Companies are facing a barrage of challenges: a 20-year high salary budget, higher health care premium costs, and record-breaking inflation. Couple that with workers who are demanding higher pay, increased flexibility, and better benefits…and you have the perfect storm for HR stress.
While the state of the economy is always in flux, these new worker demands aren’t coming out of nowhere—and they aren’t going away. They’re the result of decades of unrest, fueled by the rapid global transformations of the past few years. So how do you begin to face this unmoveable trend?
Start by reassessing workers’ needs and rethinking your benefits package. Let’s explore how you can tailor your benefits and offerings to meet worker demands without adding another line item on your budget—or passing on higher costs to workers.
1. Listen to your workforce
Experts point out a widening gap between what benefits employers are offering and what employees actually want. You can have the best intentions in the world with workplace benefits, but if what you’re offering isn’t aligned with the needs of your workforce, what’s the point? The harsh reality is that there may be benefits or perks you’re currently spending money on that your employees don’t find useful. Take time to collect honest feedback from your workers on what benefits they value most and which ones they’d like you to offer. You can hold an open forum, ask them to submit an anonymous survey, or message you privately with their thoughts.
Their responses may surprise you; maybe that discounted access to a health club isn’t moving the needle on employee satisfaction as much as you thought, but a more flexible PTO policy could. You may find that what employees are seeking can be solved with free solutions; and you may be able to ditch pricier benefits that aren’t as meaningful.
2. Don’t think of benefits in silos
It’s tempting to view different categories of workplace benefits as totally separate offerings. But the truth is, financial benefits, health benefits, and mental health benefits can all work together to provide meaningful support to your employees. For example, workplaces are increasingly identifying the link between financial health and mental health. According to PwC’s 2022 Health and Wellbeing Survey, among financially-stressed employees, 49 percent said financial stress had a severe and major impact on their mental health this year.
What financial health benefits could you employ that could impact your employees’ mental and physical health, too? One example is a free benefit like earned wage access, which allows employees to take an advance of their own earnings ahead of payday if needed. This alternative to predatory payday loans or high-interest credit cards can help employees bridge the gap between paychecks without incurring more debt or financial stress.
3. Look for free benefits to offset increased costs
Regardless of industry, you’re likely facing increased costs from multiple angles while simultaneously trying to anticipate the needs of your workforce in the years to come. Things like health benefit premiums are on the rise, with seven in 10 employers expecting significant increases in health benefit costs over the next three years. But as more Americans struggle to pay their bills, you can’t pass on the rising costs of benefits to your employees—unless you want to deal with increased turnover (which also comes with a price). So what can you do? Look to add benefits that are free for both your company and your employees.
New Worker Expectations Aren’t a Flash in the Pan
It’s tempting to think that workers demanding more from their companies is a momentary fad; but it’s not going away anytime soon. Companies who invest in their workers will create workers who invest back into their company—and you have the power to make it happen. It may not be feasible to make these changes overnight, but you can make significant progress by engaging your current workforce with the benefits they actually want, taking into account how different types of offerings can work together to influence one another. Listen to what your workforce needs and explore options that are free and meaningful for everyone involved. As a result, you’ll foster growth that helps your company scale while protecting the bottom line.