Here’s Why Employee Benefits Must Be Part of Your Business Strategy
There are many business owners with a thriving business setup who decide to sell their products on the internet. With a cool website, trendy products and a catchy name, they assume their success is guaranteed. Unfortunately, they forget one very important thing – a clearly articulated strategy.
They do no market research, polling or interviews to see if customers found it more convenient to shop online, and they don’t ask their existing customers why they buy their products or even if they like them. Even though their company is by most standards successful, they really don’t know why.
This particular story applies to the customer-facing side of the business. However, it can just as easily be applied to the employee-facing side, and it’s definitely important to do so.
Many employers are taken aback when asked about their employee benefits strategy, as they believe that simply providing benefits and paying the biggest part of the cost is enough. Many fail to consider benefits as a part of their overall business strategy. As a result, employers miss a unique opportunity to impact their employees in a way that has staying power. Employees – frequently the face of the business in customers’ eyes – are often the most important asset in client or customer satisfaction.
So how do you create a successful benefits strategy, and how do you seamlessly incorporate that into the overall business strategy?
Just as asking customers about your products can yield important information, asking employees how they feel about their benefits can add great value. Having a third-party benefits advisor conduct employee focus group meetings without human resources and management in attendance are particularly effective. Employees are much more inclined to give honest feedback in this environment of anonymity. Questions to ask should include:
What is your overall perception of the benefit plans? (Focus on health insurance but also dedicate substantial time to life, disability, dental, vision, etc.)
- How are you and your family using the benefits?
- How satisfied are you with the plan?
- What would you do to improve the plan’s effectiveness?
The answers are always constructive, positive or not, and are extremely helpful in formulating effective strategic benefit plans.
Additionally, asking employees to do a forced-ranking of a dozen employee benefits to determine what benefits are most important and appreciated often yields surprising feedback. For instance, health insurance is often not the most important benefit, thanks in part to millennials who don’t prioritize it. Therefore, too great a focus on the health plan may miss the mark, especially when your employees are more interested in student loan repayment help, personal cybersecurity or work-life balance issues.
Are your health care offerings competitive? Check out this report to find out.
Overall, an employer’s best bet is to design a benefits plan strategy that complements the business strategy. For example, if there are enough products offered in various price categories to customers, there should be a similar approach to benefits. If the company sells moderately priced, affordable products, it would be inconsistent to offer a benefit plan either at the top-of-the-value scale or at the bottom.
The first act of asking for employee opinions goes a long way in affirming a positive culture. Employee satisfaction, just like customer satisfaction, is the lifeblood of the business. And a full supply of lifeblood on both ends, just like strategy, is what’s needed to outrun the demons.