I’m the human resource manager at a five-year old company trying to rationalize the benefits package for about 140 employees. As of the moment, we follow only what the law requires us to do, like the granting of five-day service leave, maternity leave, among other statutory requirements. We’re planning to improve our package to help stem the tide of people from leaving the organization as our turnover rate has zoomed to 17% in the past two years. Please give us your advice. — Water Lily
One morning, a 50-year-old woman (let’s call her Ellen) is looking into the mirror and carrying on a conversation with herself. She says: “My face is changing. It’s not the same — definitely not the same. It has become older. Maybe if I parted my hair on the side. Maybe if I were to rub a little more moisturizer around each eye.
“A little different colored blush perhaps? Nope, this is it. I look older and there’s nothing I can do about it. I remember my mother’s face looking like this. I remember how the lines crept around her mouth and her eyes. Yes, it’s my turn now to take on the look of the mature, older woman.”
Ellen gazes intently into the mirror, and then shouts on top of her voice: “I’m not ready!”
Just like Ellen, you’re thinking of many options on how to solve problems, except that she can’t possibly turn back the hands of time. In your case, however, you can manage the 17% attrition rate by improving your company’s benefit package, among other strategies. It’s difficult, but not impossible.
To minimize, if not eliminate issues against your program, the most important approach is to anticipate worker complaints. And to do just that, here are some ideas that you can do, one after the other or simultaneously, depending on your management capacity and sense of urgency:
One, conduct an employee morale or satisfaction survey. That’s the first thing you should do as long as it covers majority of all employees and it is done anonymously, voluntarily, complete with demographics and departmental assignments. Whatever is the result, it should help you understand the reason or reasons why people leave their jobs. You may be surprised that the reason may have nothing to do with the company’s benefit package, but due to something else, like the workers’ difficult relationship with their bosses.
Two, analyze industry benchmarks and standards. If you’re in the manufacturing sector, you can’t simply copy the best practices of banks, telecom firms or business processing industries or vice versa. When people leave their jobs, normally they go to competitors, if not to allied companies. This alone is a good reason why you should be on alert for the pay and perks package of similarly-situated organizations. If you’re confident that your company offers above-industry rates, then educate your employees on how pesos and centavos are being spent on the benefit package in addition to their basic pay.
Three, offer a flexible benefits package. You can take the cue from the results of your morale survey. This is important since the employees have different needs and wants, depending much on their age, marital status, or related demographics. Even a comprehensive medical plan may be of less importance to young workers compared to workers who are nearing retirement. It doesn’t mean however, that if you have 140 employees you will provide 140 different types of benefits to each one. You have to be creative.
Four, give employees discounts for company products. This is particularly beneficial in certain industries like those offering basic consumer goods and pharmaceuticals. The banking industry offers employee loans that charge only minimal rates for housing, cars, and home appliances. In certain cases, some companies allow qualified and meritorious employees to use company amenities and facilities. To some extent, I know of certain auto car manufacturers allowing the use of vehicles for personal use during weekends, subject to certain rules.
Last, develop a review process to ensure success. Change is constant. It can happen anytime. This is a good reason why you must be attuned to the changing tastes of people, if not with the competitive offering of service providers like those in the health maintenance category. Subject to the provisions of the law on non-diminution of benefits, your management must be aware of the many changes that are happening in your industry and elsewhere and make necessary adjustments as you see it fitting.
In terms of educating the workers, you are always on the front line when it comes to human resources. Therefore, you should take every proactive effort to gather information that helps management and workers understand their benefits package, not limited to monetary value, but taking into account zero-cash equivalents as well. And when I talk of zero-cash motivational strategies, I mean paying close attention to how your line managers are treating their workers.
ELBONOMICS: The way your workers feel is the same way your customers feel.