The Benefits Your Employees Really Want
Ryan Westwood | Forbes
Creating a healthy company culture is my passion. It began with the development of my first technology company, PC Care Support, and it has continued throughout my work with Simplus. As I study the online performance reviews of competing businesses, I have noticed something interesting: while companies offer incredible benefits like personal budgets for employee development training, free doughnuts, and gym passes, the reviews for some of these companies are poor.
Studies show that companies spend about $270 million per year on employee engagement strategies. “But approximately 63 percent of U.S. employees aren’t fully engaged in their work,” says Forbes writer William Craig. Here’s what I’ve found: If you want a great culture and true employee engagement, provide benefits that positively impact not just your employees but, more importantly, those whom they love. Employees go home to different roles–parent, caregiver to a loved one, a church or civic leader, spouse, bandmate, freelancer, artist, neighbor–and the people they are closest to impact their lives and perspectives about work in meaningful ways.
Here are three tips for creating a benefits package that is most meaningful to employees and their significant others.
Focus on health insurance.
If you want to attract–and keep–qualified employees, offer a robust health insurance package. Based on my ad hoc research of other companies’ reviews, this benefit had the largest impact on employee satisfaction. “Health benefits and retirement funds are consistently the top two employee valued benefits,” said the financial experts at unicornhro.com. And, why not? Employees value working for a stable company and seek security for their family’s well-being.
I know a man who has worked for the same grocery store chain for over fifteen years. Throughout his career, he considered job offers from other companies, but when his son was born with cerebral palsy, his employer’s generous health care package provided the care his infant son needed without financially devastating his family. This employee was engaged and loyal primarily because of the health benefits.
Make sure company parties reflect the work culture.
If your work culture promotes a team-building, “we are family” management process, it doesn’t make sense to offer a black tie formal holiday dinner for employees only. This strategy sends the message that family comes second, if at all. And the aftermath of this mixed message lingers long after the party is over.
“Integrity is key among the values external job candidates are shown to hold dear in a prospective employer,” says Forbes writer Meghan M. Biro. “That’s what happens when the mission statement is clear, authentic and transparent. Make sure your employees are part of the mission statement, so it aligns their engagement with the company goals — they are the embodiment of your employer brand.” For example, an owner of a local engineering firm wanted to reinforce a strong team-oriented work culture and company brand. Instead of offering a formal employee dinner at the country club, he illustrated his renewed commitment to this company value base by hosting a picnic and employee family day at a local amusement park. Our company culture at Simplus is family-oriented, so we would be sending mixed messages about our values to invite employees without their loved ones. In fact, in lieu of an expensive holiday party this year, we are giving each individual a Christmas gift card to spend with a loved one. Our party will focus on looking at pictures of how each employee spent the gift card.
Remember: gifts go a long way.
Whether it’s celebrating the birth of a new baby with a fresh bouquet and some time off, encouraging volunteer efforts in the community, or providing a study manual, lunch and some free time to study for a certification exam, gifts send a strong message that strengthens employee engagement. A simple gesture can go a long way.
Gifts also show appreciation to family members who make sacrifices when an employee has to work late or travel. This was expressed perfectly by a woman on a recent flight whose company sent her son a gift basket when she had to leave for a training seminar. “He was so excited to receive the gift basket, he didn’t even care that I was leaving for work,” she said. “My son just said, ‘See ya later.’” At Simplus, we welcome each new member of the company by paying for a free house cleaning. We have noticed how happy it has made the partners of our employees, and the money we have spent on this gift has given us ten times the benefit from making the partners of our employees happy.
When it comes to employee engagement, one size (and one plan) doesn’t fit every workplace. But by implementing thoughtful, meaningful, and practical benefits for your employees’ significant others, you can make valuable employee connections and create a positive work environment. They may just leave a raving review about your success online.
The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. Click here for Grainger's full legal disclaimer.