At SSA, we believe our employees aren’t just people of our workforce or roles to complete tasks, but instead human beings with specific needs and unique passions. With that in mind, we prioritize our benefits program to showcase that commitment to our employees’ whole-self well-being. And we’re not the only ones!
We spoke with cultural institution leaders across the country about the shifts they’ve seen in benefits over time (from increased PTO for part-time employees to alternative family resources), as well as how they’re working to prioritize their own employee benefits program to meet changing expectations.
Below are five key takeaways from our conversations to better approach your own benefits programs this year and beyond.
1. In terms of recruitment, benefits are equal to compensation.
In order to stay competitive, cultural attractions should pay attention to how employee benefits are gaining momentum in recruitment efforts. While compensation has traditionally been the primary focus, job seekers are now placing a greater emphasis on the benefits package offered by potential employers. Cultural attractions that provide attractive, personalized, and robust benefits are more likely to stand out in the competitive job market and attract top talent, signaling the shift from compensation being the only focus in a candidate’s job search.
“Listen, for new employees, benefits MATTER. They make a real difference in whether or not a quality candidate will take a job with us. Because of that, we’re really looking into a variety of benefit options that are attractive to potential candidates. I can also see companies becoming more “responsible” for benefits costs and anticipate company coverage of premiums moving closer to 90%-100% covered by the employer.”– John Ford, Human Resources Director, GLMV Architecture
“Even benefits that may seem small, like our free bus pass program, have a huge impact on the lives of our employees.” – Jeff Walton, Director of HR at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
2. Evolve your program to accommodate a more “whole-self” approach to health.
Employees are now looking for benefits that go beyond traditional offerings like healthcare and retirement plans. These days, they are seeking perks that address all aspects of their lives, including mental health, financial wellness, and work-life balance.
“We have continued to innovate our offerings to meet this mutually desired holistic approach to “Total Well-Being” by adding new benefits, resources, and training to help employees in all phases of their life, both at work and at home. As examples of this, we are now providing Dave Ramsey SmartDollar financial wellness platform for free to all employees, eliminating mental health co-pays, adding free joint replacement surgeries with Beacon Ortho, and adding PTO for part-time/seasonal employees.” – Jeff Walton, Director of HR at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
“We moved away from just offering the traditional benefits and that mindset to offering benefits that help them achieve a healthy balance in work and life. We partnered with a forward-thinking broker that is helping us shape our program to meet those changing needs. The goal is to advance our benefits to be truly “beneficial” to our employees and their families on multiple levels.” – John Ford, Human Resources Director, GLMV Architecture
3. Don’t be afraid to offer up more non-traditional perks.
Employees appreciate the more unconventional perks just as much as the traditional ones. Offering them benefits like pet insurance, free public transportation passes, a stipend for a monthly book order, or family planning goes a long way in showing your company recognizes they have a life and goals outside of work. They also often cost little or nothing to the employer to include for your employees!
“We continue to look for ways to support our employees, wherever they are in their lives. Focusing our lens on how we can be more inclusive as it relates to our benefits, we recently added gender-affirmation and fertility coverage as well as adoption assistance plans.”– Jeff Walton, Director of HR at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
4. Measure and evaluate the success of your benefits program.
A benefits program is only as good as it’s being utilized. It’s important to check in on the success through various methods, whether with engagement surveys or other targeted feedback, to measure employee well-being and gather insights on the effectiveness of each program. This helps identify areas of improvement as well as make data-driven decisions to deliver the benefits that actually matter to your employees.
“We measure specific metrics like turnover rates and manager effectiveness, through ongoing surveys and exit interviews. We also make sure that our benefits are easy to understand, and that employees know they are there and how to access them. We do this through consistent internal communication and educating managers to also encourage their employees to utilize them.” – Crystal Evans, Director of People Support, SSA Group
5. Continue to innovate into the future.
Even if you are offering a competitive and holistic benefits package, continue to search for ways to improve upon it as time goes on. Opportunities around expanding benefits for non-salaried roles, and employee assistance programs (counseling, financial planning, educational resources) are just some of the ways you can look into doing so.
“We will keep looking outside to learn what innovative and effective options there are, to see if they make sense here and align with our goals. We don’t just want affordable benefits, we want them to be outstanding, best-in-class for our employees and their families.” – Jeff Walton, Director of HR at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
A great example of this innovative thinking around what our employees not just want, but really need is a recent benefit SSA Group added to our benefits roster:
“We’re excited to start offering access to earned but unpaid wages for our team members in emergency situations where they can access their earnings before the end of a pay period. This kind of flexibility shows trust in our employees and speaks to the family values we are proud to offer them.”- Jason Stover, VP of People and Culture, SSA Group
Building Better Benefits from the Inside Out
Benefits have evolved from a nice to have, to a need to have for most employees. And what those benefits are has also expanded. Evaluating your own program and making small tweaks over time based on employee feedback and trends in the industry will help make you a more competitive employer to potential candidates and an organization your people enjoy working at.