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Employee Benefits

Identifying and Resolving Gaps in Benefit Offerings

June 26, 2023

In today's competitive employment landscape, many organizations recognize that employees are their most valuable asset. But to attract and retain top talent, employers must go beyond competitive salaries and create holistic and meaningful employee benefits packages that address diverse workforce needs.

Understanding and addressing any gaps in employee benefits is crucial for employers who aim to create an engaged, supported and satisfied workforce. Well-rounded benefits packages often translate to enhanced employee well-being, boosted retention rates and a positive work culture.

Identifying gaps in benefits offerings can be a complex task, as it requires a careful assessment of employee preferences, trends and organizational resources. Consider the following strategies for identifying and addressing these gaps.

Review Existing Benefits

Start by reviewing the current employee benefits package. While taking inventory of benefits, assess if you offer the basics (e.g., health insurance, sick and family leave) or anything unique compared to competitors or other employers in your industry. This is also a good time to review benefits utilization to better understand if there are any benefits that employees do not or rarely use.

Analyze Employee Demographics and Specific Needs

Demographics, such as age, gender and marital status, can influence employees’ preferred benefits. Recognize that those needs can shift over time, so this is an ongoing exercise.

Gather Employee Feedback

Conduct surveys, focus groups or collect feedback through other methods to gather information and opinions directly from employees. Employers could inquire about employee satisfaction with existing benefits, what they value most and if there are any benefits they feel are missing from their package or that could be improved.

To conduct an effective survey, let employees know well ahead of time what to expect. Use emails, bulletin boards and company newsletters to communicate, and ensure all responses are kept anonymous to receive honest feedback.

Benchmark Against Industry Standards

Research industry standards and best practices to understand what benefits competitors and similar or local organizations provide. There is information available for almost any aspect of a benefits program, including total costs, cost-sharing measures, plan design, voluntary offerings, workers' compensation and paid leave. Benchmarking these and other data points can help employers identify any gaps in their offerings compared to competitors.

Explore Emerging Trends and Employee Preferences

Stay informed about employee benefits trends. Current trends include flexible work arrangements, mental health support and student loan assistance. This is also the time to consider employee feedback results and reported preferred benefits.

Related Reading: 2023 HR Trends and How Employers Are Addressing Them

Prioritize Benefits Based on Budget and Resources

While employers may be faced with a long list of attractive or preferred benefits, the reality is that they must also consider organizational finances and resources to determine the feasibility of new or different offerings. It may be helpful to prioritize the benefits that would have the most significant impact on employee satisfaction and overall well-being.

Communicate Changes Effectively

Effective employee communication is a vital aspect of the employer-employee relationship.

Employers should ensure clear and effective communication with employees when introducing or modifying benefits. Education is critical to utilization, so employers should clearly describe any changes, provide their rationale and explain how benefits changes align with employee feedback, emerging trends or organizational goals.

When communicating changes, it's important to balance technological channels with face-to-face contact. Channel options include:

  • Email
  • Videos
  • Intranet articles
  • Newsletters
  • Town hall meetings
  • Company or department-wide meetings

Monitor and Reassess

Benefits needs and preferences change over time, so it’s important for employers to regularly monitor the utilization and effectiveness of offerings. If drastic changes were made, checking in with some employees to gauge their feedback could be worthwhile. Lastly, please keep the conversation going with employees to keep a pulse on their preferred benefits and reassess available options to ensure they meet evolving needs.

Savvy employers continually evaluate their existing benefits, gather employee feedback, benchmark against industry standards and strategically address any identified gaps. By periodically reassessing benefits offerings, employers can ensure they remain competitive in the labor market and meet the evolving needs of the workforce.

By taking a proactive approach to understanding needs and preferences, organizations can create benefits packages that truly support current and prospective employees. This concerted effort can lead to increased workplace engagement and satisfaction, and, ultimately, organizational success.

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