HR News Roundup - August 2017

family friendly benefits

Our monthly roundup of HR news focuses on employee recognition, caregiving benefits, mandatory vacation time, and more. Take a look!

Employee Recognition Causes Employers to Stumble

Recognition for a job well done should be a given...but at many companies, it doesn't happen nearly often enough. A recent Forbes article cited data from a Gallup survey that shows just one-third of employees in the U.S. receive weekly recognition or praise. And when employees aren't recognized for their good work, they're more likely to think about leaving. According to the author, it's a serious management problem, "because the fact is, the most valuable kind of recognition - the informal kind given from manager to employee - is darn simple. No rocket science here."

Stay Competitive with Employee Benefits

Employee benefits are key to recruitment and retention. And if companies aren't focused on what employees want, it can be hard for them to attract and retain. What's the solution? Tune into what the competition is doing, says SHRM VP Shonna Waters. "Much of the media's coverage of employee benefits is dominated by Silicon Valley," she told a SHRM symposium recently. But the flashy benefits might not reflect the situation in your industry - and those are the companies you're competing with. To stay on top of trends, she said, review your benefits at least once per year, and ask the most important resource - your employees - what they value most.

On Employees' Wishlists: Caregiving Benefits

When it comes to elder care, health and related costs are issues for employees as well as the aging parents and other people for whom they care. And employers are starting to realize the importance of supporting employees who are providing or facilitating that care. According to recent survey data cited in a SHRM article, increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and reduced health care costs are employers' top drivers for investing in caregiving benefits. When caring for parents, "Caregivers tend to abandon their own physical and emotional needs," notes Jeremy Nobel, executive director of the Northeast Business Group on Health's Solutions Center, "and employers need to plan for how to respond."

Vacation is a Must

Everyone needs a break every once in a while. But employees in the U.S. aren't using their vacation time. So, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article, one company decided to test out a mandatory vacation policy that required each employee to take off one of every seven weeks. If employees tried to contact the office during that week, they didn't get paid for their vacation. What happened? During the test period, productivity, creativity, and happiness all went up. It's not a fix for everyone, said the study's author.  But there is a moral: "Fix your vacation system. You'll be doing better, more important work."

Short-Term Financial Goals Matter

A recent Workforce article showed that younger employees are focused on short-term financial goals over retirement. But when it comes to employee benefits, many employers tout retirement plans rather than programs, such as student loan repayment, that address more immediate goals. The result is a big disconnect between employee needs and employer focus. A 2017 PwC survey suggests not only aren't these employees able to put money into retirement plans; a third of Millennials and Gen X are actually taking money out. "Employers need to broaden their financial wellness efforts," wrote the Workforce author, "and focus on saving money beyond retirement."  

Written by: Jeannie Krill

About the Author

Jeannie Krill at Bright Horizons

As a former Bright Horizons preschool teacher, Jeannie has seen what child care means to clients firsthand. She also offers a view from the Millennials camp, cluing us into what’s challenging today’s largest demographic, and what they really want. She holds a BA in Psychology from Valparaiso University.