Attracting and Retaining Quality Talent

When you think of innovative startups and millennials in the workforce, does your mind drift to ping-pong tables, free snacks and open seating? For years, these benefits have been highly touted by employers. But while fun, these perks ultimately have little impact on employees’ overall lives. And with unemployment at record low levels, the competition for attracting top employees is continuing to heat up.

By MATTHEW OWENBY, Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, Aflac

When employers are flexible, receptive and communicative about the workplace benefits they offer, everyone profits

When you think of innovative startups and millennials in the workforce, does your mind drift to ping-pong tables, free snacks and open seating? For years, these benefits have been highly touted by employers. But while fun, these perks ultimately have little impact on employees’ overall lives. And with unemployment at record low levels, the competition for attracting top employees is continuing to heat up.

So, how can you continue to attract quality employees? Workers no longer look at their employers the same way they did 10 – or even five – years ago. Businesses know their benefits offerings need a certain spice to do more than merely satisfy their workers’ basic benefits needs.

The 2018 Aflac WorkForces Report revealed that benefits are a key differentiator when new employees decide whether to join a company – and when existing ones decide to leave. Nearly 70% of employees said their benefits packages are extremely or very important to their wellbeing, financial health, and job satisfaction. Additionally, 34% say improving their benefits packages would help keep them in their jobs, second only to increasing their salaries.1

While additional medical benefits and value-added services are important, it’s just as important to consider the long-term success of your employees. Aflac has always operated under the belief that as employees grow with companies, their talents should grow as well. Many Aflac employees stay with the company for 30 years or more. To ensure that employees feel they always have a next step to strive for, Aflac implemented the Career Success Center five years ago. Designed to allow employees to discuss with managers and executives the next step in their career, these candid conversations help reveal why the employee might not have been chosen for previous promotion opportunities, as well as determine what the ideal next step would be in their career. The Center also includes helpful programs that enhance employees’ skills in areas such as resumé writing and interviewing.

While some companies might be nervous that these conversations could lead employees away from the company, Aflac feels that providing employees options to move to a department that is a better fit will ultimately lead to longer employment and increased engagement with the company. The ultimate goal is to ensure each employee is on the proper track for the position for which they are best suited.

So far, the program is paying off. To date, more than 2,000 Aflac employees have participated, with 1,300 obtaining promotions or changing their career direction to something more suited to their talents. While Aflac’s employee engagement/satisfaction is an industry-leading 83%, the company recognizes that employment is a choice. The company’s commitment to taking care of its employees attracts new employees as well as ensures that current employees stay and grow within the business. Aflac’s total employee turnover rate – below 9% – remains low relative to the financial services industry.

When it comes to employee benefits, companies must ask themselves, “Are we doing enough?” Simply offering the same benefits options from 15 years ago risks having top candidates head straight for the door. But when companies offer the right benefits, it can open the door to increased overall employee satisfaction, fewer missed workdays and a higher commitment to meeting the company’s goals.

THE MUST-HAVE BENEFITS
Additional Options for Employers

While almost all benefits packages include at least some kind of medical insurance, many job applicants are looking for benefits that go beyond the typical coverage. Some options include:

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
An FSA is an optional savings account used to help pay off various medical expenses and is beneficial to both employers and employees. Accounts provide employers that offer these benefits a reduction in employer and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes, while also reducing the taxable wage of employees who participate in the plan. And because FSAs allow tax-free reimbursement for a wide variety of qualifying health care and dependent care expenses, they can be chosen by employees who know they and their families will have their health care needs met throughout the year.2

Health Savings Account (HSA)
An HSA is similar to an FSA in that it provides an optional savings account for employees to use for their medical expenses and have similar tax benefits. But employees must have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) to qualify for an HSA. The good news is that HSAs are not bound to a particular employer and accompany an individual should they change jobs or enter retirement. Another perk of an HSA is that it does not fall victim to the “use it or lose it” rule. Unlike an FSA, where money may disappear if it is not used after a year, the funds in an HSA never expire.

Value-added services
Many businesses feel the need to go beyond benefit basics. Employers are increasingly offering supplemental insurance, which gives policyholders cash to help with expenses their health insurance doesn’t over, like deductibles and copayments. Value-added services complement supplemental coverage to provide immediate value for employees.

Education assistance
With U.S. total student loan debt at $1.56 trillion spread among 44.7 million Americans, it’s evident that paying for college is one of the greatest stressors for Americans.3 In fact, 86% of employees between the ages of 22 and 33 said they would commit to an employer for five years if the employer helped pay off their student loans.4 Fortunately, student loan assistance is a value-added service that allows companies to contribute directly to an employee’s student loan, much like they would to a 401(k).

Financial welfare support
Employees spend an average of 10 hours per week worrying about their finances during working hours, yet only one-quarter of companies offer policies and practices that address employees’ financial health.5 Retirement planning and writing a will are two key areas where value-added services can help employees. Additionally, services exist to provide employees with a health advocate who can help answer workers’ questions about medical bills, and more.

Health and wellness opportunities 
Many workers turn to fitness as an outlet for stress relief, but the costs can sometimes outweigh the benefits. That’s where two value-added services can help employees: online wellness platforms provide resources that help employees maintain healthy lifestyles, while telemedicine lets employees connect online with a doctor wherever they go. Along with being convenient, such services can be pertinent to the business. One study found that 95% of employers view their financial wellness programs as being effective in reaching company goals.6

 

ENDNOTES

1. 2018 Aflac WorkForces Report – 12 Trends Influencing the Future of Workplace Benefits – Employee Survey Overview. For more information, visit AflacWorkForcesReport.com.

2. Zenefits, “FSA vs HSA: Which is Best For Your Employees?” Accessed Jan. 7, 2019. https://www.zenefits.com/blog/fsa-vs-hsa.

3. Forbes, “Student Loan Debt Statistics In 2019: A $1.5 Trillion Crisis.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/02/25/student-loan-debt-statistics-2019/#2fb1451d133f.

4. American Student Assistance, “American Student Assistance Young Workers and Student Debt Survey Report Methodology.” https://s3-us-east-2.amazonaws.com/staging.asa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/14141823/asa_young_worker_and_student_debt_survey_report-1.pdf.

5. Mercer, “2018 Global Talent Trends Study.” http://www.mmc.com/insights/publications/2018/jan/mercer-globaltalent-trends-2018.html.

6. Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, “2018 Workplace Benefits Report.” https://www.bofaml.com/content/dam/boamlimages/documents/articles/ID18_0771/2018_wbrbrochure_arsrjr96.pdf.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a solicitation. “Aflac” herein refers to American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and/or American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.