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Stay competitive by aligning benefits with staff expectations

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in FMLA Guidelines,Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

by Steven Williams

An organization’s HR professionals and its employees don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to benefits. The Society for Human Resource Management’s “2007 Job Satisfaction Survey Report” revealed some good examples:

  • 70% of HR pros consider an employee’s relationship with his or her supervisor to be the most important contributing factor in ensuring job satisfaction, while fewer than half of employees consider it even “very important.”
  • HR pros rank work/life balance ninth out of 10 on a list of benefits they consider “very important” to employee job satisfaction. Employees rank it fourth, behind benefits, pay and job security.

The benefits that will make your organization competitive when hiring and retaining employees are the ones that jibe with the perceptions of your employees. Here are eight issues to consider, along with recommendations:

1. Generational differences will probably cause shifts in how employees value their benefits. Recommendation: Tailor benefits to suit the age and demographic groups that make up your work force.

2. Health care expenditures for U.S. companies amounted to an estimated $8,400 per employee last year. Those costs continue to rise. Recommendation: Explore creative methods to reduce your health care costs. Consider the consequences of simply passing on the costs to employees—including the possibility that they will choose not to seek care.

3. Merely offering paid leave won’t differentiate your organization from its competitors. Most organizations offer some form of paid leave: 97% have paid holidays; 84% pay for vacations. Recommendation: Stay on top of how much leave your competitors offer. The amount of leave is a huge draw for young employees who value time off from work more than most other benefits.

4. Work/life benefits have been proven to reduce absenteeism and increase retention, and will become even more important as the number of employees with both elder care and child care responsibilities grows. Recommendation: When you evaluate whether to add a work/life benefit, also consider the impact of not having it.

5. Economic realities have made it nearly impossible for organizations to offer higher salaries and better health care or retirement benefits. Recommendation: Take advantage of low- or no-cost perks to keep employees happy and loyal. Examples: holiday parties, milestone rewards, company picnics and noncash performance awards.

6. A labor shortage looms as baby boomers start retiring in 2010. Recommendation: Consider ramping up relocation benefits so that geographic constraints don’t present hiring challenges if a labor shortage occurs.

7. Corporate scandals and abuses have drawn increased scrutiny of financial practices and business travel. Recommendation: Determine how employees, company stakeholders and the public will perceive executive “perks.”

8. The true value of the benefits they receive is often lost on employees. Recommendation: Calculate the total compensation package for each employee and use metrics to benchmark the numbers against other companies. Use the data to show employees how their benefits and salaries stack up against the competition.

Steven Williams is the director of research for the Society for Human Resource Management. Contact: (800) 283-SHRM.

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