HR Hot Topics – September, 2023: Maximizing Employee Benefits: Finding the Sweet Spot Between Perceptions and Values

As the rust-colored leaves of autumn start to fall, I find myself — like many of you — in a reflective mood. The HR realm isn’t just about policies; it’s about people. And as open enrollment season creeps up, the air feels charged with questions, hopes, and decisions. Top on my mind? How to make every benefit dollar echo the heartbeats of our teams.


The Ever-Present Giant: Health Insurance


Ah, health insurance! For most employers, it’s like that age-old family recipe — essential, but often heavy on the pocket. Even as its costs climb year after year, it’s the benefit most employees clutch close to their hearts. While it’s a no-brainer to keep it in the basket, there’s so much more to consider.


A Tale of Two Lists

I recently came across a Forbes article that felt like reading two sides of a conversation. On one side, the benefits employers proudly offer, thinking they’ve hit the jackpot. On the other, what employees secretly wish for. Sure, health insurance, life insurance, and retirement contributions were the crowd favorites. But beyond that, the lists told different stories.

Could we be missing the mark on what our teams genuinely want?


Age and Desires: An Intriguing Dance

Here’s a fun tidbit: Did you know over 30% of our younger workforce (18-41 years) would love some love for their pets in the form of insurance? And nearly 40% of those in the 42-57 bracket would prefer just a tad more leisure in the form of paid time off? And then, there’s the majority of our seasoned professionals (42 and above), for whom employer-backed healthcare is golden.


Sprinkling Some Creativity

Let me take you back to a conversation I had a while ago. When I casually mentioned pet insurance, the response was a mix of raised eyebrows and chuckles. But think about it – for the young employee whose fur-baby means the world, this could be a deal-maker. And it’s not just pets. How about helping out with long-term care insurance or offering a mid-day session on smart financial planning? Sometimes, the most valuable benefits cost little to nothing but mean the world to the recipient.


Crafting with Care

The magic formula? Know your people. Understand their dreams, fears, and what makes them tick. And maybe, just maybe, offer them the freedom to choose — a benefits menu tailored to their personal needs, ensuring they feel seen and valued.


Let’s Chat!

At the end of the day, it’s all about connection. Regularly engage your team, keep them in the loop, and let them know they’re not just a number on a spreadsheet.


Want to delve deeper into these musings? Think about hopping on board with HR Hot Topics. As the winds of change blow this season, let’s make it about understanding, growth, and genuine alignment in our HR journey.