve the quality-of-life of the employee, whether that be in terms of time saved (such as an office concierge or on-site dry cleaning and laundry pickup/drop off) or opportunities experienced (such as educational or training reimbursement). Don’t be afraid to ask your employees what THEY would appreciate!

5. Negotiate Employee Discounts and Special Offers

Loyalty is built on opportunity, and one of the secret weapons you have to build employee loyalty is the opportunity to give them special offers and deals that will make their day just a little brighter. Talk with a local restaurant owner about offering a monthly employee discount for your staff and their families. Consider offering employees discounted or subsidized membership to a business or social club. What about using your frequent flyer miles to help support a personal travel benefit for a deserving staff member and their family? And, don’t forget about your local Chamber of Commerce. In most cases, if your company is a member, your employees can attend chamber events too!

6. Increase Awareness & Utilization of Your Benefits

One great irony is that many employers invest in comprehensive benefits, only to have employees underutilize them. The problem with this is that a benefit that no one uses rapidly becomes a benefit that no one remembers. Do things like offering regular in-office workshops or lunch-and-learns; holding competitions to encourage employees to use the full range of preventive-care benefits and resources; provide a benefit planning ‘office hour’ timeslot when employees can review and consult with HR or a benefits administrator on how to use their benefits more effectively; and more. If you offer any type of a retirement plan, I’ll bet your advisor will be more than glad to talk with your employees. Plus, it’s your fiduciary responsibility to provide this type of training if you offer these programs!

Build a Stronger Culture by Providing Better Benefits

When you’re crafting your benefit strategy, remember that it’s about much more than just attracting and retaining solid employees – it’s about building the right culture in your company. Taking one or more of these steps toward success will empower your team to deliver a stronger, more proactive benefit offering to your current and future employees. And that, in turn, will help prepare your company and its people for a dynamic and successful future.

For more information on how your business can develop and implement effective benefit and employee retention strategies, contact HR Resolutions today for a free initial consultation to discuss how on-site, on-call and as-needed HR outsourcing can work cost-effectively in your business, or call us at 717-652-5187.

Editor’s Note:

At HR Resolutions, we don’t just share great ideas and recommendations with our clients and friends; we implement them ourselves. For example, we’re improving our own 2015 benefits program to include higher salaries to offset the taxable income rule affecting employee insurance purchases; offering new, company co-paid life/disability insurance; and implementing a company car benefit for select employees.

Selected Sources:

Keep Your Best Employees With Better Benefits

Providing Employee Fringe Benefits Can Increase Job Satisfaction and Performance

Voluntary Insurance 101

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