Dear HR Executive:
Whoever said there's no free lunch, never worked for Google. Not only do you get free lunch and dinner - their gourmet chefs create a wide variety of healthy and delicious meals every day - they also offer snacks to help satisfy your munchies in between meals. You'll also find on-site doctors and free employee shuttle service. And did I mention free financial planning classes, on-site oil change, car wash, dry cleaning, massage therapy, gym, hair stylist, fitness classes and bike repair?
I can't think of many organizations whose benefits package is as cool as theirs. And that's perfectly natural. The reality is that benefits offered by a 300-employee manufacturing firm can't compete with benefits offered by one of the richest and most successful technology giants on the planet.
No matter where your organization is on the corporate food chain, have you taken a good look at your company's benefits package lately? Is it up to date, competitive, in line with (or better than) your competition?
If it's been awhile, maybe you should. It's one of the best culture-defining, recruiting and retention tools you'll ever have. Here are some ideas to get you started...
Almost 40 percent of U.S. employers' payroll now reflects the cost of employee benefits, according to the Society for Human Resource Management's 2007 Benefits Survey Report released a few weeks ago.
"Managing the cost of benefits is a major challenge organizations face today," says SHRM Survey Research Specialist, Shawn Fegley, the survey's project leader.
The following are highlights from the survey.
Key take-away: Employees consistently rate benefits as one of the key factors in job satisfaction. But a disconnect exists between the dollar amount organizations spend on benefits and employees' perception of the value of their benefits package.
"It is essential that you help your employees fully understand all their options and the true value of their benefits package," Fegley advises. "Total compensation statements, employee meetings and workshops are examples of communication methods that HR professionals and other company leaders can use so their benefits program is valued and used by employees."
A large majority of corporate leaders and HR professionals review their benefits programs at least once a year, the survey reveals. Organizations should review their benefits not only to monitor costs but also to evaluate the competitiveness of their program.
HR professionals can use benchmarking tools, survey reports and needs assessments to customize their benefits program to meet employee needs and to remain competitive. In addition, HR professionals should monitor changes in legislation to make sure their benefits remain compliant with local, state and federal laws and regulations.
Most Popular Benefits
Family friendliness. Three out of four HR professionals (75 percent) say that their organizations offer dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSAs). For the seventh consecutive year, this is the most commonly offered family-friendly benefit.
Other popular family-friendly benefits include life insurance for dependents (65 percent) and flextime (58 percent), which lets employees select their work hours within limits. Telecommuting is offered by 56 percent of respondents, and 21 percent make it available on a full-time basis.
Career development assistance. An overwhelming 96 percent say their organizations offer professional development opportunities such as seminars, conferences or courses, while 91 percent offer memberships in professional organizations and 78 percent pay for professional license application or renewal fees.
Retirement and financial planning. U.S. employers offer several types of retirement plans, including: pre-tax 401(k)-type defined contribution plans (83 percent).
Educational assistance. Two-thirds (68 percent) offer undergraduate educational assistance, and 65 percent provide graduate educational assistance.
Monetary bonuses. Overall, 63 percent offer some form of incentive bonus plans--60 percent offered the plan to executive employees and 47 percent to non-executive employees.
Prescription drug coverage. Prescription drug coverage is the most frequently offered health care benefit for the fifth year in a row, with 95 percent making it available. Mail-order prescription programs are offered by 87 percent.
Health insurance. Nearly all HR professionals (96 percent) indicate that their organizations offer some health care coverage, and 41 percent offer health insurance to part-time employees. Preferred-provider organization (PPO) plans are provided by 87 percent, while 48 percent offer health maintenance organization (HMO) plans.
An overwhelming 94 percent provide dental insurance to employees, and over three-quarters (79 percent) offer vision insurance. These programs may be part of or in addition to other health care plans.
Other forms of offered insurance include chiropractic insurance (80 percent), mental health insurance (73 percent), supplemental health accident insurance (49 percent), long-term care insurance (46 percent), intensive care insurance (40 percent), critical illness insurance (38 percent), cancer insurance (35 percent) and hospital indemnity insurance (27 percent).
Preventative health and wellness. The most commonly offered preventive care benefit is on-site vaccinations (62 percent), followed by health screening programs for conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol (47 percent).
Mental and emotional health. Employee assistance programs (EAPs)--providing confidential counseling to help employees with problems that may distract them from their work--are offered by 73 percent of respondents.
Source: The Society of Human Resource Management.