Layoffs. Pay cuts. Hiring freezes. Leaner compensation packages. Higher employee benefit contributions. They’re all part of the harsh reality of doing business in the recessed economy. Companies struggling to maintain financial health over the past two years have imposed these practices on a workforce so desperate for job security that they don’t dare complain.
Now that there seems to be a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel in the form of modest economic recovery, companies will once again need to make difficult choices: Reward employee performance and loyalty or risk losing their best talent to a more competitive job market. According to MetLife’s 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends:
“This year’s findings reveal a workforce that has grown more dissatisfied and disloyal, to the point where one in three employees hopes to be working elsewhere in the next twelve months. Yet employers do not appear to be tuned in to this potential flight risk. Focused on the challenging business environment, employers remain confident of strong levels of employee job satisfaction and loyalty. A loyal and satisfied workforce is part of the foundation of business growth. Widening cracks in this foundation may force employers to pay a price in reduced retention and productivity when the job market improves.”
Benefits, it seems, cannot b
e viewed purely as a cost or a necessary administrative evil. The study reveals that a company’s benefits offering is a strategic tool in maintaining employee loyalty, productivity, and retention. And there’s more to the story—different generations view benefits differently. Offerings valued by baby boomers—such as retirement benefits aimed at financial security—may not be equally appreciated by millennials, who tend to value flexible work environments aimed at greater work-life balance.
Some other issues addressed by the study, which can be downloaded here, include:
- Impact of health care reform on employees’ perception of health benefits
- Importance of balancing benefit cost considerations with employee satisfaction
- Effect of financial stress on employee health and productivity