How to Use Benefits to Help Talent Acquisition and Retention
With over 4 million more job opportunities than employees to fill, the task of finding and retaining talent has become increasingly difficult for many companies.
However, according to financial advisor Jeanne J. Sutton, employers should look for ways to develop skills and the benefits they offer.
Changing the Status Quo
It is a given that employees often want more benefits than what is provided by health insurance and retirement plans. This means that companies that provide the extras that employees want will win the competition for talent, explained Sutton at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2022.
Understanding what employees and co-workers want and thinking outside the box makes sense because the goal is to attract people back to work. The unemployment rate only affects people who are looking for work, meaning there is a huge untapped talent pool that companies can tap into, such as retirees and people who have decided to stay home to take care of themselves.
What Can Companies Offer?
Sutton explains that employers have several ways to improve the quality they offer without
beyond their budget, from allowing flexible work schedules and helping with student loans to implementing four workdays and offering access to earned income.
After working remotely for two years, many employees don’t want to go back to rigid schedules and on-site jobs. Instead, they want a more flexible approach and the opportunity to work remotely a little more.
Getting Pay Access
As inflation makes life difficult, an increasing number of hourly workers want to be paid every day of work. Many large corporations are now paying their employees at the end of their careers. Employers hoping to compete for this talent pool should consider doing the same.
Employers can also allow new employees to make 401(k) contributions immediately and enroll in the plan, although a year of employment is required before matching contributions can be made. Many companies have also increased their matching contributions from 50% to 100%. Sutton also suggests a profitable time with bonus contributions and setting up emergency savings accounts that can be paid from payroll deductions.
Employers may also consider allowing employees to carry over vacation from year to year or convert it into cash. Another option would be to contribute the money directly to a 401(k) contribution or to a student loan.
One way to retain older workers and attract retirees is to allow for reduced hours. Older workers can switch to a 30-hour work week, instead of retiring. Many would be willing to take a pay cut along with a reduced weekly shift as long as they continue to receive health insurance.
Taking care of children
Employers can encourage employees with young children to return to work by offering additional benefits. Some examples include the provision of partial or full childcare while a parent is away from home, subsidizing summer camps, paying for travel companions for business employees to pick up their children, even sending free breast milk.
Sutton also cited student loan assistance as a good way to attract and retain talent, especially if employers offer matching benefits, which are tax-free up to $5,250 a year. Another option is for employers to make matching contributions into a 401(k) or employer-sponsored 529 plan, which would allow employees to pay the cost of their spouse’s student loans.
Four Day Work Weeks
Sutton supports four work weeks because research shows that productivity does not decrease when used correctly. According to one survey, one-third of the people who worked there considered working four days a week to be the most important thing.
When redesigning a benefits package, Sutton advises employers to focus on the benefits people are already using. If adding new benefits, employers should focus on what employee surveys say are most important. Ideally, employees can highlight the benefits they find most important.
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