The following post comes from Bright Horizons Marketing Manager, Sean McCarthy.
Earlier this year, our CHRO Maribeth Bearfield talked to benefits leaders about the new realities of HR.
“The world of benefits is about to explode,” she said to nodding heads in the conference audience. “We have generations who come into the workplace saying, ‘I want more, and the only way I’ll stay is if you give me more.’”
That reality was on clear display at the World at Work Total Rewards conference where sessions talked about what it will take to survive the current talent market.
Among the top takeaways:
Customized is king: A one-size-fits-all rewards program doesn’t fit anyone – not with four generations of employees under our roofs. And attraction and retention, said the aptly named “Strategies to Retain Critical Talent in a Tight Labor Market” session, will require approaches that respond to individual needs. Among the essentials: focus on career progression – something prioritized by employees. And make sure to nod to personal responsibilities. “Findings suggest programs and policies that support Work-Family Balance,” said presenters, “are of utmost importance.”
Talk to ALL of your employees: Corporate is only one segment of your workforce; Harley Davidson reminds us we need to reach frontline employees, too. Major organizations across industries have already done so, upping their benefits to compete for frontlines, and raising the stakes for everyone in the process. As with all programs, an employers’ individual success will come from responsive benefits that can both address employees’ challenges and reach them where they are.
Deal with education debt: New student loan data is out – and it’s downright depressing. A third of employees are working unfulfilling jobs just to pay back debt; an equal number say debt is keeping them from their field of study. No surprise many would pledge loyalty to companies willing to pay some of that of back; more than a third would commit five years. But there’s growing interest in guiding families on the front end, too – detouring children’s decisions before they become five or six figures of future debt. Expert guidance (negotiating for more financial aid; choosing price over college brand name, for example) could be game changing. As the presenters put it, “The most fundamental financial wellness assistance companies can offer is knowledge.”
Last but certainly not least was a focus on pay – specifically pay gaps between genders. There’s much work to do here. But we know a key element will be retaining working mothers who might otherwise opt out if the intersection between career and parenting becomes untenable.
All of the above will require HR people willing to look at benefits in a new way. As Maribeth put it to our own conference, “How will you begin to change and adapt the benefits in our world in a very disruptive era right now?”
Organizations that adapt fastest have the best opportunity to thrive.