Top Benefits To Help You Win the Escalating War for Talent

Benefits to Recruit & Retain Talent

Fierce. Torrid. Red hot.

No, those aren’t reviews for the latest binge-worthy Netflix series. Believe it or not, they’re terms analysts are using to describe the U.S. labor market—and they’re not just hyperbole.

For the first time on record, the number of job openings in the U.S. (6.7 million) exceeded the number of job seekers (6.3 million), according to a June Bureau of Labor Statistics report. And only a few weeks ago the Secretary of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 3.7% for the second straight month—the lowest rate since 1969.

Clearly, it’s a great time to be a job seeker in the U.S.

For employers, on the other hand, it’s a particularly challenging time. Attracting new talent and keeping your best people from jumping ship requires extra thought and creativity in a booming jobs market. One of the best things you can do to strengthen your appeal to talent, not to mention your employment brand, is to offer employees a mix of highly desirable benefits.

Benefits Are a Talent Magnet
If you doubt the drawing power of employee benefits, a 2018 Glassdoor survey found that benefits are one of the two most important considerations people undertake when researching jobs in the U.S. (Salary was the top consideration by just a few percentage points.) When asked what would make them more likely to apply for a job, roughly half of the survey’s participants cited attractive benefits and perks. Additionally, 80% of participants said they would prefer additional benefits over a pay increase.

The question is … what benefits do today’s workers really want beyond medical, dental and vision plans?

Here are five of the most desired benefits programs that will bring new talent to your door and keep your most valued current employees from leaving:

1. Flexible work hours and work-from-home options—These work-life offerings are high on the list of benefits that employees desired most, literally. A 2017 list published by Harvard Business Review (HBR) showed that 88% of workers would consider taking a lower paying job if it offered flexible work hours, while 80% said the same about a job that would let them work from home. As the HBR study reported, “flexibility and work-life balance are of utmost importance to a large segment of the workforce: parents. They value flexible hours and work-life balance above salary and health insurance in a potential job.” And it’s not just parents who value these work-life benefits, as a recent article noted: “Millennials value work-life balance higher than all other job characteristics such as job progression, use of technology and a sense of meaning at work.” Bottom line, benefits that give employees greater control of their work schedules appeal to a wide spectrum of talent.

Flexible work hours and work-from-home options
2. Financial wellness programsPwC’s 2018 Employee Financial Wellness Survey found that 54% of full-time U.S. workers are stressed about their finances and 64% are dealing with the pressures of unpaid student loans. It’s no wonder then that financial wellness programs are among the most attractive benefits to today’s workforce. In addition to offering 401(k) and retirement plans, student loan assistance and tuition assistance, a growing number of employers are providing financial education and counseling to their employees. As the PwC survey noted, “more than half of all employees want to make their own financial decisions but are looking to have someone validate that decision. Employees want a financial wellness benefit with access to unbiased counselors and help understanding and using their benefits.”

3. Backup care—A recent article by SHRM Online observed that caregiving benefits are “growing in importance as employers see opportunities to help workers take care of others.” One key way employers are mitigating the stress of caring for children and aging loved ones is by giving their employees access to a high-quality, flexible backup care program. Backup care ensures that employees have a range of reliable care alternatives at their fingertips 24/7/365 when their regular caregiving arrangements break down. The most flexible programs even allow employees to use trusted family members and friends as backup caregivers—and to pay them for their valuable time as they would any other caregiver. Showing employees that you’re committed not only to them but to the wellbeing of their families is a tremendous draw for talent, and backup care programs are a perfect example.

Backup Care
4. Paid family leave—A 2018 poll by Unum found that paid family leave is the most coveted perk among working adults: 58% of overall workers and 64% of millennials prefer it over other top options. Noting that the strain of balancing professional and family responsibilities spans all generations in the workforce, an Unum spokesperson stated, “a generous leave policy can lead to higher levels of employee engagement and a competitive edge to recruit and retain top talent.” Although there are no federal mandates, several U.S. states and municipalities have implemented variations of paid family leave laws and a growing number of employers are expanding their programs and policies.

5. Skills and Career Development—You might not immediately think of developing your people as a “benefit,” but it most certainly is—and it’s one that millennials and younger workers, in particular, seek out when considering job opportunities. The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that only 40% of millennials and 30% of Generation Z believe they have the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the workplace. The fact is not all organizations do a great job of developing their people and helping them to thrive professionally. That means you can truly set your company apart and stand out as an employer of choice by doing so.

Skills and Career Development

Communication Is Key
Providing a mix of highly desirable benefits is only part of the equation. They won’t do your talent strategy, employment brand or workers much good if nobody knows you offer them. Ample promotion and communication are vital, so be sure to tout your benefits in job ads, on your social media and on your Careers website.

And remember—promoting your benefits internally is an ongoing proposition. Employees need to be reminded on a regular basis that these programs exist and how they can be used to their greatest advantage. Continuous benefits communication will not only help attract and retain talent, it will also ensure your programs deliver the greatest return on your investment.

If you’d like to chat about implementing work-life programs to support your talent attraction and retention strategy, contact us here or call us at (866) 675-3751.