Low Cost Benefits Can Boost Employee Morale And Loyalty

Laying off personnel, reducing salary increases, eliminating 401(k) matches and other benefits cuts seem to be the norm. These takeaways have a direct impact on your workforce. Morale may be low, and employees may look for other job opportunities, especially as the economy starts to recover. One solution is to consider offering low- or no-cost benefits.
Voluntary programs
Sales of voluntary, employee-paid insurance products sold through employers have increased significantly over the last few years. Voluntary benefits allow companies to offer something in return at a time when economic and business conditions are challenging.
When implemented successfully, voluntary programs can be an effective supplemental benefit for both employees and employers. Survey your employees to find out what they want, compare vendors, actively promote the benefits and solicit feedback.
Flexibility programs
A rapidly shrinking talent pool, coupled with increased work/life pressures and a more diverse, global and independent workforce, have prompted an increasing number of companies to offer flexible work arrangements as a way to attract, retain and engage talent. Most companies, however, do not have the structure or support in place to maximize the value that these programs can provide.
According to a 2008 Hewitt Associates survey, of those companies who offer flexible work arrangements, almost all (98%) believe the benefits of the workforce programs match or outweigh the costs associated with implementing them.
But very few employers have formal and consistent policies and procedures in place to manage these programs. The Hewitt research reveals that just over one-quarter (27%) have companywide, formal written policies, and almost the same percentage do not formally communicate to employees the flexible programs they offer.
In addition, 71% do not measure the effectiveness of these programs. The majority of companies offer programs on an ad hoc basis, with flextime (31%), job sharing (46%) and telecommuting (39%) being the most prevalent. Part-time work is the most likely program to be offered companywide, with 36% of employers doing so.
Less than half (48%) provide education and communication about their flexibility programs to all employees, with 31% saying they wanted to limit the use of these programs, either because their company culture has not yet fully embraced widespread use of them or because they are concerned with the logistics of having too many employees using the program. Another 69% said they do not provide broad communications so that programs can be offered at manager discretion.
Here are six effective tips in creating successful flexibility programs:
1. Survey your employees. Find out what interests them and match up their interests with appropriate flexible arrangements.
2. Tie to corporate initiatives/priorities. Try linking flexibility to company initiatives like diversity or gender.
3. Develop written corporate policies. Expectations and guidelines are important components of any endeavor. State these clearly and share them with all involved.
4. Train management. Management buy-in and participation are critical to the success of these programs. Offer incentives to maximize management’s involvement.
5. Measure and refine. Gather input on your progress from employees, managers, the community you’re working with, as well as any others who are involved. Make program changes based on feedback.
6. Reward and recognize. Seek informal and formal avenues to tell your team that they’ve accomplished a great task. Highlight successful flexible arrangements.