Want to keep staff happy? Customize benefits, MetLife says

Standard benefits are no longer adequate to attract and retain top talent (Image oatawa / iStockPhoto)
Customization of benefits may soon become the norm. (Image: oatawa / iStockPhoto)

Employers are finding that customizing benefits can go a long way toward keeping staff happy and eager to stay aboard. In what may be the wave of the future, companies are taking this approach with increasingly frequency, customizing benefits for different age groups.

“Employees increasingly see work as an extension of themselves and that personalized options—for professional development, work schedules and employee benefits—go a long way toward building loyalty and trust,” said Todd Katz, executive vice president of group benefits at MetLife, in a statement.

When it comes to financial wellness, “customized benefits attract talent,” Katz said.

The ability to customize benefits to meet employees’ needs remains a high loyalty driver and is a greater recruiting advantage than the ability to work from home (73% vs. 65%), a MetLife benefits survey said.

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Trending upward from 2017, 6 in 10 employees—and 69% of millennials—report they’re willing to pay more to have benefits choices that meet their needs, up from 52% a year ago.

One of their biggest needs? Financial wellness. Eighty-four percent of employees describe financial wellness programs (planning, education, workshops, tools) as offerings they want or need.

Yet only 18% of employers currently offer them. And fewer than half (43%) of workers believe their employer understands their personal financial pressures—down from 54% last year—showing a missed opportunity for building connection and trust, Katz said.

Eighty-seven percent of workers whose employer enables them to manage life in/outside of work are more loyal and satisfied. Nearly three quarters (72%) report that having the option to work remotely is important to their work/life balance.

And offering a flexible schedule—something 74% of employees say is important when considering a new job—builds loyalty, Katz said.

“It may make sense, especially as companies find themselves in a tight labor market, to begin offering benefits that speak to the priorities of their workers,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a statement.

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Challenger, Gray & Christmas’ own benefits study shows young workers value student loan repayment options, but only 23% of companies are currently offering this aid, while 73% plan to offer it in the future.

Meanwhile, workers who want to start a family may value money for fertility treatments. Facebook, Apple, and Google offer egg-freezing benefits for their female workforce, while Starbucks offers IVF coverage to workers, including part-time baristas.

For workers with children, money for college, larger amounts of paid time off, or unlimited vacation time and onsite child care would be of value. While these benefits are not widely offered, in the case of time off, the cost could be minimal to employers, Challenger said.

As workers get older, so do their parents, which means older workers might look for programs and benefits that would help them support their aging parents. As the United States population continues to age, this will only become an increasingly sought-after benefit, the study said.

“If a company keeps the total worth of the compensation the same, but simply rearranges the shares of the benefits, costs of providing these programs could be comparable,” Challenger said. “Also, by focusing on employee needs, the company may be able to reduce turnover, which will in turn reduce costs overall.”

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