Perhaps through no fault of their own, employees are often in the dark as to how much employers contribute to health care and other expensive benefits. Closing this knowledge gap remains key to engagement and retention, experts say, in addition to making sure employees take full advantage of their offerings.

To that end 89-year-old retailer Ace Hardware has implemented a program called Total Rewards with software firm Infor. A supplemental web-based service to their standard benefits platforms, Total Rewards offers Ace employees a comprehensive look at everything that is included in their compensation, aiming to show workers the whole picture, because many only consider their base salary.

Jimmy Alexander, senior vice president of human resources and organizational development at Ace, says “the average tenure at Ace Hardware is beyond 15 years for the 800 employees at corporate” so even though turnover and engagement are not considerable problems, they wanted a way to show their workforce literally just how much they are valued.

“We wanted to make sure that everything that we provide to our employees becomes more visible to them, and also visible in the sense that they can see everything from one location, and that’s what led us to the concept of this Total Rewards station,” Alexander says. “When you look at all these [offerings] and add them all up, it’s a pretty healthy environment for our employees in terms of their entire benefits package.”

When employees sign in, they can see, among other visual aids and educational tools, a pie chart that breaks down every benefit that Ace contributes to: their salary, of course, but also their health care, defined contribution match, incentive opportunities, and even their vacation time – are clearly itemized so their annual salary isn’t the number that sticks in their heads. And the program is completely customizable for employee populations, for subgroups and for individuals with their ever-shifting insurance costs.

“There were no major changes; there were no major enhancements,” Alexander says, so the company didn’t have to reinvent the wheel to get this going. “It was about our ability to get it in one place and also get it online where they can view it on a consistent basis.”

Find out more about Ace Hardware’s Total Rewards program in the Sept. 1 issue of EBN.

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