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4 Tips for Implementing a Thoughtful Benefits Strategy — and Getting a Strong ROI

4 Tips for Implementing a Thoughtful Benefits Strategy — and Getting a Strong ROI

Attracting and retaining employees is often the paramount concern for many businesses, and one popular strategy is offering a more robust benefits package. While identifying the right balance of options may take trial and error, there are a few ways for HR to address the benefits question more immediately.

The first step is to understand which benefits employees actually want and use, according to Erika Duncan, a human capital consultant at UHY. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, and even exit interview among employees, or through the analysis of benchmarking data on salaries and benefits others companies in the industry offer.

For healthcare benefits, the data is more robust, Duncan said, as employers can analyze claims and reimbursement records to see exactly how offerings are being used and at what cost. “Using a combination of those methods is the best way to get a comprehensive understanding of both how your employees are engaging with the benefits, as well as how they’re perceived,” she said.

Another consideration is the flexibility of the benefits. Hybrid work and flexible time off may not be traditional benefits, but Duncan says they are something employees are looking for and can be "paramount to a retention and recruitment strategy." Professional development, such as certifications, is another attractive feature. "That’s something that’s a differentiator," Duncan said. "If you’re engaged in a program or a degree or a certification, you’re probably not going to leave a company that’s paid for it."

While not every employee is going to utilize all the benefits, Duncan said they often provide value in the diversity, belonging and inclusion space. "Most companies from a cultural sense are trying to be sensitive to meeting employees where they’re at," she said. This is where a diverse benefit offering holds a distinct advantage, as different employee subsets will find a combination that works for them.

The successful usage of a benefit can then come down to access, Duncan advised, because "[a] lot of people don’t think through how to make it accessible for all employees." In example, a company with three shifts that only offers a program from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays could make it inaccessible to employees on alternate schedules.

"There’s a lot of room for creativity, not just in the benefits offered, but in the way in which we look at how to communicate and educate people about them," she said. "The biggest thing is to make sure the education is there for what’s offered." Being transparent on the benefits offered so all employees can take advantage can be crucial in supporting recruitment and retention efforts, Duncan said.

As for gauging the return on investment for new benefits, Duncan said it can be a challenge, but the key is to focus on one metric at a time. "You ideally need to be laser focused on what you want to measure and then look for a way to do it, which is different from saying I’m going to measure all my benefits at one time," she said. "It needs to be a bit more methodical."

Examples include introducing a wellness program and looking to see if the use of the employee assistance program decreases, or offering a new parental leave policy and analyzing any changes in absenteeism and retention rates. It could also be a more targeted effort, where the benefits are meant to attract or retain a specific category of employees. "The cost of retention and recruitment is typically the offset," Duncan said.


Read the full interview published by HR Dive.

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