14th May 2019
We’ve heard of tech companies such as Facebook and Google that are famous for their over the top employee benefits. Open all day salad bars, nap pods, gourmet chef cuisine, and in house child care.
Those are all pretty exciting benefits for employees, but what’s the cost and benefit to the employer? Most of us have had exposure to more traditional benefits like medical and dental coverage, retirement savings plans, maybe massage or physio coverage, but whether they are traditional, or non-traditional benefits, what’s the benefit to employers who provide them, and why do they matter?
I had a chance to discuss how benefits can influence a workplace with Brad Woods who is one of the certified health insurance specialists at Island Group Benefits. Island Group Benefits focus on employee extended health benefits, and work with a wide range of organizations and industries across the island, and mainland.
An organization that engages in the development of a good benefits package that is implemented, managed, and used effectively, can do much more than take care of their employees. They can reap the benefits of employees engaging with the organization.
Brad gave examples where employees that feel healthy, happy, well adjusted, and valued by the organization are more likely to see the organization in a positive light. It helps them understand where they add value, and make better decisions. Benefits can help develop this type of engaged culture which is more willing to contribute to organizational objectives, and success, and apply discretionary effort which in turn benefits the organization. Some benefits of an engaged culture are outlined below:
While benefits programs on their own may not drive all these potential impacts, these examples indicate that using a mechanism like benefits programs to support employees wellbeing can have significant upsides.
So if benefits keep employees happy, and healthy, and can make businesses more efficient, and productive, while attracting and retaining top talent, why doesn’t everyone have phenomenal benefits packages like Google?
Brad explained that as beneficial as benefits can be to organizations, there are definitely challenges to benefits:
Historically many organizations had a benefits program for employees, but they weren’t managed particularly well, were often underused, and used re-actively. Tendencies were to use benefits to respond to an incident of ill health, injury, or unexpected event, which hasn’t always been to the employer or employees benefit.
Considering the long history of benefits, and their continual evolution, I asked Brad what changes he’s seen in benefits use, and he indicated that many organizations now see the limits to reactive benefits management, and the value of encouraging employees to use the benefits preventatively and proactively to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and reduce injuries and illness creating benefits for both employer and employee.
I also asked Brad what other trends or changes might also be shifting in relation to employee benefits? The answer was employers incorporating less traditional plans, and seeing value in implementing more innovative and customized plans that dial in on employee needs.
Some examples of more exotic employee benefits are pet insurance, and on site amenities such as car washes, haircuts, and a 3 day soccer tournament. At some point, these benefits merge with culture, but where exactly is the line?
Brad feels that benefits will continue to evolve around social needs, and trends themselves. Considering the demographic of your industry, or workplace can help forecast benefits trends, and potential requirements within your organization that may influence benefit expectations.
So with some clear advantages, and challenges associated with benefits, are they worth having? Some organizations may doubt the advantages of benefits. Brad thinks they’re worth having, but it does depend on your organizational and employee needs because the more unique and varying your needs are, the more complex the benefits package may become.
Benefits programs that don’t get used, don’t add value to employers, or employees. If you’re offering benefits, are you getting value out of the program? If you have a program, and doubt that there’s value for your organization, it’s helpful to consider a few things to verify those thoughts:
The bottom line, is if you’ve assessed your program, and still aren’t sure, give them the benefit of the doubt, and leave them intact, the evidence generally supports their organizational value.
Whether you’re considering a benefits program, or you have an existing one, there are a huge range of benefits packages available that can be scaled to any size business, and tailored to meet employer, employee, and organizational needs. While offering employee benefits might not be for everyone, they do have the potential to influence your workplace.
Evidence seems to indicate that they can improve employee health and wellness, morale and engagement. They may also provide competitive advantages and help your organization attract and retain employees, reduce employee costs related to poor health, and influence organizational performance.
Every organization has a different culture, and cultures evolve and adjust. How you choose to offer your benefits isn’t set in stone, and can be tweaked and fine-tuned to reflect your organizations culture, and objectives. Benefits programs can be traditional, simple, and cost effective, or detailed, and custom designed for your ever changing workforce’s needs.
If you haven’t implemented benefits in your workplace, or reviewed your program, it might be worth considering as it seems in some cases the benefits of offering benefits, outweigh the costs.
Brad Woods will be speaking at our Wellness in the Workplace event May 30th in Nanaimo if you’d like to hear him speak more on this topic. Alternatively feel free to contact Brad at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.islandgroupbenefits.ca
Posted in: Safety Blog