With the unemployment rate dropping to 3.6 percent - the lowest rate since December 1969, and the U.S. job market the tightest it has been in half a century, human resources managers are struggling to attract and retain top talent. While some businesses, like JPMorgan Chase & Co., Amazon, Costco and Walmart, have bumped paychecks, Glassdoor’s Employment Confidence Survey found that 4 in 5 employees would choose additional benefits over a pay raise.
Companies like Asana, Capgemini, Pinterest, Spotify and WWF are stepping up their game with a wide range of sweet-perks, which include executive and life coaching services, flexible vacation policy, employee assistance programs, and weekly happy hours. Such benefits can be an excellent way to retain top talent, and attract the cream of the crop. But an often overlooked aspect of job perks is the impact it has on the lives of employees. Some value tangible rewards such as bonus, and some value intangibles such as mentoring. Some perks may be low cost and easy to implement, while others may not.
But here is the challenge – how do employers create the most competitive benefits which service their true purpose – to attract, retain, reward and engage with top talent in the market? Most employee benefits and perks do not come cheap and costs can snowball as your company expands. The first step in creating a competitive benefits package which will be valued now and in the future is by understanding the kind of job perks employees value.
Building a competitive benefits package represents a significant investment. Like any investment, companies must set clear goals for what they want to achieve. In a remarkable interview with The HR Digest, Capgemini North America’s Head of Talent, Kate Savage, discusses the value of promoting employee well-being through innovative and cost-effective initiatives.
The HR Digest: How has the concept of employee benefits and perks changed over the years? Tell us more about the initiatives at Capgemini.
Kate Savage: For our company, people benefits and perks have evolved over the years from static retirement, health and welfare benefits to providing Capgemini teams with comprehensive support that helps the integration of meaning in their work and personal lives that drives the workforce of the future. Younger candidates entering the workforce are particularly attracted to employers that deliver versatile benefits that support them and help them integrate their professional and personal lives. After all, careers happen in the context of the lives we’re living.
Capgemini provides an environment of continuous learning to help our people keep their skills aligned with the market and provides a path for professional development and promotion. We offer comprehensive medical and retirement benefits that provide financial protection to our team members and their families. We also offer benefits flexibility in the options we provide to make it easier for our people to make decisions that save money on large and small purchases, buy their renter’s, homeowner’s and car insurance, or select legal or identity protection, or even to help our people protect their pets. We provide all our team members with a robust Employee Assistance Program that helps individuals address personal issues but also provides resources for self-improvement, financial counseling and free visits. We recently added benefits to support our working families including back up child care, infertility benefits and paid parental leave.
Our experience is that candidates value benefits that reflect their values for corporate responsibility and diversity. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) bring colleagues with common interests together from across the country to advance our culture, people policies and experience. Last year, close collaboration with our OUTFront group led to the adoption of transgender benefits, and Capgemini’s first-ever achievement of a 100% ranking on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Responsibility Index.
The HR Digest: What would you say is the most effective non-cash motivator?
Kate Savage: Investing in your talent – beyond salary and performance bonus is key. It is the nature of our business that our people are in a continuous state of learning and development. The nature of disruption in the industries we serve means that our people need expertise in the hot skills the marketplace is demanding, and they also need to be ready to deliver on the emerging technical solutions that are coming in the next 18-month cycle.
There is a common misconception that the changing workforce doesn’t value benefits like retirement and other standard employee benefits, but that is not true. Studies have proven that they place a high value on benefits that are tailored to their specific circumstances and age: that includes Training and Development benefits– and, especially, self-development in areas they find interesting, perks around recognition, family friendly policies, and flexible work arrangements, as well as socially conscious policies.
The HR Digest: How can SMBs with limited resources integrate employee benefits and perks?
Kate Savage: I think there are many non-cash incentives that are associated with experience, recognition and culture that are often stronger motivators than cash for candidates. We recognize our Capgemini teams in meaningful ways have proven to be powerful tools in creating loyalty and engagement to our company. Remember that one of the things people value most is being recognized – and there are many perks that companies can put in place that don’t have a direct financial impact on the company – things like having clients sell to your employees at a discount or establishing a point system where managers can give recognition to employees real time.
The HR Digest: What common employee benefits and perks mistakes do you see organizations making?
Kate Savage: Companies need to have resonant messaging on benefits as a key talent attraction, retention, and engagement strategy. Many companies treat benefits as a core HR function but don’t really incorporate it into their unique talent transformation strategies. Within this, the two biggest mistakes are – 1) not transforming your benefits packages quickly enough based on your changing culture, or more importantly, the aspirational culture you want to attract and retain; 2) not constantly being aware of your market and how competitors are using benefits to attract, retain, and engage their talent.
Many companies fail to communicate routinely with their employees to create awareness and remind employees of their options and how to find them. Multi-channel communication works best for a diverse workforce. Your employees won’t value the benefits they don’t understand.
The HR Digest: How can you calculate the ROI of great employee benefits?
Kate Savage: While it can be difficult to quantify a true ROI of great employee benefits and capture all the impact a benefits program has, we have found retention is a solid starting point to identify impact. We also evaluate our benefits compared to other firms in our industry and listen to what our people tell us about the benefits they value. We want to support our teams in integrating a meaningful work/life balance and we think employee benefits that are created through that lens support our teams in achieving the professional and personal growth objectives.