Maxing Out on Your Company’s Benefits
The challenge for those of us in HR is not only to keep track of changes in benefits, but also to communicate those changes to employees (without confusing them, ideally) and even to get benefits to work to our advantage, while retaining key employee talent and keeping an eye on the bottom line.
Here are a few steps you can take to make sure your company is getting the most out of its benefits package:
1. Make sure your employees know – really know – how great they’ve got it. When your engineers are being wooed by startups with deep pockets, you want to make sure they understand that paychecks aren’t everything – perks count, too. (For instance, how many of your employees could guess the cost of their monthly medical premiums?) We make it a habit of presenting employees with Total Benefits statements, which are individualized and demonstrate the total value of their non-salary compensation, including the amount you pay to cover employee premiums, investments made in development and training, and even the value of vacation, holiday, and sick days. These can also provide an opportunity to build the HR relationship with employees – if the size of your staff allows, schedule five-minute meetings to review the statements, and you’ll gain new insights into employees’ questions and concerns. (See #3.)
2. Grow with your employees, and understand their needs as they evolve. When I first joined Vibrant, about six years ago, most of our employees were in their mid-20s. Many were single, few had dependents, and our benefits package reflected their lifestyle, for the most part. Needless to say, that’s changed dramatically. More employees are married now, more have families, and we need to constantly reassess our coverage and solicit employee feedback to make sure we’re addressing the priorities of our overall population.
3. Keep communication channels open. Make benefits part of the regular conversations that managers have with employees, and employees have with each other. Consider putting together a monthly or weekly email blast that highlights a little-known fact about your benefits, or answers a question that your team frequently hears from staff. You might want to save surveys for large-scale benefit audits – I’ve found they can unnecessarily skew expectations – but make sure your staff is listening to employees at all times.
4. Build events and programs into your strategy. Employees sometimes don’t realize that happy hours, pantry snacks, and water coolers are part of a deliberate effort to make the workplace enjoyable. Market these to employees as you might to prospective recruits, and make them part of your conversations about why it’s great to work where you do.
The important thing is to remember that benefits are dynamic: The landscape is always changing, as is the population we’re serving. While maintaining an internal focus – communicating regularly, listening closely – we also need to keep an eye on the horizon, reading professional newsletters and reaching out to peers to maintain an understanding of policy changes and industry trends. After all, perks aren’t just for employees – when they benefit, the business does, too.
About Kristina Nakanishi
Kristina Nakanishi is VP of Human Resources for Vibrant Media, the leader in contextual advertising, which was founded in 2000. As Vibrant has experienced tremendous growth over the past five years, Kristina’s team has helped increase employee headcount 260%. Kristina splits her time between her hometown of San Francisco, CA, and New York City, where Vibrant is headquartered. View all posts by Kristina Nakanishi.
Vibrant (www.vibrantmedia.com) is a world leader in contextual technology aligning billions of words across the Internet with relevant video, information, tools, and advertising. With over 6,000 premium publishers, reaching more than 250 million unique users per month (comScore, 2011), Vibrant gives top brand marketers the opportunity to deliver highly targeted advertisements within premium Web content and offers publishers premium editorial tools to re-circulate users throughout their websites. Vibrant works with top brand advertisers such as Microsoft, Unilever, Chrysler and AT&T. The company was founded in 2000 and has offices in London, New York, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, Hamburg, Munich and Dusseldorf. Vibrant's rapid growth has been recognized by the Inc. 500 and Deloitte Fast 50 lists. For more information, www.vibrantmedia.com or www.hyperlinkevolved.com or www.facebook.com/vibrantmedia or http://twitter.com/vibrantmedia.