June 18, 2018
Experts Corner

Employee benefits trends to help attract, retain talent

Joe Gianni
Eric Bauer

Attracting and retaining top talent is more challenging than ever.

U.S. unemployment is at a 10-year low and aging Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age and exiting the workforce. In fact, the percentage of working-age Americans in the labor force has dropped to 62.9 percent, near a 40-year low.

One way businesses can attract employees is to understand their needs and provide a portfolio of benefits that are customized to the employee's stage of life. Here are four tips for using employee benefits to help build and sustain a strong workforce.

Appeal to Millennials

First review your strategies for targeting different age groups. According to a recent survey by Glassdoor, employees ages 18 to 44 prefer benefits or perks to pay raises, compared to those ages 45 to 64.

Employers want to hire Millennials, who are poised to climb the career ladder and fill the ranks of exiting Baby Boomers. Contrary to popular myth, Millennials crave job security as much as any generation prior to them. Qualtrics' "Millennial Study" reported that 77 percent of Millennials would be willing to take a salary cut in exchange for long-term job security. In addition, 64 percent of Millennials say benefits are extremely or very important to employer loyalty.

Help employees understand and adjust to new healthcare options

Some companies are adopting consumer-driven or high-deductible healthcare plans, with many pairing these with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to keep employee costs low. As employees adopt these solutions, they'll need the right tools to understand and use their health plans.

Interest in HSAs has picked up among Millennials, but only 50 percent are confident they have a strong understanding of their benefits. Consider new ways to increase their knowledge.

Track changing legislation

In addition to updating internal benefit policies, it's important to track changing healthcare and retirement plan legislation, as it may have far-reaching implications for how employee benefits are administered.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 96 percent of firms with 50 or more full-time employees offered at least one plan that would meet the Affordable Care Act's minimum value and affordability requirements. This year, Congress passed a two-year delay of the 40 percent excise tax (or "Cadillac Tax") imposed by the Affordable Care Act on high-cost, employer-sponsored health plans. This change underscores the need to be aware of legislative activity.

Promote financial wellness tools

A strong financial wellness program can empower employees and build loyalty to the firm. Take time to educate employees about the potential impact of major life events and how to prepare for and estimate the financial impact of future events.

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Workplace Benefits Report found that the No. 1 issue for employees is saving for retirement. Only one-third of employees are engaged with 401(k) plans — contributing 11 percent or more of their salary to their plan.

To encourage better financial habits, 85 percent of employers plan to utilize a financial wellness program. Companies are expanding their educational resources to help inform employee-retirement and healthcare decisions. These efforts include online financial/investment advice, group/classroom education and one-on-one support.

Companies invest an enormous amount of resources in employee benefits, but without proper education and understanding workers may not receive the full value of these benefits. Offering robust plans and ensuring employees have the tools they need to make informed decisions can help you build a strong, sustainable workforce.

Joe Gianni is Bank of America's Connecticut market president. Eric Bauer is B of A's SVP and business banking market executive in Connecticut and western Mass.

Comments
ADVERTISEMENTS
Most Popular on Facebook
Copyright 2017 New England Business Media