How to create a benefits package that will attract and retain top talent

Let’s face it, everyone is looking for the same answers. No company is unique in wanting to attract and retain the best talent. Nor are we alone in looking at how our benefits package can play a part. So to be competitive, we need to ask better questions.

Do we rely on benefits that look good on paper or do we truly enhance the employee experience? Are we creating a trendy package or are we reassuring candidates that we’ve got their back? The best talent expects the best support from their employer. But their definition of ‘best support’ is changing.


A new approach is needed

There was a time when remuneration was enough. Talented employees would seek out the best paid gigs, maybe glancing at bonuses, holiday and health too. But that era is firmly in the past.

Now there’s Learning and Development to pay attention to, because employees want to know how they’ll progress. It’s also important to tell them how you’ll address beyond-the-job skills like financial know-how. Employees don’t end their weekly existence at 5pm on a Friday. Their wider life affects their work life, and acknowledging this in your benefits package shows you care, perhaps more than the next company which focuses on improving the 9-5 experience.

But we can’t rely on first impressions. Benefits packages are a more complicated formula than many think. It’s not just an inventory of appealing perks. No doubt those bullet points have a role, just like the numbers attributed to an annual salary. But there are more nuanced factors at play.

Our employees are the best brand ambassadors we have. Their experience shapes retention within and our reputation beyond. If we can create a benefits package that addresses their most pressing concerns, they’re more likely to stick around and show us off. And this is the kind of word of mouth that improves Glassdoor ratings, and cuts through the recruitment noise.


What holds the employee experience together?

Wellbeing underlies much of the employee experience. It affects our colleague relationships and team dynamics, our health and home life. Then there’s all the problems that the pandemic has exacerbated. Even within companies that have thrived over the past year, mental health has taken a hit – and this can mean more holes in the leaky bucket of talent retention.

So how does this impact benefits? Well, first it’s useful to have ongoing confidential support. This isn’t flashy but it can be a lifeline to employees who could be under strain for any number of reasons. It also assures others they’ve got help if and when they need it.

But we can also get preemptive. This might be a matter of getting mental health coaching on board. Or it can be a case of bringing the team together through events. There are a number of apps and services, like Sanctus, who make it simple to access support and coaching.

When we address mental health – and physical health has a part in this too – our employees are less likely to lose sleep. They’re able to be more productive at work, and enjoy it too. We’ll see fewer employees leave in search of greener pastures. And better talent is more likely to hop on board and stay on board.


The finance factor

Stress is not an issue in itself. It is a symptom of something else that we need to address. While other daily problems may trigger our strain, it is often our financial fears that lay the foundation.

Finances are the most widespread cause of worry. Willis Towers Watson report that 47% of employees worry about finances, while only 41% worried about relationships and 29% worried about health. 

While we must tackle mental health, we’re wasting our resources if we throw everything at the symptom and not at the cause.

If you’re looking for more direct correlations, it’s reported that 3.6 hours are lost each week because staff are distracted by financial stress. What’s more, those with financial worries are 7.6 times less likely to finish daily tasks and 2.2x more likely to be looking for a new job.

So if HR is going to speed up recruitment and stop the churn, financial wellbeing needs to be part of the benefits package. And it can’t just be a bullet point either.


This is the next wave

To stay competitive in the talent market, we have to pay attention to the signs. In their wellbeing report, ThanksBen found that 84% of respondents said the goal of their benefits programme was to stay competitive. But only 27% offered financial education and advice as part of their wellbeing offering. And even then, such advice often won’t be the impartial, confidential support employees are looking for. This is where you can get ahead. 

It won’t stay like this for long. In the PwC Employee Wellness Survey, 88% of employees said they wanted a financial expert to help them. What’s more, a third of employees said that an unbiased one-to-one financial coach would be the number one benefit they would want to see introduced by an employer.

So the door of opportunity is open. But if you don’t take it soon, you’ll be falling behind. To learn more about how to go beyond the paycheck for your team, check out our free financial wellbeing guides.

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