Employers get creative with benefits to attract top talent

August 8th, 2017

By Bridgett Hernandez | KPC News

With an unemployment rate of 2.6 percent, the competition for good workers is hot in northeast Indiana. In an effort to up their game, some employers in the region are getting more creative in their benefits offerings to attract talent.

Employers in some pockets are trying new things in response to the unemployment and labor participation rates the region is experiencing, said Edmond O’Neal, president of Northeast Indiana Works.

“There are definitely enticements that are being offered that weren’t there two years ago,” he said.

While some employers are exploring wage increases, others are looking at offering things like profit-sharing bonuses, providing or increasing 401(k) matches or considering tuition reimbursements.

Some employers may be offering potential employees the chance to take advantage of vacation time sooner, said Lisa Mungovan, owner of Mungovan HR Consulting LLC and a member of the board of directors for the Northeast Indiana Human Resources Association. Rather than having to wait 60 days, 90 days or six months, employees may be offered an increment of vacation after 30 days of employment.

Vacation time holds different levels of importance for different workers, she said. For an older candidate with several years of experience who might have lost their last job due to a plant consolidation, vacation might play an important role in their decision making. That person might have had two to four weeks of vacation time in their previous position.

For younger candidates with families, vacation time might be just as important, she said. Additionally, a young, single candidate may look for vacation time for travel and activities outside of work.

Ensuring convenience

Employers are also taking a second look at the insurance options they offer potential employees, said Patrick Sullivan, executive vice president of insurance brokerage company Hylant Group’s Fort Wayne office. The office serves clients in a two-hour radius, ranging from companies that have 10 employees to companies that have 2,000 employees.

Employers are putting an emphasis on flexibility and convenience when it comes to their insurance offerings, he said.

“People are over-scheduled — soccer games, little league games, school programs. The last thing they want to deal with is an insurance agent coming to your house at night to talk to you about life insurance or disability insurance or car insurance,” he said.

People are looking to their employers for help when it comes to negotiating better rates, and employers are allowing employees to check off some of this paperwork on the clock.

“As an employee, you think it’s better to work at my company because I’ve just made your life easier. I’ve made your insurance purchasing easier,” he said.

Another trend in insurance purchasing is that employers want to offer potential employees more flexible benefits. Some employers are scrapping one-size-fits-all packages for options that employees can pick and choose to suit their lifestyle.

“What clients are asking us to do is design almost like menus. I could have a 30-year-old and I could have a 60-year-old and what they are looking for could be entirely different,” he said.

Besides offering medical, dental and life insurance to their employees, these clients are letting employees opt for car insurance, homeowners insurance, renters insurance or even pet insurance and giving them the option of letting them deduct it from their paycheck.

“Maybe in your situation, you don’t need medical because you’re offered it through a spouse. What’s really important to you is pet insurance and putting money back for someone’s college,” Sullivan explained.

So are offering flexible and convenient insurance options helping to attract talent? It’s too soon to say, said Sullivan, but right now some employers are willing to experiment.

A meaningful offer

One thing businesses should be cognizant of is that individuals have different drivers when it comes to choosing one position over another. An employee may be willing to commute one hour, one way, every day, if the position is in an industry in which they want to work or where there’s an opportunity to advance.

Mungovan said that job seekers should consider additional forms of compensation that may not have a monetary value to the candidate.

“When I’m coaching people on their job search, I encourage them to consider total compensation,” she said.

Examples may include the company culture, she said: “Do they respect and value the individuals who work for them? Do they emphasize safety and quality? Do they offer training and development? Are there opportunities to participate in community improvement events that are sponsored by the employer? Are there discount programs to select vendors that the candidate would see as a benefit?”

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