Benefits and Compensation, Recruiting, Talent

Are You Using Benefits Strategically?

The 2017 Strategic Benefits Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) finds that organizations need to move away from thinking about benefits in traditional ways and instead adopt a strategic mindset that considers the impact of benefits on employee recruitment and retention.

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Increased competition for job candidates necessitates such a shift, as does the cost of employee benefits. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 32 percent of total compensation costs are allocated to employee benefits.

Impact of Strategic Benefits

The SHRM survey finds that when organizations focus on using benefits strategically for recruitment and/or retention – these organizations are referred to as “strategic benefits users” – the difference is noteworthy. Strategic benefits users report above-average overall company performance in comparison to organizations that don’t take this approach: 58 percent versus 34 percent.
With regard to recruitment specifically, the survey finds strategic benefits users are more than twice as likely to report above above-average effectiveness in recruitment compared with organizations that don’t use benefits strategically: 19 percent versus 8 percent.
Strategic benefits users also rate their retention efforts as more effective than organizations that don’t use benefits strategically: 28 percent versus 11 percent.

Benefits Communication

SHRM finds that while “communicating effectively” is essential to strategic benefits users, what that entails sometimes varies depending on staff size and HR structure.
Face-to-face communication, for example, which fosters dialogue, requires coordination and planning. It can also take several forms – and not all are equally successful among all responding organizations. One-on-one communication receives the highest ratings from small companies (less than 500 employees), with 51 percent rating the method as “very effective.” On the other hand, lunch and learn sessions are rated “very effective” by only 21 percent of small companies.
However, an online information portal, which serves as a one-stop-shop for benefits, is rated “very effective” by 32 percent of respondents – with no differences among groups; staff size and HR structure aren’t factors.
Similarly, enrollment materials, which allow for personalized communication methods, are rated “very effective” by 35 percent of respondents, with no differences among groups.

Strategic Approach

SHRM indicates that all organizations, including yours, should aim for impactful benefits messaging and recommends the following:

  • Design a communication strategy.
  • Tie benefits messaging to organizational values and culture.
  • Develop a theme or message to help communicate the purpose and value of all benefits offerings.
  • Select leaders and employees who will help champion employee benefits and serve as a source of feedback.