Benefits and Perks Present Opportunities for Creativity

Embrace innovation while addressing the needs of your organization and the wants of your workforce

By Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP March 14, 2019
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Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP

Benefits and perks are recruitment and retention tools that can and will make a difference in any organization. They also present creative opportunities for HR professionals who know what their organizations need, what their employees want, and how to embrace innovation and change. 

Utilize strategic HR initiatives to align benefits and perks to these needs and wants. Drive and implement benefits and perks by aligning your efforts to the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge (BoCK), which provides guidance on how to deliver added value to your organization. 

Remember: We not only need to embrace creative perks and benefits, we also need to communicate them to the workforce. It's great if your organization offers unique and innovative opportunities, but it's not so great if no one knows about them.

Consider the points below when contemplating and reviewing new opportunities: 

  1. Keep it simple. It's generous to offer everything under the sun. But what is the return on investment? How often are employees actually using the benefits and perks that your organization is offering? Survey your workforce to understand what is important to them. Start with simple perks—"low-hanging fruit" like discounts on cell phones, food, gym memberships, and identity theft protection—that can be efficiently incorporated and communicated. Let Consultation, Communication and the People knowledge domain be your guide.

  2. Think outside the box. Simple doesn't mean you can't be innovative. This can be the most challenging task for any organization. Be thorough, creative and unique in exploring what perks and benefits you might offer to your workforce and how you will market them. (Personally, I'm a big proponent of student loan reimbursement programs—it's the new dental insurance for my generation of employees). The Communication competency will help you move toward successful implementation.

  3. Benchmark and measure. Before you implement anything, benchmark and measure success rates. This information is not always easy to gather, but it's necessary to have before you invest time and effort. Know the market, understand your competition, and design metrics for the ongoing evaluation of benefits and perks. Critical Evaluation, Leadership & Navigation and Business Acumen will play crucial roles throughout this process.

  4. Financial impact. You will also need to fully understand the financial impact of any new perks or benefits on the organization prior to implementing them. Is the investment worth the cost? Ask for information and data on how many other organizations are using them, and the utilization rates. Know the numbers and execute on that basis. Move forward by applying your skills in Critical Evaluation and Business Acumen.

  5. Partnership opportunities. Most organizations outsource or partner with providers of payroll, retirement and benefit services. Proficiency in Relationship Management is instrumental to the success of partnerships. Are there opportunities for growth with your organization and its benefits provider? Are you taking advantage of free or additional perks you could be offering to your employees? (Try building a relationship with a provider of financial services, for instance. Perks and benefits might include financial advisors coming on site for one-on-one conversations, conducting financial wellness seminars, etc.)

 

Perks and benefits will continue to evolve as the needs of the workforce evolve. Rely on the SHRM BoCK to guide you and your organization through dynamic change. 

Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP, owner of Burr Consulting, LLC, Elmira, N.Y., is an HR consultant, an assistant professor at Elmira College, and an on-call mediator and fact-finder for the New York State Public Employment Relations Board. He holds master's degrees in business administration and in human resources & industrial relations, and a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.

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