The Benefit of Doubt: Are your employees getting the right benefits?

The single most effective tool to keep a close check on attrition is to have a comprehensive benefits plan for all employees

Updated: Mar 5, 2018 01:52:35 PM UTC
Image: Shutterstock


The days when most employees would literally stay in the same company till they hit the grave are long left behind and is nothing more than a memory and anecdotes often shared by our parents and grandparents. Today, it is considered an achievement if one is able to retain employees even for a couple of years. There are many factors that lead to employee retention, however the single most effective tool to keep a close check on attrition is to have a comprehensive benefits plan for all the employees.

According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, it was found that almost 79 percent of employees gave more importance to the perks and benefits a given company has got to offer as opposed to their salary. This factor is growing in its importance to also influence the career decisions of prospective talent. The survey inferred that specifically two sets of demographics were found to be particularly more interested in these benefits – namely women and millennials.

The most-valued benefit of most employees is the provision of healthcare and health insurance along with post retirement pension and health benefits. Other kinds of benefits include paid time-off, performance bonus, paid sick leave, work from home options, free lunches, development programmes, tuition reimbursements, employee discounts, equity, wellness programmes, childcare assistance, and so on.

While companies like Google are well known for perks such as lunches cooked by professional chefs, yoga classes, biweekly chair massages and so on, not every company may be able to emulate this level of luxurious perks for its employees.

Therefore, it is important to fully understand parameters such as costing and the amount of liability these various benefits package may bring with them. The right kind of benefits need to be decided keeping in mind the culture and finances of the organisation rather than by just rolling out populist benefits that may look attractive.

In the current Indian business context employee benefits can largely be categorised into three components. The first type of benefits are those that benefit an employee from the long-term life investment perspective. A huge chunk of income goes towards spending for individual and family health, childcare, education, buying a house, repaying loans and paying taxes. Monetary relief either in some or all of these aspects could go a long way in retaining employees.

Today, life isn’t getting any easier for people. Although there is extreme progress in technology which has made a lot of tasks easier, it has equally resulted in an ideology of doing more things at one time leading to an overall rise in expectations from human abilities.

We live in a time where everything is possible and nothing is difficult, leading to a lifestyle constantly threatened with competition. In such circumstances employees need to feel safe and secure at their workplace and get around their daily lives hassle free.

A great office space with comfortable seating, free lunch and snacks, flexible working hours, flexible deadlines, unlimited leaves, absence of dress code, et al, frees up a lot of mind space which employees can then redirect to more productive things at work.

An average person spends more than half of his/her time at the workplace and employers will have to make sure that the time they spend in here is worth their while. We all want to be part of a community and fulfill our desire to belong. Companies, in order to foster this, can arrange team activities, events, collaboration among different departments, learning and development programmes, certification programmes, showcasing each other’s talents.

Facilitating a social network to create a feeling of belonging and to provide a platform to let individuals interact, engage and make new friends is beneficial for both the organisation as well as its employees.

Apart from these benefits, most companies today are also getting innovative with the kind of benefits they throw out to engage and retain employees. Google is probably the most well-known name when it comes to maintaining and encouraging its inhabitants’ quirks. They usually have exciting and fun stuff to do. Most organisations could also go in for benefits such as providing a sabbatical to travel, take a break to raise families, complete education. Other benefits to provide would include paternity benefits to fathers where they get nearly equal number of leaves as the mother is entitled to. This only helps in not letting women bear a brunt with respect to their careers and also give an opportunity to help fathers bond more with their children. Most companies do not even consider paternity leaves in the first place. There is also a fraction of companies that allow women to take an off or work from home on their days of menstruation. Employees at the end of the day want to feel respected and understood. It is an appreciative gesture to show empathy for the people who work for an organization and this is what people essentially look for.

Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor opines that money alone does not buy happiness for too long. He has spent many years analyzing and trying to understand what drives job seekers to choose their work, what about workplaces matter to them most and what causes them to love or hate their jobs, companies and managers. One of the most striking results from his research has been that across all levels of income groups, compensation is not the sole indicator to job satisfaction. More than 250 years ago Adam Smith had warned that material gains make us less happy. The best benefit any organization can give its employees is most often intangible in nature. It lies in the culture, values and most importantly the attitude with which the leadership takes the organization forward. While a good pay package can help in acquiring good talent, research shows that it is unlikely to retain them unless there is a real investment in positive culture and values which create career pathways and allow people to build something that they are proud of.


The Most Desirable Employee Benefits By Harvard Business Review 4 in 5 Employees Want Benefits or Perks More Than a Pay Raise By Glassdoor
What Matters More To Your Workforce Than Money By Harvard Business Review
Does “Bettering Our Condition” Really Make Us Better Off? Adam Smith on Progress and Happiness By Cambridge

By Asif Upadhye, Director, Never Grow Up ®

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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