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The Importance of Employee Benefits and How to Prioritize Them

What is your organization’s talent brand? Many things speak for your company to potential and current employees – and one of the overlooked elements that speaks the loudest is your benefits. What do your employee benefits say about your organization? And how can you prioritize the ones that will speak positively for your company? Let’s dive in.

Why Employee Benefits Are Important 

The importance of employee benefits can’t be overstated – they ensure employees feel valued and cared for by your organization. Benefits can help them balance their work with their lives, boost their mental and physical wellness, and care for them when they need assistance. When benefits match employee needs and expectations, they can increase retention and even increase your job application rate by 22%.

But there are so many potential benefits out there these days, it can be challenging to determine which ones are most valuable to your employees and your company’s priorities.

How to Prioritize Employee Benefits

When surveyed, employees tell SHRM that the three most important non-insurance benefits offered are:

  1. Generous paid time off
  2. Flexible and remote working options
  3. Paid family leave

But the one-size-fits-all models of benefits that employers used to offer, with the same benefits package for every employee, doesn’t fit into the modern workplace. Different groups of employees have different priorities, whether they’re parents, caregivers for their own parents, boomers or millennials – they have different needs and preferences.

But it’s a safe bet that your employees will value those top three benefits strongly. In fact, as the talent environment gets even more competitive for employers, these benefits may come to be the baseline for candidates, not a way for employers to differentiate themselves. You may need to add more benefits, like mental health days or summer Fridays, to hire the best talent and retain your highest performers as well.

Prioritize Positive Benefits 

Of course, this is easier said than done – but it’s critical for your organization to find the benefits that will speak most positively about your company. For example, Starbucks began offering tuition reimbursement for both part-time and full-time employees in 2014. This choice garnered them a sizeable amount of positive press, and it also appeals to their core hiring demographic for their stores – young people without college degrees. The benefits they reap from that carefully aligned program have increased their retention rate and strengthened their employer brand.

But simply offering the same benefits as another company because it seems like a good idea isn’t going to get your unique organization the impact you want. It takes careful consideration, and plenty of employee feedback, to land on the right balance of benefits for your company.

Ask Employees What They Value

The best way to determine which benefits you should offer is by asking employees directly. You can use surveys, focus groups, or a combination of the two to measure what they value and prioritize your benefits package accordingly.

And asking employees can also help you narrow down precisely how to structure your benefits offering so it provides the most value as well. For example, if you’re considering offering more remote work options, you may also want to consider covering reimbursements for work-from-home expenses like internet costs and an ergonomic desk set-up.

These additions will enhance how employees feel about the benefit of working remotely, and your benefits offering as a whole will be more enticing for prospective and current employees. Thinking holistically can help you develop a benefits package that speaks positively about your focus on employee needs.

Communicate Proactively

Even the most generous and innovative benefits offering won’t make employees satisfied if they aren’t aware of what they may be eligible for. Communicating regularly, clearly, and proactively to employees about all elements of your benefits package will ensure that they know what they can use and how your company supports them. And that will make for happier, healthier employees.


This post was originally published on the Cangrade blog.

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