Smaller Employers Have A Hidden Benefits Advantage

January 25, 2022

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Source: BenefitsPRO, by Nir Leibovich

Quit rates are at record highs and employers of all sizes are struggling to recruit and retain top talent. Economic uncertainty and inflation concerns aren’t making life any easier either. In fact, your benefits programs just might make the difference in hiring and retaining great people. According to recent research from PwC, better benefits programs are second only to wages on the list of reasons why employees would consider leaving their current employer.

Once the benefits conversation gets started, smaller employers often assume they’ve lost the war for talent without a shot being fired. After all, large employers do have greater resources, bargaining power, and many of the other advantages of scale. However, there is a major opening for smaller employers to differentiate their employee experience from the competition: making benefits easy to understand, navigate, and use.

Sure, a Fortune 500 employer might be able to offer their people cushier perks up to and including a gym membership for their employees’ dogs, but what use is it in retaining people if they don’t know how to access that benefit? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s going on in most organizations today. According to recent research, 35% of employed individuals report not fully understanding any of the employee benefits they enrolled in during the most recent enrollment period. Does this matter? You bet it does.

Your people won’t settle for subpar employee experiences

The end-user experience matters throughout the employee life cycle. Amazon, Netflix, and all manner of consumer-oriented businesses have trained people to expect service that is personalized and streamlined. As is natural, enhanced consumer experiences are raising people’s expectations for their experiences at work. And now that the labor market is severely tightening, these expectations could mean the difference between world-beating performance and category-lagging mediocrity. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking of your employees as valued clients to be supported and served.

Benefits should make people feel safe and valued, not confused

Don’t let your people try to navigate benefits programs without support, and don’t let them struggle with a bad user experience either. You could offer the most generous array of benefits in the world, but if your people don’t know how to use them, I’m willing to bet it won’t retain a single person.

Having focused training sessions is one way to help employees feel comfortable with their benefits and show them the ways they can leverage benefits that they might not be aware of. Also, using your HR systems for more than benefits (submitting reimbursements and document management are two simple ways) within your organization allows for employees to get comfortable with the platform, making them more likely to use it more.

Smaller organizations can provide individualized service and support

Personalization, support, and service are the best ways to provide a great benefits experience. However, large organizations often struggle to do this because of the complex bureaucracies they naturally generate and the legacy systems they use to administer them. Smaller, more nimble organizations have the advantage here for a variety of reasons.

Fewer bureaucratic roadblocks make for simpler processes to be sure, and small organizations also have more intimate knowledge of their people’s life situations, needs, and interests. This knowledge makes it possible to tailor your offerings to fit your workforce like a well-tailored suit.

For example, if most of your people are parents of young children, you can easily reallocate resources to alleviate their child care costs and offer extra paternity/maternity leave.

Leverage technology to sidestep unnecessary steps and bureaucracy

Another area where small employers have the advantage is in the technology they use to support and administer their benefits programs. Large organizations are often hamstrung by the limits of legacy software and a bad user experience. Small organizations have the opportunity to leapfrog their competitors for talent by adopting next-generation tech. In this environment, an investment in intuitive, consumer-grade employee experiences like this is bound to pay off.

While the smaller players in the talent marketplace don’t have the money and resources of major firms, they should be taking advantage of their natural agility to revamp their benefits programs.

Learn about your employees and tailor your offerings to their needs. Give them the hands-on support they crave and create a truly exceptional end-user experience. While modernizing your benefits technology will make the road easier, at the end of the day you’re the one in the driver’s seat. Are you ready to take the wheel?

 

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