Recognizing that women are leaving corporate work environments at record numbers, it’s important for leaders to focus on retention strategies that engage all employees and deliver what they want, not what has been done in the past. I think of the leadership book by Marshall Goldsmith, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”, where the key takeaway for me was that you need to continue to advance your thinking and actions in order to continue to grow and develop; you can’t rely on past successes to be a career catalyst or for behavioral shortcomings to be dismissed. The company analogy is that companies have historically used a waiting period for key benefits (i.e., medical, dental, life insurance) for new hires which was enough and widely accepted by employees. Well, I’m suggesting that you revisit those policies and the decision-making situation that led to them, the outcome may no longer be serving you or the needs of your employees. The cost of not providing them on the day of hire may be far more costly on an intrinsic basis than you can afford as it will possibly limit your ability to attract and recruit key talent. Check out what your competitors are doing and make sure that you are in line with them at minimum. Service providers in this space are getting more competitive so negotiate wisely and don’t wait until open enrollment to consider a change, it takes time and effort to do it effectively.
A benefit that I believe is the most underutilized one across companies and industries is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). These programs offer a wide array of low or no-cost services to employees and is charged on a per-employee basis. So, since you’re already paying for it, why don’t you market it to employees to leverage, especially in these challenging times. The counseling services, both financial and mental can make a huge difference in employee well-being along with their extended family members that are usually included in such plans. These are programs are entirely confidential in terms of participation and provide just-in-time services to those in need. This will then free up your employees to be more focused on their work knowing that their family needs are being met.
Remember that carve out plans allow leaders to structure benefits to best meet the competitive needs of their employee groups. It is entirely acceptable to offer two types of group benefits for the leadership team and individual contributors to optimize the spend and remain competitive within your respective industries. You can also review and flex the company funding percentages for respective benefits to ensure that employee costs are not continuing to rise outside of their ability to participate. Be mindful of change in tax legislation that occurs during the year and evaluate it in relation to the employee experience to ensure that you are getting the most for the investment that you are making. Group benefits with an improved employee experience is an advantage worth investigating.
While we’re on the topic of group benefits, don’t forget to review the experience that employees have relative to the utilization of the benefits. One such example is that regardless of the funding model you use, is the processing of claims reasonable and readily accessible for all employees? By checking in with employees on these types of situations, you can dramatically improve the benefit experience. At times, the Benefits Department may need to intervene to manage expectations in terms of claim processing procedures, times and outcomes. Being an advocate for your team is well-received by the employee population. The benefit providers that you use is a reflection of your reputation as an employer, make sure that you are all getting your monies worth!
While these suggestions are not innovative and new, it’s a good reminder to make sure that you are getting what you pay for and that the return is in alignment with the spend. Call me to discuss more leading-edge programs that will promote retention and engagement with your team!