Think Outside the Benefits Box to Enhance Employee Experiences

  • Employee Engagement
  • Employee Wellbeing
Ali Payne

A recent survey of Midwest employers on current recruitment and retention strategies reported that while companies still consider competitive pay and traditional benefits as important components of an employment package, they are also increasingly adding less conventional benefits to further differentiate themselves from the hiring competition.

The survey indicated that in addition to going beyond classic benefits, such as adding referral bonuses, Volunteer Time Off, and carrying over Paid Time Off accruals, employers are also considering how they can provide more personal and professional resources to support employee wellbeing both inside and outside of the workplace.

Learning of these survey results left our ethOs team breathing a collective sigh of relief. This has been the fundamental focus of our work with clients for years as we help them plan for the exceptional employee experiences that support and contribute to their overall health and happiness.

Wellbeing is More Than a Paycheck

The survey results from employers reflect what employees and job seekers are increasingly asking for — additional company-sponsored resources that they actually need, want, and value.

Employers want to add benefits that make them different and attractive to the workforce, and they’re realizing that relying on competitive pay alone isn’t enough anymore. Employees want fair compensation; however, they now also want to feel that their overall wellbeing is important to their employer as well.

This shift reflects an ever-evolving interest in creating balance among work and life. Some job seekers are even willing to take a pay cut if it means having more flexibility in their work schedule or a remote work option. The pandemic seemed to awaken a desire in employees to desegregate work from general life so that there can be more fluidity between both.

Determine What Employees Really Want

So, what should employers be considering as they take a closer look at their employee benefits?

We see companies continually throwing additional benefits at employees without asking what they value. Instead of jumping into immediately investing in new benefits, take time to understand what your employees really want and value.

This is where the ethOs team has really helped our clients understand that one size does not fit all when it comes to employee support. Your pool of employees is typically composed of several different generations, and every generation is generally dealing with different life experiences based on age, family dynamics, and professional development needs. What a 25-year-old is looking to experience in a work environment can be drastically different than that of a 50-year-old. The key is to learn about who your employees are, what kind of experiences and support they seek, and then determine how to help everyone to feel seen, heard, and supported both in and out of the office.

Gauge Awareness Before Adding Benefits

Consider this: Most companies have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that offer mental health services, but we often find that employees don’t even know about it. Mental health benefits rank high on the list of resources employees want, yet many don’t know they have an EAP readily available that provides just that!

The employers surveyed indicated they are looking to add more unique benefit solutions, including grief counseling and bereavement leave. These are also high on the list of what job seekers like to see. Even if they hope they’ll never have to use them, it’s reassuring to know they’re available. However, a lot of companies already have these benefits in place — it’s just that few people know about them. Throwing in more benefits on top of what’s already available without analyzing what employees are aware of and interested in is a waste of your company’s time, talent, and money.

One of the first exercises our team coordinates with clients is identifying and outlining all benefits and resources the organization already invests in. Then we learn what employees know about them, if they value them, and whether the organization should continue investing in them. If employees are interested in existing resources, we help to create a plan for making those benefits easily accessible and communicating their availability clearly and frequently companywide. If any current benefits prove to hold little value to employees, we look to what resources are available that employees would rather have offered and are within the company’s budget. This combination of keeping existing benefits of value and supplementing with new resources as needed creates a powerfully supportive culture for the entire team.

Culture and Brand Alignment is a Must

All of this supports the overarching need to “walk the talk.” Make sure your actions reflect what you’re saying. When companies build a strong external brand but don’t give the same attention and intention to their internal culture, they’re counteracting their own brand building efforts — and it will show.

People want to experience authenticity with a company. When consumers or job seekers are attracted to the external brand but have a completely different experience within the company, it creates distrust. Organizations need to focus on a holistic approach to the brand experience so that it aligns at every single touchpoint.

We are big fans of organizations identifying and proclaiming their purpose; however, if a company talks proudly about who they are, then it also needs to hold up its end of that statement with employees as well. Employees who experience the brand promise every day will exude that purpose in their own work and customer interactions as well.

Think Outside the Box for Impactful Benefits

Traditional benefits are still relevant and valued. Add in desired health and wellbeing support resources that reflect your employee interests and company purpose, and you’ve likely developed a unique and sought-after employee experience that benefits everyone involved.

If you’re looking for expert guidance to enhance your company culture and employee benefits, reach out today to start a conversation with our ethOs team!

March 6, 2024