In today’s competitive employment landscape, many organizations recognize that employees are their most valuable asset. To attract and retain top talent, employers must go beyond higher salaries. Benefit packages should be meaningful and address specific employee needs.

Understanding and addressing any gaps in employee benefits is crucial for employers looking to support and reward their employees. Well-rounded benefits packages often translate to enhanced employee well-being, boosted retention rates and a positive work culture.

This article highlights proactive steps employers can take to assess and identify gaps in employee benefits offerings.

Employer Considerations

Identifying gaps in benefits offerings can be hard, as it requires a careful assessment of employee preferences, trends and organizational resources. Consider the following strategies for identifying and addressing these gaps:

Review existing benefits.

Start by reviewing the current employee benefits package. While taking inventory of benefits, organizations should assess if they offer the basics or any unique employee benefits. This is also a good time to find out if there are any benefits that employees do not or rarely use.

The most common benefits are health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, and life insurance. However, modern employers can go beyond standard benefits with unique employee benefits such as flexible remote work policies.

Analyze employee demographics and specific needs.

Demographics, such as age, gender and marital status, can influence employees’ preferred benefits. Recognize that those needs can shift over time, so this is an ongoing exercise.

Older workforces value strong medical benefits and prescription benefits that lower their out-of-pocket costs. On the other hand, younger workforces look for benefits with lower deductions. Other factors like the company’s location or industry can also affect which benefits employees value.

Another consideration is company culture. Identifying the unique aspects of an organization helps employers retain employees and create a sense of belonging.

Gather employee input.

Conduct surveys, focus groups or collect feedback through other methods to gather information and opinions directly from employees. Employers could as their employees about which benefits are the most important to them. They could also inquire if there are any benefits employees feel are missing or could be improved.

Employees like to feel heard and understood. Listening to employee feedback and implementing it is a sound strategy for employee retention.

Benchmark against industry standards.

Research industry standards and best practices to understand what benefits competitors, and similar or local organizations provide. This can help employers identify any gaps in their offerings compared to competitors.

Benchmarking is especially important for organizations looking to offer employee benefits for the first time. It’s important for these organizations to be aware of what their competitors offer nationally and locally.

Benefits brokers can help companies determine the best benefits to create a competitive employee benefits package. They can also help employers identify contribution strategies that are affordable to the employer and valuable to the employees.

Explore emerging trends and employee preferences.

Stay informed about employee benefits trends. Current trends include flexible work arrangements, mental health support, gym memberships and student loan assistance. This is also the time to consider employee feedback results and reported preferred benefits.

Employers are often relieved to discover that offering certain additional benefits can be voluntary to employees. For example, pet insurance is a new and highly popular benefit. Employees who wish to insure pets can purchase policies, and employers are not required to contribute to the policy. However, employees value these policies because employers can offer these plans at better rates than employees can access individually.

Tailoring benefits to both emerging trends and employee preferences helps protect employers from employee turnover.

Prioritize benefits based on budget and resources.

It’s easy for employers to create a long list of attractive or preferred benefits. But the reality is that they must also consider the company’s budget to determine the likelihood of new or different offerings. It may be helpful to prioritize the benefits that would have the best chance to improve employee wellbeing.

Communicate changes effectively.

Human Resources or benefits administrators should ensure clear and effective communication with employees when introducing or modifying benefits. Education is critical to employees using their benefits. So employers should clearly describe any changes, and explain how benefits changes align with employee feedback, emerging trends or organizational goals.

One example of this is that employees often want a better mental health benefit. Many employers who offer an Employee Assistance Program have a built-in mental health benefit, but don’t remember to tell employees. Good communication improves how benefits are used and employee satisfaction.

Monitor and reassess.

Benefits needs and preferences change over time, so it’s important for employers to regularly monitor the effectiveness of offerings. If drastic changes were made, checking in with some employees to gauge their feedback could be worthwhile.

Lastly, keep the benefits conversation going with employees. If employers understand preferred benefits, it helps to reassess the available options to ensure they meet evolving needs.

Summary

 Savvy employers regularly evaluate their existing benefits, gather employee feedback, benchmark against industry standards and strategically address any identified gaps. Frequently reassessing benefits offerings ensures employers remain competitive in the labor market and meet the evolving needs of the workforce.

Taking a proactive approach to understanding employee needs helps organizations create benefits packages that truly support current and prospective employees. This concerted effort can lead to increased workplace engagement and satisfaction, and, ultimately, organizational success.

Contact The Harbor Financial Group for additional employee benefits guidance.

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