Can you Afford a Benefit Plan? Exploring Cost-Neutral Solutions

Posted in Employee Benefits and Wellbeing, Employee Benefits, Employee Engagement

by James Malia on Aug 17, 2017 12:00:00 AM

Benefit plans don't have to cost the earth to be effective

Attracting and retaining the best talent to your workforce is no easy feat. With 31.95 million people in the UK in work and the job market itself continuing to rise, there are plenty of candidates out there, but how do you go about getting the cream of the crop to join your workforce?

It’s a competitive market - in fact, 83% of employers believe attracting and retaining talent is a growing challenge. But how can you make sure you’re attracting the right people, when you don't necessarily have the finances to compete with the big hitters who can offer the better salary? Could having a great benefits plan be a sure-fire way to entice top talent?

The good news is that introducing a scheme in your workplace doesn't have to cost the earth. We'll look at the cost-neutral solutions for introducing a motivational scheme into your organisation to help you attract and retain the best workers, as well as engaging and empowering your current workforce.

Attracting New Talent

With leading employers receiving roughly 39 job applications per job vacancy, there is an influx of those trying to get their foot on the career ladder. So, what attracts new workers to companies?

In a survey by CollegeFeed on what millennials look for in employers, the top three answers were the people and culture fit, career potential and work/life balance. The same survey also found millennials mostly heard about companies through their friends and job boards, showing they are heavily influenced by their peers.

Millennials are career-driven and want to succeed, but also want flexibility in their schedules so they have a good work-life balance. In line with these expectations, creating a benefits plan to attract the best young talent based on these points doesn't have to be expensive.

Flexitime working is an easy way to attract the best candidates of any age group, allowing staff to fit their working hours more around their individual needs, such as commitments out of work. Certain roles can be flexible, and providing the work isn't reliant on customer demand, employees could work when they choose within a set limit when to begin and end work.

This cost-neutral benefit is attractive to staff as work is still getting done, but they have more choice of when it’s done. 54% of employees agree flexible working enables a better work-life balance and 29% feel it reduces their amount of stress.

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To reap the benefits as an employer, you should look at the needs of the business before making your decision, but with a lot of roles now having the ability to lenient with their hours it's a useful way to attract the best.

But how do you attract the older workforce who are more established and are in the top of the field? Provide them with appreciation for their hard work. Positive recognition is key to happy staff, with 94% of employees who are recognised positively on a daily basis or more satisfied with their job.

Other options such as a holiday buy back scheme, allows employees to sacrifice part of their salary for extra annual leave is a win-win situation for employers and staff. Workers get extra time off while businesses can reduce their wage bill as well as enhance their reputation as an attractive employer.

Flexible working may not suit everybody. Having a recognition scheme in place is a cost-effective way to entice staff who will want to work for an organisation that thanks them for their hard work and is adaptable to their needs. This also relates to the wider perspective of the company culture, where they feel the organisation ethos is strong and that they are an important asset to the team.  

Retaining the best

You've managed to snag a great new employee and it’s already having a positive impact on the organisation. Gallup estimates that companies who select the top 20% most talented candidates for a role see a 10% increase in productivity, so how do you keep those staff members motivated and make them stay?

The quality of your management helps retain employees and the best way to ensure staff remain is to listen. Adopting an open-door policy, listening to staff grievances and actually doing something to help their situation is all on the right track.

The only cost is time, and providing the requests of staff are reasonable, then it’s very easy way to keep staff happy with their working situation and feel motivated. Team members who feel appreciated are more likely to stay in their role, as 65% of disgruntled employees cite not feeling valued as a reason for their dissatisfaction.

It may be customary to have pay reviews in your organisation, but what about ‘stay interviews? Including company-wide opportunities for staff to voice their opinions in a formal manner is no-cost, and a stay interview gives you the chance to ask employees what encourages them to stay at the organisation.

Having a one-to-one conversation might seem daunting but having 360-degree feedback can lead to positive change and help staff feel valued as you're asking for their point of view. Employees being offered this as part of a benefits plan, can enhance the company's brand as you're showing you care about your team.

Engaging your workforce

Keeping your workforce engaged doesn't have to be expensive, there are plenty of cost-neutral solutions to introduce into the office that can keep staff motivated.

Work-related awards are a great way to keep staff engaged. Providing accolades to top performers for continuing to make a difference at the company is well received with 33% of HR professionals citing performance awards as having the biggest impact on employee engagement.  

Giving staff the opportunity for career development as part of an attractive benefit plan can also keep engagement high. If it's feasible in your business, show confidence in your employees and let high-performing staff try their hands at a job role above them to see how they fare.

Extra responsibility can help team members feel part of the team. Staples' 2016 Workplace Index found work responsibilities are leading contributors to staff loyalty for 38% of employees, so if you're looking to improve engagement among your workers, challenging them with more tasks is an effective route to go down. 

One way of engaging your workforce and show your appreciation is by rewarding them for their hard work. Rewards help retain staff but remember, they don't have to be monetary. Cost-neutral solutions rank in the top ten perk employees prefer such as extra annual leave, verbal recognition or even a premium reserved parking space, are all relatively easy to sort and not farfetched to introduce in your organisation.

Our advice is to ask to your employees what they want in terms of they want and help make their lives easier. Steve Olenski, a contributor for Forbes highlights the advantage of talking to employees:

You can learn a lot when listening to employees. Maybe it’s a great new business plan that can be implemented, which makes them feel like they’re a part of the entire business process. You can always spare a few minutes to find out what’s going on with your employees in both their professional and personal lives.

Empowering your workforce

Empowering your workforce is all about trust. Employees are regularly praised for when they get it right, but are employers there to support them when something goes wrong?

Businesses need to be there for their employees when it's not worked out, because we're all human and can make mistakes. If one of your workers suddenly makes a costly one, fear isn't the right tool to ensure they don’t do it again.

When mistakes happen is it always related to work? Commitments outside of the nine to five can affect how people perform, so how can your benefit plan support staff when they need it? Providing training opportunities to staff to further their career development can be funded through some schemes depending on the industry that your business is in. 

Annual leave purchase also has its uses, allowing staff to purchase extra days off if they need time to reflect and reenergise if work is getting too much.

Spotting the signs of employee burnout and being there to pick staff up, and having the tools to be able to support them can help empower workers further and feel more loyal towards the business. Unscheduled absences cost businesses over £2,000 each year per employee, and improving the quality of work can help reduce absenteeism.

There are plenty of cost-neutral solutions for businesses of any size to include in their benefit plan, whether it's attracting the best talent, making them stay or keep them engaged. If you're feeling stuck, start talking to your employees themselves as that's the best place to start when you want to keep them. Support from HR and management will also paint a clearer picture of what's needed to put an action plan into place.

Maximising Employee Rewards

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