Human Resources News & Insights

Do your C-level folks understand what’s really important to your employees?

There’s a dangerous disconnect afoot when it comes to what employees really want. And it could be costing your company a bundle – both in money and employee turnover.  

Benefits aren’t cheap, which means that you want to be devoting your attention to the ones that will provide the biggest payoff, both in ROI and employee engagement.

But there’s new evidence that what your financial honchos believe to be the most coveted benefits today aren’t. Just ask employees.

A recent survey from Accountemps shows the disconnect. Take a look at what employees picked, vs. what CFOs thought they would, and HR’ll have some ammunition in the fight to keep your company focused on the right things.

The C-Level view …

The question asked of CFOs by Accountemps: “Other than additional compensation, which one of the following do you believe would top your employees’ wish lists when it comes to their jobs this year?” The responses:

  • Better benefit plan, such as enhanced healthcare plan: 41%
  • More vacation days: 19%
  • More scheduling flexibility, such as telecommuting or flexible work hours: 15%
  • More training or professional development opportunities: 12%, and
  • Other corporate perks, such as onsite meals and amenities, health and wellness or subsidized transportation: 11%

… and the workers speak

Now compare that to how employees ranked the same perks:

  • More vacation days: 30%
  • Better benefit plan, such as enhanced healthcare plan: 26%
  • More scheduling flexibility, such as telecommuting or flexible work hours: 19%
  • More training or professional development opportunities: 15%, and
  • Other corporate perks, such as onsite meals and amenities, health and wellness or subsidized transportation: 9%

Looks like many folks would take the time over a better health plan.

Of course this was a random sample of employees and your own workforce might rank these benefits differently.

But the data really drives home (we hope to your C-level execs) what HR has known all along: It’s dangerous to simply assume what’s most important to people. The money side of the argument: You could be pumping dollars into initiatives that won’t be as appreciated as others might be.

So how can you ensure your efforts are best aligned?

Ways to stay in touch

There are any number of strategies you can employ to keep your company’s efforts on track on the benefits front, from formal to informal:

Survey them. Want to know what your employees value most? Ask them. Even setting up a quick online survey can get folks to rank key benefits in order of importance to you. You’ll never get full consensus, but you’ll likely get a big picture trend of what they care about most.

Ask them casually. It’s important to check in with staffers beyond performance review season. Managers can use those periodic encounters to see what staffers care most about now. That’s where you’ll likely get anecdotal info that can help you better understand why employees value what they value. Bonus: You’re showing your team you’re interested in knowing what matters to them.

Look at what they do, not at what they say. Another subtle way to gauge what’s most important? See what staffers get most passionate about. Your Payroll people can tell you folks sure get riled up when it’s an issue with their paychecks, but what other things are people speaking up about? That may show you where to devote time and dollars.

And remember, no matter which of these (or combination of these) you do, it’s not a one-and-done situation. People’s priorities change, so you want to periodically check in to make sure nothing major has shifted.

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  • What I find surprising is that the C-Suite did so well! Their top 5 were the same as the employees’ top 5; the only difference impacting employee satisfaction would seem to be if management addressed only the #1 issue; if they addressed even 2 issues, they would have hit the top two concerns of employees. I think this survey shows a much better connection than I would have imagined. Thank you.