With Thanksgiving and winter holiday breaks ahead, we’re in the final stretch of doing business in 2022. And when bonuses start getting paid out in the new year, there’s one thing that’s certain, according to Ami Shah: Your employees will be looking elsewhere.
Philly-based Shah is the VP of national accounts at Corporate Synergies, which consults with companies about their employee benefits. She’s the go-to for many companies to learn what types of benefits can best serve their teams, especially if they want to put special effort into recruitment or retention.
A lot has changed since the pre-COVID world, Shah said.
“Leaders were a little more restrictive in their offerings,” she told Technical.ly. “It was more the employers’ game, meaning there were more people to tap into for recruitment and retention than there were job opportunities.”
But with the national unemployment rate hovering around 3.5%, and job hopping becoming more of the norm amid the The Great Resignation, companies are no longer in control. Meanwhile, it’s not only incredibly expensive to replace workers — with a tighter job market, employers will likely go longer between filling roles, Shah said.
Which specific employment benefits are most worth offering?
One of her biggest tips to employers is to be willing to spend a little more to save a lot in the long run. Upping 401K contributions in 2023 could retain employees who are considering leaving, for instance.
“Maybe you spent $100,000 on employee contributions, but it’s key to be an employer of choice,” Shah said. “Ask yourself, how much would I spend delaying this product launch or putting off meetings with clients because I’ve lost these workers?”
The pandemic also clarified values a lot for workers, Shah said. While workers do cite pay among their top qualities in perspective companies, they also cite flexibility, a diverse workforce and “healthy work-life balance.”
Shah made a few suggestions for creative or untraditional “quality of life” benefits that employers can offer that make a big impact. Mental health packages in healthcare benefits are asked about constantly, she said, and not all providers offer in-network care. Shah tells her clients it’s a great thing when mental health benefits are being “over”-used because its means folks are getting the help they need.
Childcare benefits — whether in the form of paid subsidies, or partnerships with platforms that help parents arrange childcare — is another one. With hybrid schedules becoming more common, there will be times where a COVID-19 scare shuts down a daycare and a parent still needs to put a full day in the office.
On the other side of caregiving is senior support services. Benefits that include help with dealing with an injured aging parent or at-home nursing care will win big with intergenerational households and families, Shah said.
How to retain younger workers
For those looking to attract younger millennials and Gen Z, Shah suggests setting up automatic employee contributions to a 401k or other retirement fund. Because so many young people enter the labor force with college debt, they can’t often start investing or saving for retirement in their first years on the job. Contributing to a fund for them is a big draw when they might be in the early stages of their financial life.
These young workers also are looking for companies that both serve them and the world, Shah said. They’re interested in how the company presents opportunities for their career advancement and how they’re civically and socially engaging in the world.
It was a concept new to Shah and her Gen X coworkers — “but that’s the value of all the generations working together,” she said.
Benefits policies should benefit the employees
And lastly, Shah said, the benefits you seek out should be the ones your employees say are valuable to them. If you spend time putting out company surveys and learning where your employees values are, whether that’s career advancement, professional development, strong healthcare or childcare benefits, invest in those things.
“One-hundred percent, always do engagement surveys to understand your employees,” Shah said. “You should not making decisions in a vacuum.”-30-