No matter the industry, benefits are truly a competitive resource that companies can use to attract high quality talent. Each generation has different needs and perks depending on their personality traits and popular trends; but all generations are looking for their employer to be top notch when it comes to offering benefits beyond a healthy salary. According to MetLife, “49 percent of employees polled said benefits were an important reason they came to work for a company, and 60 percent said benefits are an important reason for staying.”
Did we mention that benefits are important?!
While standard benefits like vacation time and 401K programs can be effective, innovative companies are starting to offer more unique benefits for their valuable team members. Even though health insurance and retirement savings are very important pieces to the puzzle, different generations of people have different perspectives on what’s important in life, and therefore may have different expectations when it comes to employee benefits.
Creating a benefits plan for your company that can attract top talent, as well as retain your current work force (despite generational differences) is key to beating out your competitors and running a successful business. This complicated task takes focus! According to LifeHealthPro, “we must become experts at multitasking, developing a deep understanding of the needs and desires of both younger and older employees, and assembling flexible benefits packages that meet multiple goals at once.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics states that the older labor force is projected to grow more than five times as fast as the overall labor force by 2016; and by this year, 2014, one third of the workforce will be age 50 or older. This means that almost 7 million “traditionalists” (WWII generation) will still be at work accompanied by millennial generation members that have grown up with the current technology and conveniences of the modern age. While many differences exist between these camps of individuals within the workforce, there are still a few ways that companies are thinking outside of the box to acquire rockstar quality talent. Consider these options for your business in order to attract the type of high level employees your company desires.
Vacation & Sick Time
Many companies are offering unlimited, or highly generous time when it comes to vacation and sick pay. This type of benefit works for some employees and not for others. Richard Branson, well-known entrepreneur and CEO of the Virgin Group recently announced that his employees, approximately 170, can take as much time off as they like. While others may think this is a radical approach, he believes that this policy is completely “awesome” and “humane”. In an interview with CNN, Branson states, “treat people as human beings, give them flexibility, and I don’t think they’ll abuse it. They’ll get the job done.” Many other companies are adopting highly flexible vacation policies. Hiring top-notch talent also becomes easier when you offer a vacation “non-policy”. Companies like SAS, a leader in business analytics software, offer a generous three weeks of company paid vacation time plus unlimited sick days for their employees. This policy has helped SAS to gain employee trust and retention, topping lists like Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For“.
Google on the other hand takes the stand that “more benefits means happier employees, happier employees mean more company loyalty, and more company loyalty means increased profits.” However, for a multi-billion dollar company, it can be rather easy to fund more and more benefits for their employees. On the other hand, smaller businesses can also work in benefits that fit the budget, as well as gain A+ talent.
Help Employees Save Money
Whether it is a discount to local merchants like restaurants, movie tickets, or even professional sporting events, employees love discounts or free perks. Helping them stretch their paychecks is one of the best ways to reward them for their service. This type of benefit can come in all shapes and sizes and be a low cost to the company if partnered with the right vendors. Often times professional sports teams offer discount rates for groups to schedule a company outing. Another great idea is to organize yoga or exercise classes for your employees to help relieve stress and get active. Not only does this benefit their wallets; but also it helps to improve health, well-being, and overall happiness to increase productivity.
According to a MetLife study,79 percent of “professionals whose employer makes work-life balance easier are more satisfied with their jobs, more loyal to the company, and less likely to be distracted at work by stress and personal issues.” Allowing employees to have flex-time where they’re able to work from home or have a flexible schedule that best fits their family and personal needs is a great way to increase the potential for the best talent. Technology in the work place is helping to increase the possibility to perform daily work tasks from any location, without costing employers in lost productivity. For example, many companies are offering work from home positions or early ending times on Fridays.
Make Work Fun
The best companies offer their employees more ways to have fun and unwind at work! The typical cubical environment is becoming a thing of the past as more companies take a communal, open space concept along with an effort to provide fun and loose structure to the work day. More creativity happens when people are comfortable and able to express themselves rather than cooped up all day.
Zappos offers free food, beverage and lunch for their employees; as well as monthly team outings, nap rooms, and breaks for their employees to enjoy and unwind. Google offers multiple game rooms to play ping pong, billards, foosball and other video games during breaks and downtime. Other companies go to the extreme and offer their employees opportunity to travel with a $6,000 stipend and an extra week off of work to travel abroad. Some traditionalists may think this is a bit extreme, however, LoadSpring Solutions states, “The way we look at it, [international travel] is the best way to experience new places, people, and perspectives. And if it helps us attract and keep top talent and adventurous thinkers, so be it.” As more companies reach to new levels of imagination, they are desiring those that can be creative and reach those imaginative levels with them.
Bottom line when it comes to benefits is to be creative. Challenging work force dynamics require employers to work hard to retain and attract top talent. Salary may be important as one of the selling points, however in order to keep employees happy and create a great environment to work within, the right benefits truly make a difference. In 2015 and beyond, more companies will be adopting creative ways to differentiate themselves against the competition, and to place themselves at the top of the job search leaderboard.