Every organization has a few employees like this: People who think their benefits are an entitlement.
Even so, you hope to retain them, because they’re often reasonably productive employees. .
Deadline? What deadline?
Some employees seem to think you’ve nothing better to do than nag them to turn in benefits paperwork. They act annoyed when you send repeat reminders (forgetting you are actually doing them a favor). Others ignore you until it’s too late, then ask for an extension.
To stop such situations from becoming chronic, consider adding a benefits paperwork policy to your employee handbooks.
The policy should warn employees that deadlines are non-negotiable. You may also want to mention in the policy that most federal and state benefits laws – ranging from ERISA to FMLA – say you’ve done your duty by sending out just one announcement.
From there, compliance is up to the employee as long as the original notice contains two things:
- the date you needed all completed paperwork turned in by, and
- a clear indication of the consequences (e.g., late fees or coverage denial) if they miss the deadline.
Most employees fall in line if their employer consistently enforces this policy. The key is to not give in to the whiners and excuse-makers.
The youngest employees in the workforce – the 18- to 25-year-old group known as Generation Y – have proven especially hard to deal with. Statistics show 54% of these employees leave within a year of hire.
Their attitudes toward benefits, salary, recognition programs and advancement in the organization can often be summed up this way: “I want it all now. Otherwise, I’ll put on my MySpace page how horrible it is to work here. Then I’ll quit.”
How are some firms retaining their more productive Gen-Y employees? Three ways that work:
- immediate rewards. Young workers live in the moment, so empowering supervisors to give out small rewards on the spot (e.g., a $10 gift card or a comped work day) often goes over better than a larger holiday bonus.
- equal flex-time. First make clear if, when and how flex-time is given. Then offer it on the same basis to the recent grad as the soccer mom, and
- education. Creating Gen Y-specific education messages often pays off in better participation.
Example: When doing 401(k) or HSA education, hammer home the fact that participants own these accounts and control the money in them.
The ‘grass is greener’ group
A third group that makes life tough on Benefits/HR are employees who grumble how inadequate their benefits and pay are compared with other firms.
“Salaries are too low here,” they moan. “And the health coverage stinks. The copays and deductibles are too high.”
The most common way to prove such notions wrong is to issue yearly total compensation statements. But you may also want to hold a benefits focus group, inviting workers to present specific ideas for improving the benefits package.
If the grumblers have a legitimate suggestion to offer, you can adopt it. If not, they lose their credibility with — and influence over — other workers.