Why Employee Benefits? We Need to Treat our People As Well as We Treat Our Machines

investing in employees

Imagine you had a piece of manufacturing equipment that turns out vast amounts of your product per day.

But with improvements in technology, you discover the same piece of equipment could run even better with an upgrade that would reduce the time it takes per assembly, and turn out considerably more product per hour.

Would you do it? Of course. Such a retrofit would not only be considered essential, the cost would be considered less an expense than a capital investment for the company.

The question is...why don't we think about employee benefits and supporting our people in the same way?

There are any number of evolving HR tools that have proven returns for human capital. But somehow the thought process around them is that they're an inconvenient expense versus an investment.

And that's sacrificing some valuable ROI:

Saved workdays

Three quarters of employees with children told us they missed a day of work to care for a child, an even larger percentage in the sandwich generation said they missed work to care for families. The cost? An average of 26 billable hours per employee. The flipside: people with back-up care have worked up to 9.5 days per year they otherwise would have missed.

Superior performance

Parents work better when they're not worried about their children -- 95% of employees say child care from the company helps them focus on the job. How important is it? As one employee put it bluntly: "If it [child care] goes, I go."

Avoided skills gaps

Tuition assistance is so effective at filling empty positions, one hospital put its education program under talent acquisition. And one of their hardest-to-fill positions has had the lowest vacancy level seen in seven years.

Increased engagement

Career development lights people's fire, so much so that Glassdoor calls it a primary reason people stay -- or leave, saving the estimated 21% of annual pay it costs for replacement. Bonus fact: it's one of the three elements that make up a Dream Company.

The above are hard returns to argue with -- and just a few of the many rewards of a robust approach to supporting your people. Yet  too often that support is considered an extra -- "a nice to have" that goes squarely in the "expense" column of our ledgers. But the "benefits" aren't just to employees.

The truth is, people aren't machines. But like machines, investing in people helps them work better. Employee benefits are how you do that.

It begs the question -- why wouldn't we want to support our people at least as well as we support our machines?

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.