Edi­tor’s Desk

Employee Benefit News - - CONTENTS - KATHRYN MAYER

The con­cern for em­ploy­ers is be­com­ing less about, ‘how am I go­ing to solve my com­pany’s prob­lems?’ and more about ‘how am I go­ing to help my em­ploy­ees solve their prob­lems?’

GET 15,000 HR PRO­FES­SION­ALS in a room to­gether and you might be sur­prised to find out what their big­gest con­cern is.

It isn’t about how to ad­dress ris­ing health­care costs — which for years has been the No. 1 pain point. It isn’t a tal­ent short­age, or keep­ing up with the lat­est tech­nolo­gies. It isn’t about on­go­ing health re­form leg­is­la­tion — de­spite the lat­est Sen­ate bill just drop­ping. And it isn’t even about the grow­ing de­mo­graphic of mil­len­nial work­ers — a gen­er­a­tion with which many said they strug­gled to con­nect.

In­stead, as I found in chat­ting with ben­e­fits and HR pro­fes­sion­als dur­ing the So­ci­ety for Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment’s an­nual con­fer­ence in New Or­leans, the big­gest con­cern is re­cruit­ing top-notch em­ploy­ees, then fig­ur­ing out how to get them to stick around.

And it be­came pretty ob­vi­ous what the so­lu­tion was as the con­fer­ence went on.

Re­cruit­ing and re­tain­ing em­ploy­ees was the rea­son that one-third of em­ploy­ers said they beefed up their ben­e­fit pack­ages this year, ac­cord­ing to SHRM’s newly re­leased an­nual ben­e­fits sur­vey. And while health and well­ness of­fer­ings are still im­por­tant — 22% of or­ga­ni­za­tions said they in­creased health ben­e­fits and 24% said they in­creased well­ness perks — those are hardly enough rea­son for em­ploy­ees to stay true to their em­ployer.

More and more, work­ers are de­mand­ing perks that help im­prove their qual­ity of life. And em­ploy­ers are fi­nally tak­ing note.

Ben­e­fits on the rise, ac­cord­ing to SHRM, in­clude flex­i­bil­ity, fi­nan­cial ad­vice, telecom­mut­ing and lac­ta­tion rooms. And smart em­ploy­ers, of course, are go­ing even fur­ther. As you’ll read about on p. 10, South­west Air­lines of­fers one-on-one fi­nan­cial coun­sel­ing, Amer­i­can Ex­press has a work-life bal­ance pro­gram for its em­ploy­ees, and Aka­mai Tech­nolo­gies of­fers a lib­eral tele­work pro­gram called Aka­mai Any­where that al­lows work­ers to ap­ply to do their jobs en­tirely off site.

Patag­o­nia, the out­door cloth­ing re­tailer, of­fers an on­site child­care cen­ter — among other fam­ily-friendly perks — and a Patag­o­nia ex­ec­u­tive won­dered dur­ing the SHRM con­fer­ence why other em­ploy­ers don’t.

“It’s as­ton­ish­ing — and a lit­tle em­bar­rass­ing — that our coun­try’s busi­ness lead­ers pro­vide paid leave to just 13% of work­ers and just a frac­tion pro­vide on­site child­care,” Rick Ridge­way, Patag­o­nia’s vice pres­i­dent of pub­lic en­gage­ment, said dur­ing one ses­sion. “It costs us a lot to pro­vide [on­site child­care] but we get so much re­turn on em­ployee re­ten­tion and en­gage­ment.”

Over­all, the con­cern for em­ploy­ers is be­com­ing less about, “how am I go­ing to solve my com­pany’s prob­lems?” and more about “how am I go­ing to help my em­ploy­ees solve their prob­lems?”

From balancing bud­gets to balancing work-life bal­ance, there’s no doubt work­ers are look­ing for as­sis­tance. And soon, I pre­dict, they’ll be de­mand­ing it.

When it comes to the tal­ent war, em­ploy­ees are now in the driver’s seat. So em­ploy­ers, are you go­ing along for the ride?

Send let­ters, queries and story ideas to Edi­tor-in-Chief Kathryn Mayer at kathryn.mayer@source­me­dia.com.

The con­cern for em­ploy­ers is be­com­ing less about, “how am I go­ing to solve my com­pany’s prob­lems?” and more about “how am I go­ing to help my em­ploy­ees solve their prob­lems?”

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