In a recent newspaper article, I was impressed to see a local supermarket chain being commended for its efforts towards its employee’s well being.
Despite being a small and local setup, this supermarket chain was able to provide a host of benefits (such as bursary for employee’s children, education and renovation loans, etc.) targeting at the very needs of its employees.
One could argue the effectiveness of such personalized benefits and even the amount of work that goes into administrating them. However, to the employees benefiting from such schemes, it’s a different story all together. The schemes had helped them directly in improving their daily lives.
Looking back on my own career, and the different phases of my life, I realized that I myself have very different needs over time. Those needs had determined the career choices I’ve taken, and even right down to the way I’ve negotiated my contract with my employer.
As such, it became more and more of an urgent need for organizations today to rethink their benefits framework. I’ve always felt that an organization’s benefits framework contributes to the very soul of that organization. How well you take care or “not take care” of your employees may not be that clear for all to see, as many a times, the benefits components are buried in a ton of policies and webpages, making it hard for employees to make sense of it all. However, this doesn’t mean that employees are unaware of what’s there.
It is a very interesting observation that employees care more about the very components that directly affect them at that very moment. Thus, if it’s there, it’s good. If it’s not there, it’s bad. Just like in the story about the “blind men and the elephant”, employees would describe their experience based on what’s immediate to them.
Therefore, designing a framework that caters to everyone in the organization becomes more complex than rocket science. It is hard to imagine how there can be a one-size fit all solution. Thus, a flexible framework becomes so much more relevant in today’s context.
Since different benefits components means different things to different employees and candidates at different point of time, it makes it hard to put a dollar value on what that is worth.
A lot of times, we tend to take a simplistic approach to how much is spent provisioning for those components, however this is a case where a dollar spent does not equal to a dollar value.
Having worked with my fair share of candidates, designing an offer that makes sense to the candidate you want to attract to your organization is an art.
Personally, I find that candidates coming from organizations with creative benefits structure hardest to attract. These candidates tend to negotiate on 2 fronts, making sure that not only the cash components are attractive, and also the benefits components are not lacking.
On some occasions, where it’s not an apple-to-apple comparison, it is amazing to see that the candidates do tend to get creative in putting a dollar value on the benefits that they will be forgoing in the move. Making the final cash expectations to go through the roof.
This frustrate the hell out of staffing folks, especially those whose hands are tied in being flexible with what they can give and what’s not within their control.
Turning the table around, if the benefits structure in your organization is out of this world and creatively crazy. Coupled with a relative attractive compensation philosophy and nice corporate culture. Oh boy, I would love to see how anyone would be able to pry that employee away from you without paying through their nose.
Would love to hear your thoughts on what are some of these creative benefits that you feel is relevant and how they can help improve the way you attract and retain your best talents.