Employee Benefits & Compensation Articles

Retaining and attracting the best employees means offering more than competitive salaries. Thoughtful and useful benefits packages set up employees and your business for success. Just make sure you build communications systems that make it easy for your employees to sign up.

Employee Compensation: Benefits and Incentives Beyond Benefits

16 January 2018
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There has been a shift of considerable proportion in the workforce, as millennials are eclipsing Baby Boomers and Gen X. Many things are changing in the workplace, including benefits packages and incentives. As every one person out of three currently working is a millennial, their wants – especially relating to the “goodies” beyond standard employee compensation that an employee reaps from a company – must be considered.

Interestingly enough, money isn’t everything to the newest breed to hit the pavement looking for jobs. In fact, there are several other considerations that come into play. The other interesting thing is that there are incentives beyond a standard benefits package that will attract top talent and retain them.

That Was Then

First, look at the “standard benefits package.” In the late 1800’s that the first private pension was offered to employees at the American Express railroad company. Other large manufacturing businesses and employers such as utility companies and banks followed suit. Healthcare was first offered via the Baylor University Hospital in 1929. It was actually a way for the hospital to make money, by offering a certain number of “free” hospital visits for a small monthly fee. This pre-paid health program eventually was named Blue Cross. The addition of programs like 401K’s came about in 1970.

The standard package also includes:

  • Paid holidays
  • Paid vacation days
  • Paid sick days
  • Paid personal days
  • Bereavement or funeral leave

The major benefits that appeal to employees and add to employee compensation considerations are health insurance, paid time off and some form of pension or savings plan for retirement. The nature of benefits packages have been changing, as millennials are looking for something different. Similarly, the nature of incentives has been changing as well.

This is Now

What are the differences in play for benefits packages? In an article entitled The Work Benefits That Are Making Millennials Happy by Sarah Ludlum, an “Under 30” contributor for Forbes, there are four key points:

  • Shopping for healthcare, rather than having only one option from an employer
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Student loan repayment
  • Career and personal development

This, in addition to competitive employee compensation, isn’t really enough to keep employees – both millennials and earlier generations – completely happy. Perks offered by a company contribute a great deal to employee happiness. And a happy employee is a productive employee.

The Road to Happiness

What is an incentive? The Oxford Dictionary declares it is “A thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something” or “a payment or concession to stimulate greater output or investment.” While a Human Resources pro examines and modifies the benefits packages, s/he can also consider a bevy of incentives which can work for company budgets both small and large. A Michigan company called Austin Benefits Group, which is a broker for benefits packages, compiled a list entitled 101 creative employee benefits ideas for all budgets. There are many options, including:

  • A health insurance premium reduction for wellness participation
  • New hire welcome packages
  • Birthday and/or anniversary parties
  • Flex time
  • Telecommuting
  • Personal time off for one’s birthday

When a potential employee looks at a company, s/he initially focuses on the job posting. The posting asks “What are you going to do for our company?” At some point, most people then will take a look at the company, by Googling it or reading reviews on job sites like Glassdoor. The potential employee is asking the company “What are you going to do for me?” Companies have been learning that the “same old, same old…” benefits and incentives approach can not only cause potential employees to walk away, but can also discourage current employees from staying with the organization.

Happiness Through Human Resources

The people in the proverbial trenches of outsourcing and managing employee compensation, benefits and incentive programs are the Human Resources personnel. Sometimes that means one individual who’s working alone and sifting through mountains of material. Other times the HR department might number in the hundreds. Regardless of department size, HR can find a wide array of ideas and aids to develop the best programs for the employees.

One option is to work with a company that works with Human Resources and management to build or expand employee engagement like Flimp Communications. Another tremendous resource available are articles published by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). In fact, SHRM published an article, Designing and Managing Incentive Compensation Programs, on January 12, 2018 specifically about incentives to offer employees. The first observation in the article is “Incentive compensation programs are primarily used to promote efficiency and productivity of the workforce, but organizations can also use them to enhance employee recruitment, engagement, retention and employer branding.”

Getting the best and the brightest to work for a company rests in the hands of HR. It’s good to know that HR has this covered!

Joetta L. Wagner

Joetta L. Wagner is a researcher, writer and editor extraordinaire with over 20 years' experience. She absorbs information like a sponge absorbs water, and has been known to dazzle cocktail party patrons with an endless array of collected factoids. Her ruthlessness as an editor is an acquired skill.

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