What is your company’s differential value?

Business owners today face a bevy of challenges when it comes to attracting and keeping their employees

When it comes to attracting and retaining quality employees, business owners today face a bevy of challenges.

The juggling act required to manage wages, control healthcare costs and engage employees has never been more complicated or important. The ability to communicate clearly to employees what sets their company apart has become a big hurdle, not only with a new hire, but also on an ongoing basis. In turn, companies are getting creative by communicating pieces of their employee benefits program throughout the year and not just at open enrollment.

In our culture of constant engagement, discussing what sets their employer apart more frequently results in increased employee knowledge and understanding. An annual review of benefits has become the norm, but companies looking to highlight their differential value are engaging their employees more frequently and on a personal level.

A typical employee may hesitate to air out personal finance issues or health issues with their respective employer. We have found that providing one-on-one access to licensed, professional benefit counselors has increased employee engagement and understanding drastically.

Based on more than 75,000 benefit counselor surveys taken between 2008-2017, 98 percent of employees say understanding their benefits is important and 90 percent say they want convenient access to a benefits expert face-to-face conversation.

Communication must be a priority for companies looking to set themselves apart. If employees do not fully understand all the employer is doing for them, what is keeping them from leaving when they hear about a slightly better wage opportunity elsewhere? These counselors not only advise them on their benefit options but can highlight for the employee their total compensation package. A personal touch, emphasizing how great their company is and offering key advice on how to best utilize their employee benefits package.

As the millennial workforce continues to grow, we are seeing a big shift in the way employees think about health care. A recent study shows that millennials are shifting away from the traditional primary care doctors and utilizing other forms of care. With healthcare costs on the rise, incremental changes to major medical plans are not moving the needle when it comes to attracting quality candidates and keeping them long term.

Taking steps to create a more attractive total compensation plan has become a priority for companies looking to differentiate themselves from competitors. The voluntary benefit industry has blossomed in recent years as employers are seeking ways to enhance their benefits package. An article written by the JP Griffin Group highlights some key points: “Many benefits consultants are not suggesting that employees be given choices about their benefit packages or that packages be tailored to individual situations. This kind of flexibility will greatly enhance the value of the benefit package for employee recruiting and retention.”

One thing we have found to be successful is an annual planning meeting with the decision makers of an organization to strategize and discuss changes in the marketplace, versus a single touch approach. Getting a game plan in place for implementation and around more frequent one-on-one engagement will ensure your employees notice the lengths you are going as a company to provide them the best possible total compensation. In a competitive job market, these strategies can make all the difference in defining your company’s differential value.

Derek Thurston is a worksite benefits broker specializing in voluntary benefit solutions. He has five years industry experience and spent four years as a professional benefits counselor at Colonial Life. He was awarded Level 3 Elite Enroller status for Oregon/Idaho territory in 2016. He now focuses on providing solutions for companies and employees alike.