31 May Benefits And Perception (Part I)
When I first begin discussions with business owners regarding benefits, their first statement often goes something like this, “I pay a fortune for my benefits package and all my employees do is complain about it.” Employee perception of benefits often simply is not supported by reality. Why is this and what can be done about it?
Communication and Engagement:
For benefits communication to be effective, employees must be engaged in the process. Too often, a business owner (with all good intentions) makes decisions about what benefits to offer to employees without getting input from those employees. The benefits are set for the year and all that’s left to do is communicate them to employees in the annual benefits roll-out meeting. Employees should be appreciative, right? Not necessarily. While the employees’ best interests have certainly been considered by the owner/manager, they haven’t been involved in the process. What makes perfect sense to the mid-50’s owner may not make sense at all to the young employee with small children trying to make ends meet financially.
Should all benefits packages look the same?
Absolutely not. Every employee in every company has a different situation and therefore a different perspective about what is of value to his/her family. There is a set of core benefits (Life, Dental, Vision, Long-Term Disability) that is often considered, but every company is different. Health Insurance has traditionally been included in this set of core benefits, but whether to even offer Health Insurance has become increasingly complex. It is essential for employers to understand the ramifications of offering health insurance to their employees, both positive and negative. (See Part II of this article).
Benefits can come in all shapes and sizes:
Benefits, for sure, can be very complicated and expensive, but does that necessarily need to always be the case? By simply listening to employees, an owner may find that a simple change in schedule, or free coffee/ inexpensive snacks, or a parking adjustment can improve morale and perception without a major hit to the bottom line. Don’t get me wrong. If it was that easy, everybody would do it. All I’m saying is that employees know what they value better than anybody else. Sometimes it can be simple and inexpensive. It doesn’t cost anything to listen and engage employees in the process.
Sometimes it is difficult to align perception and reality. In the “Benefits World,” it’s a shame for a business owner to feel that the benefits that he/she has worked so hard to provide is unappreciated by the employees. It’s important that the employees know how much work and money have gone into being able to offer benefits. Effective Communication and Employee Engagement are the keys to making sure that the employees understand the value of the benefits package, and the commitment that has gone into it.