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Attract and keep great employees with these 5 ‘Best practices’ benefits

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As the HR profession celebrates National Work and Family Month—you knew October was National Work and Family Month, didn’t you?—it’s time to stock up on innovative benefits ideas from U.S. employers. From wellness incentives to “future leave,” these best practices help attract and retain great workers.

‘No walls’ management boosts referrals

At Ohio-based The Right Thing Inc., about 70% of new hires come from employee referrals. One key reason is the 350-employee company’s laid-back atmosphere with no formal managers or departments. And turnover has fallen dramatically since 2003, when the company began an employee profit-sharing plan that involves half the company’s profits.

Paying cash for wellness participation

Pepsi offered a $75 prepaid debit MasterCard to any employee who participated in a health assessment. It worked: 70% of the 33,500 employees participated. For employees who needed follow-up help, Pepsi offered $100 to workers who attended classes on smoking cessation, diabetes management, high-risk maternity or depression. For every $1 the company invests, it sees a $1.50 to $2 return.

'Lights out' means lunchtime at Seattle firm

At 11:30 am every day at NRG, a 14-employee Seattle insurance firm, the lights go off and all employees must stop working and break for lunch. The program began eight years ago after employees complained about covering phones during others’ lunch breaks. The owner sees the move as an overall cost-saver.

3-month ‘Future Leave’ helps retention

Employees with at least three years’ tenure at consulting firm Accenture can take up to three months off for any reason. Such “Future Leave” is unpaid, but benefits continue. Employees can take the leave once every three years.

Education, financing aid first-time homebuyers

Georgia-based insurer Aflac works with community group NeighborWorks to help teach employees how to save for and purchase a home. The company also gives seed money to employees who want to become first-time homebuyers. Aflac promotes the program in lunch-and-learn sessions. NeighborWorks takes it from there. Most employees who participate are single parents. 

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