The last few years have been tumultuous for workplaces. Employees have been quitting jobs in record numbers in the Great Resignation, leaving many companies in difficult positions. If you own or run a business, especially a small business, you might be feeling the heat. But what employee retention strategies really work?
What is the importance of benefits on employee retention?
Workers aren’t quitting their jobs to do nothing. They’re finding new, more desirable positions. It isn’t just about compensation. Many employees, especially younger ones, have seen recent boosts in wages, but without quality benefits, more money isn’t enough to keep them satisfied. One of the best ways to keep your employees is to understand how benefits affect employee retention and to boost your package accordingly.
What benefits do employees care about most?
You’ll likely find that you can make a huge difference by focusing on the benefits employees care about most. Luckily, most job seekers aren’t shy about their wish lists, so it’s important to listen and learn from your existing employees.
Ask current employees about their benefits wish list
Every workplace is different, so the first step in understanding how you can offer better benefits is to ask your employees what they want. Call for a group brainstorming session and make sure everyone feels comfortable speaking their mind.
Alternatively, send out an anonymous survey so you know you’re getting unfiltered feedback. Some requests might be ridiculous, but this will create a great starting point. You might be surprised by what they request.
Ask job candidates about their benefits wish list
Nobody knows what other, similar companies are offering prospective employees better than the people who have been sifting through job listings and going to interviews in the recent past.
This isn’t to say you should quiz interviewees about competition, but asking how they feel about your benefits package and how they’d compare it to other companies’ positions is a great way to gain important insights into the job market. It also establishes that your company is one who cares what employees think.
Offer your employees flexible work schedules
Depending on your business model, flexible work schedules can cost nothing. They may even save your company money while making your employees happier.
Can your company work remotely?
Some business models are more friendly toward remote work than others, but if the vast majority of daily work is done by computers in your workplace, you may not need a physical workplace at all.
Remote work has become increasingly popular over the past few years as many companies transitioned for Covid-related reasons and found themselves just as productive. Employees have come to love the model, with 97% of responses in a recent Forbes survey indicating that people didn’t want to return to an office full-time.
Offering remote work, or even hybrid work, is a great benefit that can make employees happy while saving you money on office costs. It also expands your hiring pool.
Can you offer flex scheduling?
At your business, does it matter when work gets done, or just that it gets done? Flex scheduling allows employees to work on their own time instead of sticking to the rigid structure of typical 8am-5pm schedules. So long as your employees put in the required weekly hours, it doesn’t matter if they happen on Monday morning or the middle of the night on Saturday.
Flex schedules are more compatible with remote work than in-office work, but if you leave your office available 24/7, you can make them work with physical locations too.
The main downside of flex schedules is that they make it difficult to conduct meetings or collaborate in real time, so they might not be ideal for every business. However, even if you need days where all employees are on the clock at the same time, you can potentially offer partial flex scheduling benefits.
Retirement plans have long been a staple of benefits packages, but many companies are finding now that simply offering any plan isn’t enough. Competitive retirement plans, especially 401 (k)s, offer generous employer matching and immediate eligibility.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 41% of employers match some percentage of employee contributions to their 401 (k)s. The average match is 3.5%, but many go as high as 6%. If you want to keep your employees for the long haul, consider how much you can feasibly match.
Can you offer more paid time off?
Some American companies don’t offer paid time off at all, while others roll together vacation time with sick-leave and emergency PTO. Others still max out at 10-15 days total PTO per year, and workers aren’t a fan.
In a recent survey, 20% of respondents reported that they would choose an extra five days of vacation time per year over a 10% pay raise. Many of those who responded that they’d choose the raise reported that they’d had a vacation request denied in the past year, so pressure from employers to not take time off likely plays a major role in choosing the raise.
Taking time off is good for your employee’s mental health, productivity, and workplace morale. In short, it’s good for the company as a whole. While you obviously need your employees to get things done, offering them more time off is a surefire way to keep them happy and willing to stay at your company. It can be expensive, but not as expensive as replacing an employee who left for a company with more time off.
Most employees don’t see themselves working their exact same position forever. Many look at their current jobs as stepping stones to the next phase of their career, regardless of whether or not the next step is at their same company. You can support your employees with educational assistance.
Whether a more advanced education makes your workers more skilled in their current role, better equipped for a future role at your company, or happier in the short term before they move on, educational benefits make employees more likely to stay. The popular fast food chain Chipotle reported a three-and-a-half times higher retention rate for those enrolled in their educational assistance program.
Give your health benefits a makeover
Health care is extremely expensive in America, and most people rely on their workplaces to provide quality, affordable insurance options and perks. If you want to be competitive in the job space, quality health care benefits are not optional. They’re arguably the number one most important type of benefit.
A 2021 survey by Gallup and West Health revealed that one in every six workers in the U.S. remain at jobs they don’t like because they’re afraid of losing their health insurance benefits. These workers are waiting for an opportunity to come along to jump ship for a better opportunity.
An EBMS study revealed what workers want from health insurance benefits. 73% reported wanting a customizable health benefit package suited to their specific needs rather than an overall option offered to everyone. They also reported wanting guidance, transparency, innovation, and to interact with health care through their preferred channel.
Mental health benefits
For too long, mental health support has been ignored and omitted from overall healthcare benefits. Employees have noticed. Mercer’s Health on Demand report from 2021 found that 42% of workers who have mental health benefits are more likely to stay in their current positions than if they didn’t. Mentally healthy employees are happier, more productive, and less likely to leave.
Choosing the right mental health benefits is challenging, but one of the best options is a partnership with an organization that provides mental health support. LEAPcare offers your employees 24/7 access to our team of chaplains, who are ready to give them the individualized care they deserve. Not only will they feel cared for, they’ll be more likely to stick around. Learn more about our services here.