Benefits are one piece of the employer brand puzzle that cannot be overlooked. In the face of rising health insurance costs, shrinking pension plans, unlimited paid time off and more generous family leave policies, employers have to carefully evaluate how their benefits program impacts their ability to attract and retain talent.
In a candidate-driven market, benefits can sway candidates’ decisions to accept employment offers.
Benefits are also vital to retaining employees long-term. Nearly 80% of workers would prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase.2
Benefits are particularly appealing to younger workers. 90% of those 18 to 34 years old say they would prefer benefits overpay, versus 70% of the those 45 to 54 and 66% of those 55 to 64.2
Section 1: How Benefits Influence Your Employer Brand
Today, before applying for open positions, job candidates do more research than ever before. Part of that effort includes pouring over online company reviews left by employees, who like sharing first-hand opinions about their workplace experiences, including how they feel about benefits.
Top 5 pieces of information job seekers want employers to provide as they research where to work:
- Details on compensation packages
- Details on benefits packages
- Basic company information
- Details on what makes the company an attractive place to work
- Company mission, vision and values
When benefits programs change, the news is likely to ripple through social commentary on sites like Glassdoor, which can affect and shape perceptions of your company and employer brand. That means companies should carefully consider the consequences of benefit reductions and have a structured approach to rolling out changes.
Section 2: Which Benefits Matter Most
Each benefit or perk sends a particular message about your company’s culture and employment brand. Because every change in benefits requires a significant resource investment in evaluation and rollout, it’s wise to carefully consider which changes will have the most impact.
Focus on the Basics
A Glassdoor Economic Research study revealed which of the 54 benefits have the highest correlation with employee satisfaction.
Top 5 Benefits by Correlation of Overall Satisfaction with Benefit Packages5
The core benefits of health insurance paid leave and retirement plans to matter more than specific benefits like maternity/paternity leave, dependent care, stock options, and free food. Getting the basics (health insurance, paid leave and retirement assistance) right will do more for employee satisfaction than adding ancillary benefits and fun perks. Any cuts to the three basic areas should be carefully considered for their potential impact.
Keep Up With — or Ahead of — Your Industry
Is Your Benefits Program on Par With Your Industry?
Knowing how you stack up against other companies can help you stand out, especially if you offer better benefits than talent competitors. It’s also an important discussion point when interviewing candidates from other industries.
Ranking on a 1-5 scale of Benefits Criteria by Industry1
When evaluating your benefits package, research competitor benefits packages as well as their benefit reviews on Glassdoor. Note reviewer sentiment and how benefits changes are perceived. Use the competitive information to make the case for or against benefits changes to your senior leadership.
Examine Your Benefits Package
As you look to change benefits programs, remember that health insurance, paid time off and retirement plans are of the utmost importance to employees and candidates. Employees will be the most vocal about cuts to these programs.
Be the Voice of Your Company’s Employees
Present the results of your research and recommendations to senior management. Arming executives with this intelligence allows them to make decisions on behalf of the well-being of the company and its employees.
How to Plan Your Benefits
A little planning will go a long way in maintaining the integrity of your employer brand when making benefits reductions or enhancements.
Though changes to health insurance, paid time off and retirement programs have the most impact, additions like extended maternity/paternity leave policies, free food, tuition reimbursement, childcare assistance, and transportation subsidies can foster goodwill. Your full package of benefits strengthens your employer brand even among the employees who don’t take advantage of them.
Tips for planning a successful benefits rollout:
- Be transparent in your company’s rationale behind the change. Let employees know what’s driving the decision and how it will benefit your organization as a whole or its bottom line.
- Test messaging by looking at Glassdoor to see how similar changes were previously received.
- Leverage expertise by asking mid-level managers for confidential pre-launch feedback and involving them in the rollout.
- Provide clear messaging by creating manager and employee toolkits for the rollout. Provide manager training if necessary.
- Capture feedback by providing an open forum for employees to discuss concerns and ask questions. Use tools like Waggl, Slack or a company intranet/Wiki page.
Remember, research shows that the core benefits of health insurance, paid time off and retirement plans are essential components of your employer brand and candidate appeal! They help you attract, hire and retain great talent in a competitive hiring market. As you consider modifying or upgrading your benefits package, carefully consider the potential impact of your actions. In an age of organizational transparency and always-on social media, any changes to your benefits will naturally affect both candidate and employee sentiment about your company.
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1. Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Historical Listing March 2004 – December 2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016; 2. Harris Poll for Glassdoor, December 2015; 3. Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey, October 2015; 4. Glassdoor U.S. Site Survey, January 2016; 5. The Best Industries for Benefits, Glassdoor Economic Research, May 2016