How to Design an Employee Benefits Program That Will Attract and Retain the Best Talent


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Employee benefits play a vital role in attracting and retaining talent in the workplace. So how do you design an effective program that meets the needs of your employees?

Article 5 Minutes
How to Design an Employee Benefits Program That Will Attract and Retain the Best Talent

In today’s fast-paced society, employees expect more than just a paycheck from the companies they choose to work for.

Along with company culture and employer branding, benefits and perks are major drivers of satisfaction and loyalty among employees. In fact, 60% of people say that an organization’s benefits package plays a major role in whether or not they accept a job offer.

Companies must offer a well-designed employee benefits program to attract and retain the best talent if they want to remain competitive. Therefore, it’s vital that you take the time to formulate your plan carefully to ensure it aligns with your business goals and budget and satisfies the needs of your employees.

Here’s how you can strike the right balance between essentials, nice-to-haves and affordability when developing an effective benefits program.

Set goals and outline your budget

The first step in developing your employee benefits plan is to outline your objectives to ensure the benefits you offer align with your organization.

Consider how the benefits program will bolster your business strategy and enable you to better meet your employees’ needs. Ask yourself why you want to offer employees benefits and which areas you’d like to focus on, such as health and wellbeing or career and skills development.

When it comes to setting goals, it’s important to take into account the size of your business, the type of industry you operate in, your location and so on. Additionally, remember to be flexible as your benefits approach can change in line with your business. Some examples of goals include:

  • Improve employee wellbeing by offering a range of medical and mental health benefits
  • Promote financial security with affordable benefits
  • Offer employees a benefits program that protects them and their loved ones against the risks of old age and loss of health or life

During this step, it’s crucial to set a budget as this will help you to select the benefits that you want to offer and ensure the program remains sustainable moving forward.

Carry out a needs assessment

Next, you should conduct a needs assessment to determine the best benefits to meet your employees’ needs. This may involve looking into what your competitors are offering and asking employees what they would like from a benefits program through personal interviews, research or employee surveys. It’s important to remember that the latter is only effective if organizations use this feedback to inform the design and implementation of the plan.

If you already have a benefits plan in place, you may conduct a review of what you currently offer to gauge what employees are using and how frequently. Knowing this can help you to make informed decisions to save on costs moving forward.

It’s also essential to take into consideration the needs of different employee demographics. For instance, younger employees may value more time off or flexible work schedules, whereas older employees may be more concerned with having a good retirement plan.

Develop your employee benefits plan

Once the first two steps are complete, you can start developing your benefits programs by leveraging all of your data to formulate benefits based on priority and assessing these against your budget. You may need to refine your plan as you go along to ensure the right balance between benefits and costs.

Some of the most common benefits include:

  • Medical insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement plan benefits
  • Paid time off

Note that 69% of employees say that having a wide array of benefits would increase their loyalty to their employer. So, once you’ve chosen the core elements of your benefits program you may wish to supplement the offer with additional benefits like:

  • Mental health programs
  • Pet insurance
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Career and skills development opportunities
  • Wellness programs
  • Flexible working
  • Early finish on Fridays

When deciding which benefits to include in your program, remember to keep your goals and budget in mind. It’s also important to think ahead by considering whether the benefits are sustainable and meet the needs of various employee demographics.

Communicate the plan to your employees

So, you’ve outlined your benefits program and made sure all the numbers add up, what next? For your benefits plan to deliver its full potential on recruiting, retention and employee morale, it’s essential that you have a good benefits program communication plan in place.

Without employee buy-in, all of your efforts will be made in vain. For your staff to opt-in to your benefits plan, they’ll need to understand what they stand to gain and be sure that employee feedback is listened to and acted upon.

Although employers are required to give details about the benefits they offer, effective communication should go beyond legal requirements. You should provide in-depth information about the benefits on offer, explaining how these align with organizational and individual goals and encouraging employees to use them wisely.

Re-evaluate your benefits program periodically

As with any other aspect of business strategy, it’s vital that you review your benefits plan periodically to determine whether or not it’s meeting the needs of your organization and your employees.

The business landscape is constantly changing and it’s important to stay on top of shifting demographics and attitudes to ensure your benefits program remains appealing and effective.

Consider outlining different goals and metrics to assess your benefits plan and make any adjustments when required. Doing this will ensure you continue to satisfy your goals and objectives and satisfy your employees in the long term.

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