As the economy improves, increasing employee satisfaction is becoming more important, according to a recent research report released by MetLife. The report, “Building A Better Benefits Program Without Breaking The Budget,” identified five steps employers should consider in order to build competitive benefits programs and help improve workplace satisfaction.
According to MetLife VP, Scott Beck, “As the U.S. economy emerges from recession, there are big expectations for small businesses to provide the engine that will drive the American economy. Retaining top talent and increasing employee job satisfaction are two strategies that may help small business employers face this challenge successfully.” The first step is to keep employees satisfied by re-evaluating non-medical benefits such as dental, disability and life insurance. The study found that although 59 percent of small business employees say these benefits help increase loyalty, only 34 percent of employers recognize this. The solution is to emphasize benefits that are currently ignored by management but which employees care about.
Next, consider adding wellness plans, which not only increase worker productivity but also help contain medical costs. Partner with local health organizations who can educate employees on healthy behaviors, and give staff the chance to participate in wellness programs. A third step is to help increase staff feelings of financial security. Employees who feel more secure are the ones that are most productive. Offer retirement and financial planning sessions to workers during business hours, or set up online financial resources for them.
The MetLife study shows that 80 percent of companies do an ineffective job of telling employees about benefits. The fourth recommended step, therefore, is to remove jargon, try multiple channels, and make messages relevant to actual life experiences and stages. Simpler messages work better. Finally, the fifth step suggested by the research is to consider emphasizing work-life balance, using company culture to boost loyalty. Decrease burnout and stress by allowing such options as flexible working hours and casual dress codes.
The survey included 1,503 interviews with benefits decision makers. Of the interviews, more than 900 took place with decision makers at companies with fewer than 500 employees, and more than 500 interviews took place with employees who work for these smaller businesses.