Hiring? Make Sure You’re Offering Benefits That Top Talent Actually Want.


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When I talk to small and medium business owners about their recruiting challenges, I often think of an adage you’ve probably heard.



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If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

How does this apply to benefits? Well, if you offer benefits that don’t resonate with employees, will those benefits help you attract and retain employees?

The answer, of course, is no.

As a busy business owner, it’s easy to create a set-it-and-forget-it benefits package. But before you know it, it’s out of date. This approach may have worked in the past, but today the needs of people and the workplace are constantly changing.

Related: 5 Hiring Strategies You Should Use in a Labor Shortage

More and more employees desire fully remote or hybrid situations. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Life expectancy has increased, leading to longer retirements. Current and potential employees want flexibility and adaptability.

Companies are listening to this message about their profits and their workforce. Almost 70% of companies have increased, or will soon increase, the quality of the benefits they offer. And 65% have or will soon add benefits that they don’t currently have, according to Principal® research

If you want to do the same to attract and retain top talent, here are three steps to get you started.

1. Listen and adapt

So how do you begin to figure out if the benefits you have are what employees want? And if they aren’t, what can you do about it? Listening is a good first step.

Related: 6 factors that determine how much to pay remote workers

For example, 47% of employers are interested in adding a benefit in the next 12 months, but almost twice as many, 72%, of their employees would like an additional benefit in the next 12 months, according to the main research. This is a huge perception gap and one you can address through workplace surveys, Q&A sessions and discussions with team leaders. You may find that you’re offering benefits that no one wants, or that you already have options, such as an employee assistance program (EAP), that no one knows about or understands.

2. Get a clearer picture of cost

You also may not have an accurate picture of what the benefits employees want actually cost. Sometimes, getting your packages right can mean adding options where employees pay most, or all, of the cost. Then what you’re really providing is access so they can find the benefits they need most.

Take Bob’s Red Mill, for example. Several years ago, the whole foods company and the main customer added a number of lifestyle benefits. Employees have access to tuition reimbursement, a scholarship program and an adaptable vacation “bank.” This robust benefits package responded to what employees said would make work a better and more enjoyable place to come to every day.

Related: How your board should guide your hiring practices

3. Review, compare and adjust what you have

You can gain insights by regularly listening to your employees. You can also implement a consistent review of the benefits package, such as every year, that includes both trends affecting benefits and what the competition is doing. Each piece of the puzzle will help you stand out in this competitive hiring landscape. That way, you’ll make sure you’re always offering the benefits employees want, and a tree never falls on your workplace without you feeling it.

Bob’s Red Mill is not a subsidiary of any Principal Financial Group® company

This subject is intended to be educational in nature and is not intended to be taken as a recommendation.

©2022 Principal Financial Services, Inc.

Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co (except New York) and Principal Life Insurance Company®. Plan the administrative services offered by Principal Life. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., member SIPC and/or independent broker/dealers. The reference companies are members of Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.

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