From big organisations to small, all companies are facing one common question: how to keep our employees happy? The answer to this is not simple, but it is all about understanding the needs and expectations of the employees.
Charles Darwin brought forth the theory of biological evolution, which stated that all species arise and then develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations increasing the individual's ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. The mechanism of this natural selection is termed as ‘Survival of the Fittest’.
When I first thought of growth and evolution of employee benefits, survival of the fittest is what came to my mind. It has two connotations to it - survival of the best employees as well as long-term sustainability and evolution of the of the fittest company.
We might look at these two aspects being independent, but today, companies are the fittest when they can not only retain their best employees but also make the other employees fit by training and nurturing them and aligning them to the larger picture, the vision of the company.
Initially, wages were the only benefit that was offered to the employee. Gradually, rewards and recognition became critical and, now, as the companies have realised the value that an employee brings in, this field has evolved manifold. Now employee benefits consist of many statutory benefits like gratuity, pension, PF, leaves as well as other benefits given by the employer, which extends upto flexible working hours, medical and health insurance, wellness sessions, recreational facilities etc.
Organisations have realised the importance of nurturing talent. They are now more aware that their show can go on only as long as the people (employees) are there to run it and even one erroneous employee benefits strategy could rattle their ship into troubled waters. Hence, taking care of employees is an important part of business plan and strategy.
We are in the midst of a digital transformation and employees are exposed to more and more information. With the innovation and increasing complexity in the employee benefits space, each organisation is competing to be the best work master in its domain.
Employees are also bombarded with information on media about ‘the best companies to work for and why?’, and companies to share their employees’ achievements on social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. Employees are sharing their achievements on social media as well, boasting about their job benefits. This leads to a sense of insecurity and dissatisfaction with the employees, especially when their expectations are not met. And not to forget, employee needs are fast changing and they are constantly looking for more.
Digitisation also has made job hunting easier. Finding a new job is now a matter of few clicks. Also, given the close-knit world and communication, it is easier for the companies to hunt good talent and acquire them.
So how does the company ensure that their employees are safeguarded? The answer is simple, understand the expectations of your employees, and align their expectations with the vision of the company.
Employers who provide retirement benefits should develop a communication strategy to raise awareness of the benefits and their values.
Flexi-benefits allows employees to choose the benefits they want or need from the various benefits offered by an employer. These plans may include health insurance, retirement benefits, and reimbursements that employees can use to pay for out-of-pocket health or dependent care expenses. In a flexible benefit plan, employees contribute to the cost of these benefits through a deduction in their salary before-tax, thus reducing the employer's contribution. In the short term, companies obviously benefit from sharing costs with employees. But a business may also choose to cap its future contributions to benefits by passing along increased costs to employees through these plans.
In a nutshell, there is no one key mantra of creating a best-suited employee benefits scheme. Companies and their decision-makers need to understand that there is no single solution-- the concept of one-size-fits-all cannot work. Employers need to be flexible enough to adapt their policies as per the employee’s needs depending on various factors like age, location, and understanding of issues. Else, the employees might not prefer or assign the same value to certain benefits. Strategic reviews and analysis of benefits can be used to help confirm the appropriateness of a particular initiative or indicate the need for an adjustment before any decision is taken.
Also, it is a myth to fulfill all the expectations of the employees. Then how can a company still ensure that the employees are productive, satisfied and happy? Well, the success lies in bridging the communication gap between the management and employees and being open and innovative in the approach. The organisation needs to be flexible with their benefit plans and probably even customise it as per the requirement of the employees. Flexi benefits, by and large, are being accepted well by both the employees and the employers, and it will evolve further.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)