When you hire for a position at your company, what are the non-negotiables that your top talent wants? We’d be willing to bet the two main concerns potential candidates have are their salary and the benefits package. After all, these two factors are what differentiate your business from the competition!
Unfortunately, not all companies know how to create a benefit strategy that really serves the employees. In fact, one study found that 71% of employers believe they offer a benefits package that is better than those offered at other companies, but only 55% of US workers agree. So how do you help close that gap and ensure your employees have the best benefits that they know how to use? The answer is simple: You need a well-designed benefit strategy.
What Is the Value of a Strong Benefits Strategy?
Evaluating benefits isn’t “just another HR department responsibility” either — a great employee benefits strategy goes beyond just putting programs in place. It’s about understanding your company’s culture, values, and strategic goals so that you can design a plan that aligns with those goals (and vice versa). A competitive benefit strategy should include:
- Healthcare coverage and insurance
- Paid time off
- Retirement contributions and retirement plans
- Wellness programs
A great benefit strategy is going to serve your employees and your company, so it truly is a mutually beneficial practice to put into place. Having awesome resources and the means to take care of employee health is at the root of positive behaviors in the workplace.
A benefit strategy that’s part of a larger compensation strategy also helps with talent acquisition and talent retention by providing a foundation for employee satisfaction and motivation, which in turn positively impacts employee engagement , organizational culture, productivity, and overall success.
Steps for a Successful Benefit Strategy
- Determine Employee Needs
An important first step in developing a successful strategy benefit is to accurately assess your employees’ needs and expectations. What do they think they should be receiving from their benefits package? What do they actually receive? Get an idea of the top benefits-related questions your employees are asking, and then conduct an employee benefits survey . A benefits survey can reveal important insights into how your employees see their benefits and can also help you to identify gaps between what your organization currently provides and what employees want. You may look into offering voluntary employee benefits or flex benefits to help fill any gaps.
Aside from assessing your employee preferences, you should also analyze the population demographics and understand the demands placed upon the demographics of your organization. What age groups do you have? What about the gender breakdown? Do most of your employees have children? This can all impact the types of benefits you offer and the healthcare options available.
- Define Goals and Objectives
Once you know what your employees need, you can then turn your attention to defining the objectives that your benefit strategy should address. What are the most pressing needs that employees are looking for?
For example, if your organization has a lot of employees with young families, you’ll want to include parental leave as part of your benefit strategy. If your organization does currently provide paid parental leave, but it is below what is standard in the industry, then you may want to consider increasing the length of your parental leave policy .
Another priority you should weave into your benefits goals is to build inclusion . Employees have different lives and priorities, so when you have feedback from employees, make sure to actually act on that feedback and incorporate it into your objectives.
Your goals should be measurable, too, so set performance benchmarks so that you can better understand the norms for your industry. Common benchmarks that help HR professionals understand benefits include: Cost per member per year
- Cost per member per year
- Preventive care utilization
- chronic condition prevalence
- health engagement
- Out-of-network utilization
- claims analysis
- specialty pharmacy usage
- Plan the Budget
It’s not easy to balance the needs of your employees with the realities of your budget. You also have to consider how important compensation is compared to benefits and how to ensure that your current spending aligns with your most important goals.
While organizations’ budgets vary greatly, it is best to plan well in advance, especially if you’re anticipating budget changes. Keep in mind that a lot of benefits are tax deductible, which can make a big difference in savings for your bottom line. Planning ahead will help you to avoid last-minute decisions that could negatively impact your employees and the benefits they are banking on.
- Create a Communication and Engagement Plan
Now it’s time to get your employees involved and excited through engagement. If your employees don’t want to use their benefits (or don’t know how) then your benefit strategy becomes a bit fruitless. An engagement plan outlines how your organization will engage with employees to help them understand and appreciate their benefits. An engagement plan also details how you’ll incorporate their needs and ideas.
Planning ways in which you will engage with your employees is especially important if your organization uses a defined contribution or flexible benefits approach.
Communicate benefits clearly and transparently and offer written resources where possible so employees can refer to their benefits when needed. Also, ask employees for any questions they have, especially when you first introduce the benefits! Frontloading common questions can clear up a lot of confusion. And of course, provide details for how to enroll and leverage benefits.
- Monitor the Impact and Gather Feedback
Finally, don’t forget this last stage of your benefit strategy: monitor how impactful your benefit strategy is! You can do so by analyzing how many employees are taking advantage of benefits and what feedback employees have.
This means that — you guessed it — you still need to offer regular feedback surveys to get a sense of your employee’s satisfaction with their benefits. There may be some trial and error, so don’t be afraid to adjust your plan when needed! Monitoring the impact also includes monitoring the organization’s overall health and financial status. By being proactive, you can more effectively identify any potential issues early on and determine if any benefits-related changes need to be made.
Implementing Your Benefits Strategy
Successfully implementing a benefit strategy is no easy feat — but great leaders who listen to their coworkers can make your company a rewarding and healthy place to work! It requires careful consideration, strategic planning, and an awareness of all the stakeholders involved, which more often than not results in an increase in employee satisfaction and engagement, a decrease in employee turnover, and improved financial health.
Every competitive benefit strategy offers wellness programs that protect the health and wellbeing of its employees. If you need a potential wellness program for your company, talk to a wellbeing specialist at Gympass to learn more about the many health benefits we offer. With access to dozens of gyms and health apps, you can support the wellness of your employees, mental and physical, with the right resources.
- Benefit Strategies. (October 21, 2022). Vera Whole Health. Retrieved November 25, 2022 from https://www.verawholehealth.com/benefit-strategies.
- Cosentino, Jayla. (November 10, 2021). 9 Steps to Design a Solid Employee Benefits Strategy. Academy to Innovate HR. Retrieved November 25, 2022 from https://www.aihr.com/blog/employee-benefits-strategy/.
- The 5 Steps to Creating a Healthy Benefits Strategy. (January 2020). Cigna.Retrieved November 25, 2022 from https://www.cigna.com/employers/insights/creating-a-health-care-benefits-strategy.
- The Hartford’s Future of Benefits Study. (2020). The Hartford. Retrieved November 25, 2022 from https://www.thehartford.com/employee-benefits/future-of-benefits-study.
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.