Invest in the future: Bring back benefits now

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in Career Management,Employee Benefits Program

As the economy strengthens, many productive employees who feel overworked and undercompensated will seek jobs elsewhere. Think your loyal workforce won’t bolt? Think again.

Chances are, some of your most valuable employees are already exploring their options. According to a recent survey by job-placement firm Manpower, an overwhelming 84% of employees plan to search for a new job this year.

Don’t give your stars an excuse to jump ship. Keep them satisfied by implementing new benefits and reinstating those that you cut during the recession.

Bonus: The same benefits that help retain current workers will also make it easier to attract new employees.

Helping employees now, later

When Accountemps polled employers with 20 or more workers, it found that many are focusing on perks that help career development, rebuilding retirement savings and improving work/life balance.

For example, 29% of organizations plan to invest more in training and education. Sabbaticals, which allow long-term employees to take extended paid leave to build skills, are also on the upswing.

Organizations of all sizes are reinstating 401(k) matches. As of December 2010, 27% of Fidelity Investment’s business clients with fewer than 100 employees had reinstated 401(k) matches. The rate was 15% just a year ago.

Studies by Vanguard and the nonprofit Profit Sharing/401k Council of America also found that large and small companies are reinstating matches.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of employers will offer telecommuting or flexible hours, according to the Accountemps survey. Other perks include public transportation passes, which are tax deductible.

Some employers also say they’re planning to provide subsidized or free lunches, parking and gym memberships.

Wellness incentives rise

A survey by Fidelity and the National Business Group on Health found that perks for participating in wellness programs are increasing. In 2010, organizations spent an average of $430 per employee to encourage them to take steps to improve their health. That’s $170 more than in 2009.

Incentives take the form of gift cards, cash and Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions. Gift certificates for the theater, massages, dinners and other leisure activities are also making a comeback.

The gift of time

Various types of time-off rewards are also popular. Example: Some companies allow employees to choose a day of the week in which they arrive at work an hour late or leave an hour early for a few weeks or a month. Other options include additional days off.

Advice: Use surveys to ask employees which perks they desire most.

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