Group employee benefits: Just one part of the recruitment and retention quotient

Eileen Fogarty


There is no doubt that a robust employee health and welfare benefits program is key to attracting and retaining a quality workforce. There is a tendency, however, to design a benefit program without considering how it fits into the overarching framework of the employee experience—what well-informed HR professionals know as “total rewards.”

The traditional wage and benefit compensation model is so 1999. Today’s total rewards program takes into consideration how employees perceive their overall relationship with their employer. High-performing organizations don’t stop with a competitive wage and a nice benefits package. They factor in performance, recognition, training, career development and opportunities, and work/life balance. With this total rewards approach, the organization and the workforce work hand-in-glove to grow individual and corporate performance. If your goals include a happy, engaged and satisfied workforce and increased profits, remember that employee perception and business performance must feed from the same plate.

A total rewards approach varies from organization to organization. These categories aren’t silos; rather they are overlapping components of a larger plan:

  • Financial Protection
    Base salary; annual increases; 401(k) retirement; employer-sponsored life insurance; short- and long-term disability
  • Health Protection
    Health insurance; wellness and disease management initiatives and incentives
  • Associate Recognition
    Incentive programs; personal recognition in management communications
  • Career Development
    Tuition or certification assistance; learning and development programs
  • Work/Life Balance
    Flexible work scheduling; telecommuting; time off

How important are the aspects of a total reward program to employees? The MetLife 2013 Annual Survey of Employee Benefit Trends revealed that 79% of employees who say their employer enables a work/life balance are more satisfied with their jobs. In the same study, 54% prefer a greater variety of employee benefits, (i.e.voluntary benefits) from which to choose. In a 2012 survey, access to healthcare ranked first among critical benefits, but it’s interesting to note that vacation time ranked second in importance. Sixty percent of respondents to a survey by the American Psychological Association cited their employee benefits package as the primary reason they stay with their current employer.

What’s important to your employees? Start by asking. The more data you gather through surveys and one-on-one discussions (and the more suggestions you put into action), the more targeted and effective your total rewards program can be. Approaching your business within the total reward structure will help you identify the programs that will enable your organization to attract, retain and engage your talent.

The effort is worth it. When a valued employee walks out the door, so do all the hours of training and knowledge accrued on the job. It’s estimated that a new hire costs 1.5 to 3 times the salary paid. Therefore, your best move is to keep employees in place as long as possible by engaging them on a variety of levels every day of their workweek. It makes good business sense.


©2015 Corporate Synergies Group, LLC. No part of this material may be republished or distributed without prior written consent.
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    By: Eileen Fogarty

    Eileen Fogarty, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Corporate Synergies, operates as a trusted advisor to the firm’s executives and associates. She supports the company’s intense focus on client satisfaction by directing strategies to attract and retain the industry’s most exceptional benefits professionals. She is also responsible for the strategic planning, development and delivery of HR programs and services.

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