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Assess needs of employees, business before offering perks

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in Firing,Hiring,Human Resources

Work/life benefits, from telework to concierges, can help take the edge off employee stress during a time when people fear their jobs aren’t secure and managers are pressing workers to produce more with less.

Still, it’s especially important during an economic downturn for organizations to limit benefits to those that will help them meet their bottom-line goals, including retention and productivity.

If your organization is starting or adding to a work/life benefits package, assess its potential value to both the employees and the company. Here are five ways to assess the need for each work/life benefit:

1. Form a work/life task force.
Invite a cross section of employees from HR, IT, finance, legal and other departments to offer diverse perspectives and lend expertise to the discussion. Recruit task force members of various races, ages, genders and income levels. Include parents and nonparents.

The task force can determine how work/life fits with the organization’s culture, goals and business needs, and weigh the pros and cons of various perks. It also will involve employees in decisions that affect them.

2. Consider hiring a consultant. Using an outsider who has conducted needs assessments elsewhere can be less expensive and time-consuming than creating an assessment from scratch. A consultant can work with the task force to match work/life benefits to employee and business needs.

3. Collect data about your workforce.
How many male and female employees do you have? How old are they? Are they parents? Which existing benefits do they use and value most? Which do they want the organization to add? Conduct employee surveys, employee focus groups and exit interviews with departing workers.

4. Find out what the competition offers.
Read media articles about your competitors’ work/life benefits, especially those on local and national “best companies” lists. Consider conducting surveys of competitors to ask them about their work/life offerings—with the promise to share your findings.

5. Develop a budget and a rollout plan.
You might temporarily offer a benefit to a single department to test how employees respond and whether its use affects productivity. Before rolling it out to the entire staff, set a budget for the benefit, write a formal policy for it and decide how to communicate it to employees.

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