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How to Enhance Your Benefits Programs

22 August
by Careerminds
3 minute read

Earlier this week we did a post on the readiness of, and cost to companies based off of new healthcare reforms. Benefits are on the minds of employers and employees more than ever before. With the majority of companies changing their benefits packages to make room for the rising costs of healthcare, many employees are left wanting.

Benefits have quickly become a very important part of employee satisfaction. According to a Drake International slideshare, employees who are very satisfied with their benefits are nearly 3X as likely to say that they are very satisfied with their job and therefore, less likely plan to leave. We see here a huge correlation between satisfaction with benefits and retention. We all know that high retention rates are associated with high morale, boosted productivity and an improved bottom line. The problem is that given the new healthcare reforms, there is little room to work on improving benefits packages. Here are some cost effective methods to enhancing benefits programs.

Voluntary Benefits

These are the benefits that employees sign up for voluntarily. Employees are able to choose benefits that matter to them at rates through their company that are lower than they could obtain individually. Employees are able to handpick what they wish to include in their benefits package. This can make for a more robust and satisfying product. Usually these voluntary benefits will come directly out of the employees paycheck.

82% of employees with voluntary benefits report being satisfied, vs 52% without voluntary benefits. Employees enjoy voluntary benefits because they are in charge of where their money is going. They get to choose what is most important to them and they can get it at a reduced rate. Employers like voluntary benefits because they are able to offer a larger range of benefits at no extra cost to them. Voluntary benefits can include life, disability, dental, vision, supplemental health and cancer insurance.

Offer Outplacement

Outplacement gives employees a safety net after their departure from the company through services like career evaluations, resume writing and interview preparation, professional network building and career guidance sessions. These former employees are offered services aimed at making this experience easier on everyone. It is important that employees know that they are valued outside of their role in the company.

Solicit Feedback

You will never know what your employees need if you don't ask. Don't send Dwight Schrute out into the office to ask everyone about their past ailments, just send out an email requesting annonymous feedback on current plans and options. Find out what is missing and what can be improved upon. From this feedback, you can then compile a list of priorities. Find out if you have a large group of emoployees with specific needs. Is a large portion of your office nearing the age of retirement? Do several of your employees have small children?

Use the Feedback

Identifying segments within the company enable benefits decision makers to make more balanced decisions. When the bottom line isn't the only factor involved, better packages can be constructed. Once you have the information gathered, use it to create benefits packages that employees actually benefit from. Each carrier will have different areas of expertise. Gain insights from potential carriers on companies that they have worked with of a similar size with similar needs. Bringing specific needs to the table in negotiations sets the bar and establishes a stance.

Negotiate

Now that you have presented the needs of the company to a provider, the negotiations begin. This is wher a lot of companies fail their employees. They don't realize that the volley has just begun. Decision makers don't have to take the first proposal that comes their way, in fact, they shouldn't. Hold out for the right match, and specific features.

On a side note, Employers need to see the return on investment to motivate the enhancement of benefits. This can mean polls and feedback from employees on their satisfaction rates of benefits. This can then be compared to retention rates and eventually lead to proven savings.

You will never be able to accommodate every employee's needs. The point here is to get as close as you can. As healthcare compliances change, and employers are forced to tighen their belts in all other areas to make up for it, benefit packages have entered the spot light. Going with the most popular, cheapest package won't cut it. An informed, thoghtful choice will go a long way in showing employees that they are valued, and their opinions matter.

photo credit: Qfamily via photopin cc

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