Using Benefits Software to Become an Employer of Choice
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By Dave Foxall
Benefits Administration Software Attracts and Retains
The talent wars show no sign of letting up. Recent Universum research revealed that 71% of young professionals were interested in changing employers, while 72% had applied for a job in the previous six months, and 26% were looking to move jobs within the next six months. These statistics highlight the odds stacked against employers when seeking to retain their talent, but the situation is little different when looking at talent acquisition: a recent Financial Times survey suggested that 50+% of U.S. employers experienced difficulty filling positions in 2011. In this context, attaining (and retaining) the title of ‘Employer of Choice’ or EoC is no mean feat and organizations are looking for every conceivable strategy to stay competitive and gain the upper hand in attracting, motivating, and retaining talent. A CareerBuilder study showed that EoCs are defined by how they leverage advantages such as "more effective recruiting, lower recruiting costs, improved quality of candidates, more engaged employees and lower turnover". And academic studies (from Michigan State and Wisconsin-Madison Universities) found that EoCs have better financial results than companies in the broader market.
Where things become interesting is in the finer details of the differentiating employer practices that can make the difference between employer of choice and ‘employer of last resort’. The Universum study mentioned above highlighted that one of the stronger elements of the employer brand that can be leveraged to both attract and retain employees is an organization’s benefits administration software strategy-a technology-focused approach that can pay dividends.
Benefits Technology Leverage Point #1: Multiple Generations in the Workplace
The 21st century workplace is seeing up to four generations working side by side and various studies and surveys have established that in terms of personal values and career drivers, one size definitely does not fit all when it comes to employee benefits. Employers are being forced to consider a new, segmented approach to their benefits offerings, creating broad “total reward” or “total compensation” strategies in order to maximize the appeal of their reward packages. A large part of the answer to managing such differing demands within a single workforce is flexible benefits technology, bringing functionality that is the perfect antidote for this multi-generational reward challenge. Flexible software allows employees to adjust their pay and benefits packages to suit their own generational preferences. For instance, Generation Y employees (usually less interested in wellness initiatives) can sacrifice health insurance in favor of more mentoring opportunities or cash alternatives. On the other hand, Baby Boomers (who generally have a stronger preference for financial advice and planning services) can forego less tangible (and less valued) alternative benefits in favor of elements that support a secure financial future.
Benefits Technology Leverage Point #2: Easy Access to Information
Both at the point of talent acquisition and for existing employees, it is important that the full breadth of the reward and benefits package is clearly understood. Particularly at a time when average salary increases are being set below rates of inflation, employees must take into account the full value of their organization’s benefits spend. Employee benefits software can provide each employee with an online total reward statement (TRS): an on-demand, real-time and up-to-date itemized statement showing the individual elements of their benefits package and their monetary value. These total reward statements can help employees realize the true value of your reward offering and enhance the organization’s attractiveness as an employer. This is supported by research from consulting organization LIMRA, which showed that 62% of employees "valued employee benefits as most important when considering two job offers with equal salaries". Within these same rankings, benefits also came in above job stability and paid leave.
Benefits Technology Leverage Point #3: Employee Self-Service (ESS)
The Society for HR Management 2011 report, Transforming HR Through Technology states, “Although there are multiple ways that an organization can pursue an e-benefits approach, underlying each of these is the use of employee self-service (ESS).” On-line TRS access and flexible benefits with multi-generational appeal can realistically only be delivered via ESS. This core feature of the majority of current employee benefits technology enables employees to access and manage their HR information through a web browser, often even providing off-site mobile channels. In a 2011 interview, Howard Nelson, who leads HR Outsourcing Business for IBM Europe cited self-service as a key HR practise that supports the achievement of employer of choice status.
Final Remarks on Leveraging Benefits Technology for Employer of Choice Status
Put simply, there is a correlation between organizations that achieve high rankings in surveys of the best places to work and ‘best-in-class’ business performance. This correlation stems from the capacity for more effectively attracting and retaining the top talent. Furthermore, studies show that remuneration – i.e. pay and benefits – is considered to be one of the key determinants of employer attractiveness. The use of key employee benefits technology features such as employee self-service, online total reward statements and flexible benefits packages is a fundamental part of any employer of choice’s compensation strategy. So, the next time you start thinking about how you’re going to approach the C-suite with a compelling business case for an open enrollment application, consider what we’ve just laid out. After all, wouldn’t these elements provide one of the strongest arguments you could ask for?