Employers that provide and market comprehensive benefits packages improve employee performance and productivity, attract new workers and boost worker job satisfaction.
"Even though there is still high unemployment, there is still tough competition for top-shelf talent," said Robert Ferrone, market vice president, broker sales, Aflac, during a session at the 2012 Benefits Forum & Expo in Phoenix. "We found that those workers who feel the company took care of them by offering good benefits in turn took care of the company by working harder and being more productive."
According to a Research Now survey of 6,100 workers and 1,800 HR decision-makers and employers, the top HR business challenges were controlling health care costs (61%), increasing worker productivity (40%), and retaining employees (34%).
"It's usually a last resort to replace an employee with all of the resources and money that went into training them and sourcing that employee. So not only is retaining employees good for productivity, it helps lower costs as well," said Ferrone.
Substantial health care and retirement benefits can give employees the peace of mind they need to focus on their jobs, instead of worrying about issues outside the office.
Overall, the workforce is financially unprepared. Only 29% of employees feel their goals and dreams are financially protected, a similarly low number (28%) feel prepared for retirement and 46% don't feel prepared to pay out-of-pocket expenses.
"Most employees are one paycheck away from not being able to pay their mortgage or car payment. Most people live paycheck to paycheck in this society and are not financially prepared," explained Ferrone.
Workers feel the same anxiety with their health care coverage: only 44% feel protected by their current insurance coverage.
Better job, better benefits
Ultimately, if employers don't provide employees security in benefits, they will seek other employers that do. In fact, 49% of employees said they are likely to look for another job, which may mean they are looking for better benefits.
"In today's workplace, 61% of employees are likely to accept a job with lower pay but better benefits," Ferrone said.
Further, job satisfaction also correlates strongly with employer-provided benefits packages. Of employees who were "extremely" or "very satisfied" with their benefits package, 73% reported job satisfaction. This number plummets to 33% for those who are "not very" or "not at all" satisfied with their benefits package.
And benefits dramatically impact the company's bottom line as well.According to employers of large-sized companies, 40% of employees are experiencing health issues that have affected their ability to get their work done.
These employees may still punch the clock to receive pay and benefits, but they are not fully productive employees if their health issue, or that of a family member's, distracts them.In fact, 22.1% of work productivity is lost due to concern about personal issues, which quantifies to 17,680 hours per week of lost productivity, Ferrone noted.
By providing comprehensive insurance coverage, employers allow the individual "to focus on the healing part," not the financial or benefit details, said Ferrone.
Even though 92% of employers say their company communicates effectively, only 38% of employees believe that HR communicates effectively about benefits. "This really illustrates the disconnect from the HR perspective to what employees are saying," said Ferrone.
Further, 56% of employers say their employees need to be more engaged, whereas only 9% of employees think they need to be more engaged.
"In a roundabout way, [employers are] putting the responsibility back on employees," explained Ferrone. However, he added, employees don't share this perspective - they simply use and apply the information available to them.
Good benefits communication can also help retain employees. The Research Now survey finds that 44% of workers said a well-communicated benefits program would make them less likely to leave and 45% say the HR department communicates about employee benefits too little.
The cost of not consistently communicating the employee benefit package is the financial burden of losing employees because they don't appreciate the offerings, which adds to turnover costs.
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