It may seem that employers are constantly scaling back employee benefit plans – or worse, cutting them entirely — but that’s simply not the case. We were heartened to read a story in MSNBC that covered a report by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, which surveyed 58 of the 100 companies named to Principal Financial Group’s “10 Best” list and also interviewed executives from companies on the list.
Here’s what they found: despite the tough economy, firms in the study said they had maintained or increased their benefits packages, even raising some retirement contributions. While some organizations asked employees to pay extra for higher health insurance, most of them ate the increased costs.
Nearly all the firms cited a “strong sense of responsibility in providing benefits that protect the financial well-being” of employees and their families. How cool is that?
More coolness: those companies that provide employees with generous benefits are enjoying their own perks in return. Things like lower turnover, better customer service, enhanced recruiting, and longtime employees who remain engaged and committed. What better payoff can there be?
Three quarters of the companies polled reported that strong benefits contributed to employee retention and 72 percent said they boosted employee loyalty. Nine out of 10 respondents mentioned retirement programs and cited generous contributions to support their employees’ financial security. Many also provided one-on-one financial help for retirement planning and have added wellness programs.
Now that your HR hearts are warmed and your faith in corporate America is restored, listen for the sound of the other shoe dropping.
An ADP survey last December found that HR professionals believe that four in 10 employees don’t fully understand their benefit plans. The ADP Research Institute in Roseland, N.J. published this finding in the latest release of its HR/Benefits Pulse Survey. The quarterly report polled 501 private sector HR decision-makers about issues and trends related to communicating employee benefits.
They found that 80 percent of HR decision-makers believe employees must fully understand their benefit options, yet only about 60 percent of their own workers do. Even worse, the survey says 36 percent of large employers and 66 percent of midsized firms have no communications budget to share the benefits story with their workforce. HR folks at half of the companies say their budget hasn’t changed in the past year, and few expect an increase in the next one or two years.
So . . . we’re thrilled that companies are ponying up and taking care of their people. It’s a marvelous story and both sides are enjoying the perks. But how are employers going to reap these proven rewards when they don’t share the story with those who need to hear it most?