In today’s Great Resignation job market, employers need to leverage every competitive advantage they can, especially unconventional benefits. Traditional benefits like health insurance and 401K matching aren’t enough to attract and secure top tier talent. But by leveraging unconventional benefits your organization can improve retention and attract the next generation of talent.
In a recent Paycom webinar, “Unconventional benefits: What does your workforce really want?” Sharlyn Lauby, President of ITM Group and Will Cornelius, Workforce Marketing Partner at Paycom, dove into the topic of unconventional benefits to get a sense of what’s possible and the value they bring to both the employee and the employer.
First, employees must know about the benefits you offer. Sending out an email once isn’t going to cut it. People are busy and they need to be reminded on an ongoing basis. Why offer these benefits if no one is going to take advantage of them?
Here are a few unconventional benefits that might pay off for you:
Unconventional benefit #1: Charitable involvement
Benefits don’t always pertain to personal needs, and corporate philanthropy is not a new concept. However, employees want to join companies that give back.
And charitable contributions don’t have to be defined by just monetary giving. They can include things like volunteer events such as helping to beautify a public park or serving meals at a local homeless shelter. These are things employees can partake in because they care.
And while the message that goes around from statistics being spouted throughout all industries is that it’s the younger generations of employees who truly desire to work for companies who are involved in charities, it’s a topic that’s important to everyone. You’d be hard pressed to find an employee who doesn’t have a charity they give to or volunteer for.
“Regardless of age we are seeing an increasing number of people say that organizations should give back to the communities that support them,” said Lauby. “And there are many different ways organizations can do that. They just need to find the way that works best for them, and creates ease of access for employees. A lot of candidates and employees might make the decision to go work for an organization that supports charitable organizations. So, it’s important that companies show they’re giving back to the community.”
For HR pros who feel they can’t coordinate another thing, Lauby suggests they don’t have to. “There are opportunities to still give back to the community and let employees know you care.” One way to do that: Give employees a day to go support the organization that makes the most sense for them.
Cornelius recommends using technology to HR’s advantage. “Make it easy for employees to select an amount to donate to a charity from their paycheck,” he said. “The key is finding what works best for your business.”
Unconventional benefit #2: Professional development
It may speak to the state of the current labor market that employees are seeking out companies that offer professional development as a benefit.
While most employees do want to get better at their jobs, not all employers do a fantastic job of promoting their professional development opportunities, noted Lauby.
“I know for me personally, I’ve negotiated professional development in offers, like I want to go to this conference or I want to get this certification,” she said. “Not only is it great because you know you have an employee who’s looking to advance their career and willing to work hard to get that certification or go to that class, but it also tells the employee that the company is going to support them in their career.”
And professional development benefits don’t have to be internal. You can offer an internal management or leadership program, but you can also create a strategic partnership with a local university. “Also, allowing employees to come to you and tell you what programs they’re interested in or pitch ideas … can also be a valuable way to promote professional development,” said Lauby. “So, there are lots of different ways organizations can talk about career development and help employees gain more knowledge and skills.”
And professional development happens at all different levels of an organization, not just the younger generations. There’s upskilling or reskilling for veteran employees.
“Many employees see professional development as a must have in order to commit to a company,” said Cornelius. “Without new and engaging forms of professional development, employers could lose top performers and lose out on those top tier candidates they’re trying to recruit as well.”
Unconventional benefit #3: Midday exercises
Health related offerings are at the core of traditional benefits packages. But it includes more than just health, dental and vision. To really attract qualified employees in the labor market, many organizations are expanding their well-being offerings to give employees easy access to healthier lifestyle choices. In return, businesses get healthier, more engaged employees.
There are the traditional options like offering gym memberships, but companies are also doing things like holding walking meetings, or Paycom has a desk yoga program. “It’s a free 30-minute zoom class, and an instructor leads employees through different poses you can do from your desk,” said Cornelius. “It’s nice because it adds an accessibility element, because you don’t have to get out of your chair or go anywhere. It’s voluntary, and a great way to recenter and refocus if you’ve had a busy day or a stressful meeting.”
Lauby noted that she has an under desk elliptical that she uses if she’s watching a webinar or reading. “I can sit and pedal, and get some exercise at the same times.”
Sitting is the new smoking so any opportunities employers can take to give employees some activity in their day is a win for all. And employees are looking for employers that help them make their lives easier and healthier.
Offering more than just your basic benefits options really helps keep your top performers in house! “It also sets your organization up to secure the next generation of talent, as well as enhance your employee experience overall,” said Cornelius