Better Benefits, No Headaches, Lower Costs
2022 Must-Have Employer Strategies From 22 Strategists
2022 Must-Have Employer Strategies From 22 Strategists
The start of a new year has always signified the chance to reset intentions and goals, both personally and on an organizational level. As leaders step into a new year, it’s become clear that the uncertainty brought on by a lasting pandemic is here to stay – at least a while longer.
As a result, employers face a steep rise in resignations, brought on by changing employee and customer priorities, an increased responsibility to address employee mental health and financial wellbeing while confronting the demands of a digital transformation has accelerated the pace of change in workplaces across industries.
Still, there are companies and leaders that seem to have figured this out. They’re building resilient organizations against all odds. In taking a closer look, there are several key takeaways that every company can apply to their strategy over the next few years.
We asked 22 workforce and HR, benefits, retirement and wealth strategists to offer one simple takeaway for leaders – and received a FEW more responses than expected:
Business Practices & Innovation
- Be Open. Open to new solutions, ideas and opportunities, employee feedback, and open to being more hands on with employee engagement to drive a well-informed and inclusive culture. – Lindsey Knapp, Benefits Consultant, Southeast region
- If I had to choose ONE piece of wisdom to offer leaders in 2022, it would be to embrace innovation, value the small wins and build connection through empathy. Remember that your employees aren’t just a number, and that they are people. Embrace each individual employees strengths and don’t compare to the next. - Amber Bushaw, HR Consultant, West Region
- “Never stop learning. Businesses and people don't move forward by staying in their comfort zone- outside the box is where real progress and innovation happens!" Emily Bailey, Connecticut Managing Principal, New England
- Level-up with benadmin tech. If you are tired of chasing paper applications and termination forms (and I am willing to bet your employees are), talk to your broker/consultant about getting on a benefits administration solution. Whether you are seeking an all-in-one benefits, HR and payroll platform, or want to bring-your-own payroll or COBRA vendor, there is a tech solution out there that fits the needs of your business regardless of its size. Depending on your carrier mix, you can consider switching to carriers that have API or EDI feeds in place with specific benadmin platforms, which gets you and your employees out of paper forms entirely, and speeds enrollments in the process. -Holly Forest, Vice President of Client Services, Enterprise region.
- Define your business. The idea of a company vision or value statement isn’t enough these days. Company “culture” is discussed often and has real business implications. Thriving companies in today’s environment not only have a solid foundation on what the company stands for, but also an understanding of what is important for their people. As economic and regulatory uncertainty continue to dominate the conversation of U.S. employers, the focus has been squarely put on an organization’s ability to remain competitive—all while weathering an era of disruption and transformation. Employees expect their employer to do the right thing; in business transactions, in giving back to their community, in education and training and in supporting them as individuals with the ability to affect the organization’s bottom line. – David Hill, Senior Client Executive, OneDigital Greater Pennsylvania/Northeast
- Companies that will succeed are those that can navigate and adapt. Let go of previous work ideologies and let your workforce guide you into the future. – Melanie Hoobler, Sr. Manager, HR Consulting, West Region
- Thriving companies are being true to who they are (culture) while also evolving with the changing environment. – Jim Schade, Principal, Senior Benefits Consultant, Northeast Region
- Have a strong foundation with clear vision. Adopt flexibility with employees and creative, out of the box approach to employees and business design. Strong HR support and health education to employees to understand costs and savings. – Erika Branch, Client Executive, Northeast Region
- When you have talented people in the right roles on your team, trust them, listen to them and remove any obstacles that can get in the way. The sky is the limit when teams feel empowered, supported and have the desire and commitment to win. - Mike Ward, Senior Managing Principal, MA, New England
- Recognize your employees’ strengths and encourage them. – Wendy Green, Senior Account Manager, Northeast Region
- Focusing on creating well rounded employees, not only in the workplace but also in their personal lives, providing increasing learning opportunities both personally and professionally. Taking care of their people. – Nick Gerber, Principal, Client Executive, Northeast Region
- My best piece of wisdom for Leaders is that when you allow a great deal of flexibility while the job is getting done, you will get even more out of your employees. Employees are so grateful for the opportunity of flexibility in their schedule that they will end up giving MORE of their time than expected as a result. – Sarah Kilbane, Senior Account Manager, Northeast Region
- Evaluate your workforce needs by listening to your employees. If you want to compete on talent you really need to understand what makes them thrive. Providing a cohesive and user-friendly benefits platform, with value adds specific to their needs, shows that you care about your employees on a personal level. People want to know they are taken care of from their hire date to their retirement date. - Travis Power, Senior Retirement Consultant, Midwest Region
Change Management & Communications
- Embrace change. Change is constant and more than anything the pandemic has brought about changes in the workplace and how everyday business gets conducted. Employers that are thinking outside the box to recruit and retain the best employees will continue to succeed. - Matt Mink, Managing Principal, OneDigital Greater Pennsylvania/Northeast
- Make decisions affecting staff/sales a little quicker. - Chas Pires, Principal, OneDigital Greater Pennsylvania/Northeast
