Cheap – but highly valued – benefits

To combat rising costs, try offering flexibility, get-togethers and discounts
By Greg Pallone
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/02/2009

Attracting and retaining the best talent is arguably “job one” for HR professionals. Continuing to meet that mandate has become a little more expensive each year since traditional benefit plans — highly valued by employees — continue to increase in cost at a rate above inflation. Add on a retirement savings plan, Canadian Pension Plan payments, employment insurance premiums and other statutory benefit costs and they represent a significant portion of payroll. The cost of health benefits alone has increased at three times the rate of salary increases in the last five years.

Employees know times are tough and many are glad just to have a job. But that doesn’t mean workers will happily accept a cutback in benefits. So where do employers go from here? Rather than terminating programs, many employers are returning to some of the essential elements that can make a difference at an individual level — things that truly engage an employee after the “expected” has been provided.

When plan sponsors are squeezed by a recessionary economy, there are hundreds of ways employers can reward and engage employees. Here are some common, but progressive, ways employers are going beyond health and dental benefits to show genuine interest in the well-being of employees: