Which Benefits Do Employees Value the Most?
The need to remain competitive spurred one-third of organizations to boost their benefit offerings throughout most of 2016, according to the 2017 Employee Benefits Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. The impetus for this competitive streak can be attributed to the talent shortage many employers face today.
Per ManpowerGroup's 2016-2017 Talent Shortage Survey, employers globally are seeing the highest talent shortage since 2007, with 40 percent finding it tough to fill positions. This puts qualified job seekers in a strong bargaining position, and to attract and keep them, employers must go the extra mile. But as the demand for benefits rises, so does the variation of benefits offered. However, not all benefits carry the same weight.
Although employees' individual needs may differ, industry surveys frequently rank health care benefits, retirement plans, work-life benefits and paid leave as among the most desirable benefits.
Health, Dental and Vision Insurance
According to a 2017 study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, health, dental and vision insurance play an important role in employees' decisions to change jobs. Apparently, employers are taking note. The EBRI study found that, during the survey period, 67 percent of employers provided health insurance, 59 percent offered dental insurance and 49 percent extended vision insurance.
Interestingly, the SHRM survey noted that 34 percent of employers offered health coverage to their part-time employees in 2017, increasing from 27 percent in 2014.
Employees consider not just health care benefits but also their retirement plan options when making job change decisions. To bolster retention, 57 percent of organizations offered retirement benefits in 2017, according to the EBRI study.
The SHRM survey concluded that 90 percent of organizations offered a traditional 401(k) or similar plan, while 55 percent provided a Roth 401(k) or similar plan. Also, some employers are offering lifetime income retirement solutions to alleviate retiring employees' fears that they will run out of money during retirement.
Employees today want more flexibility and control over where and when they work. Per Gallup's State of the American Workplace 2017 report, 53 percent of employees said that a role enabling greater work-life balance is very important to them, while 51 percent said they would switch jobs if the new employer offered more flextime.
Employers are increasingly using telecommuting as a way of helping employees achieve more work-life balance. The SHRM survey found that three out of five companies allow telecommuting in some form, and 57 percent grant flextime — which gives employees the option to select their work hours based on restrictions developed by the employer.
For many employees, paid leave and job satisfaction go hand in hand, as taking vacation has been shown to improve morale, wellness, productivity and retention. Further, providing sick leave helps keep employees at home when they are ill, thereby lowering contagion in the workplace. As explained in the SHRM study, the value of paid leave is evidenced by the vast number of organizations that provide vacation (96 percent) and sick leave (81 percent).
Now is the time to take a good look at your benefit offerings, to keep your employees happy.