- Adopt the changes that work. While we all want to get back to normal, take a critical look at the “abnormal strategies” you adopted over the past two years. Are there things worth keeping that make you a stronger company? Build a culture of empathy. Every employee in a company is having their own experience. The better you understand their experience, the more you can optimize their contributions. –Scott Wham, Director of Compliance & Innovation, OneDigital Greater Pennsylvania/Northeast
- Be flexible – there’s a lot going in the lives of our employees. If you can be a little flexible with work situations it can go a long way with morale and keeping employees with your company. - Justin Barwood, Principal, OneDigital New England
- Keeping positive communication flowing with status on the progress of the company vision. – Karle Stinehour, Managing Principal, Southeast region
- “The working landscape has changed over the past two years, staying in communication with your employees throughout the year educating employees on the benefit offerings allows employers to show the value of the benefits and educates the employees on the resources available to them. Transparency with the employee population is key. Listening and valuing the employee’s opinions will help develop a total reward programs with their employee’s best interest in mind. The feedback from employee surveys and from HR leadership teams can be used to implement solutions the employees value based on their input.” Beth Sweeney, Benefit Consultant, Greater New York/New Jersey/Northeast
- Successful employers are open to change and not afraid to outsource. With everything that has happened over the last 24 months, the only constant is change and outsourcing inefficiencies is a great way to prevent the loss of a key employee from being as detrimental to their internal team(s). – Rich Hamilton, Vice President of Sales, OneDigital Greater Pennsylvania/Northeast
- 71% of highly engaged organizations recognize employees for a job well done. Source: Bonusly Employee recognition programs are not a nice to have, but necessary if you want to achieve business goals driven by employee engagement. When employees are recognized in a meaningful way, they feel valued, inspired and excel. The most effective approach to employee recognition is ‘360-degree’, e.g., peer-to-peer, manager to employee and organizational-wide including ‘higher-ups’ or C-Suite. This layered method is vast and drives high engagement which fuels a culture of appreciation for each other’s contributions. - Kammy Boyd, Managing Principal, Enterprise Region
- I see thriving companies continuing to communicate with their employees, continuing to remain flexible in terms of individual employee needs and offering creative ways for employees to gather and communicate with one another. Continuous communication, encouragement, flexibility and socialization opportunities should be top priorities. – Adrienne Vichill, Principal, Senior Benefits Consultant, Northeast Region
Employee Inclusion & Empathy
- Move past preconceived norms about employee engagement. Every single person is different with various needs, expectations and talents. The more leadership can tap into the individual, the more successful they will be in harnessing the power of their people. Talk to your people – often – about different topics, ask their opinion, do what you can to help and explain why when you can’t. -Amy Scannell, VP, Human Resource Consulting Services, New England
- Lead with a heart. Folks are doing great work despite the loneliness and social disconnection they have suffered the last two years, and a simple “I see you” can really help your employee crest the seemingly unending waves. – Marcy Tandberg, Senior Benefits Consultant, West Region
- Don’t neglect your female workforce. These past two years have been brutal for working mothers. Now is the time to continue focusing on creating a more flexible and empathetic workplace. How? Continually solicit feedback to determine what additional supports would be most valued - instituting flexible hours or job sharing, making it ok to have clear boundaries between work hours and personal/family time, embracing continued remote work when sensible, offering additional or expanding current paid family leave, creating opportunities for mentorships, promoting more women into management and leadership positions. - Trudie Doudna, Principal, Senior Client Executive, Mid-Atlantic Region
- Stay current with your team’s needs and your clients as a lot is going on economically, medically and technically. – Karle Stinehour, Managing Principal, Southeast region
- Listen to your staff and lead with compassion. With the current climate, employees are looking for security, understanding and respect above anything else. - Vanessa Crawford, HR Consultant, West Region
Employee Engagement & Culture
- Companies that are thriving have made the connection between employee productivity and employee health and wellbeing. Employees will go to the mat for their employer when they feel they are being taken care of. – Sena Meilleur, Principal, OneDigital New England
- Companies must make it known that they care for employees through more than employee benefits. Employers must have an identity and culture that includes compassion, empathy and the genuine desire to make sure their employee’s lives are better than their competitors. That is how you win the war for talent. To thrive, employers must have an identity and culture that includes compassion, empathy and the genuine desire to make sure their employee’s lives are great. If you have happy employees that understand your mission, success will follow. -Scott Solomon, Senior Client Executive, OneDigital Greater Pennsylvania/Northeast
- ‘Rising tides raise all ships.’ One’s success should not, nor needs not rely on other’s failure. When everyone feels valued and successful then a higher bar can be set and reached by everyone. – Rebecca Zucker, Account Manager, Northeast Region
- Engage high-performing, key employees in decision making processes and strategies. – Jim Schade, Principal, Senior Benefits Consultant, Northeast Region
- Be genuine. Create a culture of appreciation. Acknowledging small wins and giving thanks goes a long way. Go beyond saying “thank you,” and highlight specifically how they helped you. – Emma Flavell, HR Generalist, Northeast Region
Healthcare navigation is critical to a successful benefits program and engagement strategy. Providing proactive and targeted outreach to your workforce to effectively manage and enhance their total wellbeing will save you money, increase benefits utilization and engagement, and boost the employee experience.
— Heather Rabinowitz, VP of Member Engagement, Corporate Office
At some point, the total rewards strategies that made businesses successful in the past reach their limit – as evidenced by ‘The Great Resignation.’ The willingness to explore new ideas allows organizations and its human capital to evolve. In many cases, improving the employee experience is not about adding more – but rather looking for antiquated programs to eliminate and refining strategy that drives meaningful employee impact, purpose and engagement.
— Tyler Ingram, Associate Vice President, OneDigital West
People are struggling now more than ever with financial stress, and they’re looking to their employers to help. Offering a financial wellness program for employees is so much more than 'flipping a switch.’ For example, we know it takes time to pay down debt--two to three years on average. That's why it’s best for employers to show commitment, be patient, and support the program from the top down to ensure it has the biggest impact.
— Laura Rogers, Director of Financial Elements, Retirement Services
Modernize your organizations’ retirement plan. The simplest advice I have is to make the right choice the easy choice for employees. Embrace behavioral finance concepts like automatic enrollment & escalation, push automatic enrollment default rates higher to promote higher savings rates, consider “stretching” or modifying your retirement plan match to further incentivize increased saving. It’s no longer up for debate; plan design is the single biggest contributing factor to whether an employee starts out on the right track for a successful retirement. This puts a tremendous amount of responsibility on employer and plan sponsors’ shoulders and it's time to embrace this responsibility and change the way we view retirement plans as an integral part of the company's culture and total rewards strategy.
— Joe DeBello, CPC, CRPS, Managing Consultant, OneDigital Southeast
Listening. Take the time to learn more about innovative ways to incorporate unique benefit and wellbeing solutions that meet a myriad of employees’ needs. Survey and ask for employee feedback so as an organization, you show you seek to learn more about what matters most to your employees and their families and can tailor benefits and programs to meet those needs. Thriving employers have created a culture where their employees feel a part of something bigger than simply earning their paychecks.
— Lindsey Knapp, Benefits Consultant, Southeast Region
COVID has made us all a bit more aware of our mortality – that includes all your employees too. Providing your employees, a customized and robust Life and Disability package protects their family’s standard of living if the worst unforeseen occurs. The Life and Disability Benefit designs of the past decade may not be sufficient anymore as the constant drive to lower cost has often eroded key contract features frequently overlooked in a review. It is a terrible waste of money to overpay for Life and Disability – it is an equally terrible waste to underpay for them.
— Josh Roland, Ancillary Benefits Practice Leader, Southeast Region
It is estimated that the cost of turnover can range from one – half to two times the employee’s annual salary, which could have a tremendous impact financially and organizationally to your business. While recruiting for talent in today’s labor market continues to be more challenging, don’t lose focus on limiting turnover by enhancing your current employee’s total compensation package and experience. When we look at the companies that are thriving, what are they doing that employers MUST consider?
- Focus on hiring talented employees who fit company culture and direction. Our most successful employees are hiring employees in different industries and training those employees to conform to their business.
- Aim to hire and/or promote employees who are great leaders. Employees tend to have more loyalty to their company when their direct boss and leadership are great at what they do.
- Our most successful companies are very active in communication to employees. Examples include monthly or quarterly town hall sessions and weekly emails/videos etc. They use these sessions to reinforce their culture and celebrate employee success and camaraderie.
— Patrick Coleman, CLU, Client Executive, OneDigital Greater New York/Northeast
Most of my clients now offer two or three different plan options. I think giving the employee a choice of multiple plans helps them to feel empowered regarding their healthcare coverage. In most cases, one of the plans being offered is an HSA compatible plan. HSA plans are another great way to get an employee engaged with their healthcare coverage.
— Rob Hubbard, Benefits Consultant, Northeast Region
Employers should look to increase their benefits offerings to keep and attract top talent. For example, if they have only offered their employees medical insurance in the past, consider offering additional ancillary benefits. It’s obviously a very competitive employment market and the employers with a variety of benefit offerings will be more appealing to potential employees. Another key is flexibility. If it’s possible for employers to offer employees the opportunity for work at home options or flex time options, that will help to differentiate them from other employers. In this current environment of coronavirus, employees’ competing priorities are often a source of great stress for them. If the employer is empathetic to employees’ needs, it will go a long way to promoting employees’ loyalty to the employer.
— Sandy Jiberno, Account Manager, Northeast Region
Employers shifting from an employer-sponsored plan to an employee-tailored plan are winning in today’s environment! Employees expect a customized, creative and coordinated benefits, HR and retirement strategy to ensure an enjoyable and valuable experience. The power of one holistic approach with a trusted partner increases employee appreciation and improves business performance.
— Bob Williams, VP of Client Services, New England