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Stretch your budget with 5 benefits-on-a-shoestring tactics

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Even during a recession, it’s possible to beef up your benefits. Instead of spending money on new perks, spend some time thinking creatively about the perks you already offer—and present them to employees in a new light.

Employees are likely to perceive that you’re adding benefits if you make existing ones more valuable. Here are some ways to get started:

1. ID the benefits employees value

You might find that most of your workers are at stages in their lives when they need different benefits than they did a few years ago when your organization was better able to offer more options. You’ll certainly find out today’s twentysomethings aren’t looking for the same benefits that the baby boomers wanted when they were in their 20s.

Once you know what employees want, you’ll know what they don’t want. Cut undervalued, underused perks so you can spend on more relevant benefits.

Gather this information by monitoring how many people use each benefit.

An equally good way to determine what employees value: Ask them. Conduct a poll—even an informal one. Surveys show a substantial disconnect between which benefits companies think are most important and which ones employees value most.

Every organization is different, and not every benefits program is a good fit. But with our customizable report — Benefits on a Shoestring: 37 Ways to Win and Keep Great Employees — you can tailor your program to your employees’ needs and desires. They’ll feel taken care of, and their work will only get better. Get your copy today...
2. Repackage existing benefits
Maybe the elder-caregivers among your employees think the employee assistance program is only for colleagues with alcoholism or depression.

Let them know it’s also available to stressed-out caregivers. It can even help them find resources for their aging parents. Likewise, advertise the backup care program for both child care and elder care.

3. Show them the money
Chances are, your employees don’t know how much your organization spends per person for their health care and vacation benefits. They might not even realize that their free parking isn’t necessarily free to the organization.

Adopt a “total rewards” model that lumps in everything from traditional employee benefits such as the 401(k) to work/life benefits and the discounts an employee gets because the company arranges for voluntary benefits. Don’t forget to include the value of small things, such as free coffee.

Then show employees how much those benefits are worth, in dollars and cents. Even if you can’t add any benefits now because of financial restraints, you can still help employees understand that their benefits have great value. Just show them the numbers.
Benefits on a Shoestring highlights 37 benefits programs that have already been implemented around the U.S. From flexible work hours and telecommuting options ... sabbaticals to company vacations ... wellness rewards to weight-loss incentives (which will also help you cut your health-care costs) and more, Benefits on a Shoestring is your guide to creating a benefits package specifically suited to your company. Get your copy here...
4. Communicate your benefits
Employees often pay attention to your benefits messages only when they need that benefit. That’s why it’s so important to continually communicate about benefits, even the ones you have offered for a long time.

To an employee who has never used your 10-year-old backup child care program, that benefit is a new one if she needs it this week for the first time. The same goes for the fortysomething employee whose out-of-state mother had a stroke and needs help relocating. That employee is going to need help from your resource and referral program today that she didn’t need yesterday.

During a time when you can’t afford to add many—if any—new benefits, you can make old ones seem like new ones for a lot of people if you continually reinforce your message (even if it seems like that message is falling on deaf ears). Employees will hear it when they need to.

5. Add voluntary benefits

During a recession, employees tend to be extremely appreciative of benefits, even if they have to pay for them. They especially appreciate having a wide array of benefits to choose from.

Although they have to pay their own premiums, employees appreciate voluntary benefits because they cost less than if they purchased the coverage as individuals. In fact, studies show that employers seriously underestimate the appeal of voluntary benefits.

The most popular voluntary benefits are life insurance and coverage for short- and long-term disability, long-term care, prepaid legal services, and supplemental medical, dental and vision care.

Up-and-coming voluntary benefits include pet insurance, identity-theft insurance and consulting services to help parents and their college-bound children through the admissions and financial aid process.

The costs to the employer for offering voluntary benefits are minimal—often as low as $500 a year—but the return on investment is high.
These are just a handful of the 37 low-cost (and no-cost) ideas that await you in Benefits on a Shoestring...
  • Paid-volunteer program unearths employees' passions
  • Firm offers flex-office options: work at home or in any city
  • Wellness rewards and ‘Biggest Loser’ contest help trim costs
  • ‘Balanced hours’ program helps recruit, retain lawyers
  • Solving day care dilemmas with ‘Nanny Share’ database
  • Workers’ mental well-being tops N.C. firm’s work/life list
  • Homemade ‘coupons’ help small firm offer flexibility
  • On-site nurse saves employees’ time and expense
  • 8-week sabbaticals help workers return fresh and stay longer
  • Employees empowered to vote on their benefits lineup

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