Employers Emphasizing Benefits to Recruit Talent

Amid recruiting difficulties, organizations are investing more in health care and other noncash rewards.

By Jen Schramm Nov 1, 2015
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HR Magazine November 2015It’s getting harder to find good talent, and that’s a problem for recruiters with open positions to fill. So how can HR land qualified workers? The answer may be benefits.

Recruiting difficulty is on the rise and is likely to continue to increase as the economy gets stronger. Nearly 40 percent of HR professionals said their organizations had a hard time recruiting employees at all levels in the past 12 months, according to the results of the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2015 Strategic Benefits Survey. That’s up from 33 percent in 2014 and a significant increase from 2013, when around one-quarter reported recruiting problems.

In response, organizations are turning their attention to benefits, especially to attract highly skilled and in-demand talent. In the past 12 months, a greater percentage of employers leveraged their benefits programs to recruit employees compared to previous years. At the same time, they are stepping up their investment. Half of survey respondents have increased spending on health care since 2014. About a quarter boosted their investment in wellness and preventive health, professional and career development, and financial benefits.

Nearly 9 in 10 HR professionals surveyed said health care is the most important benefit to a majority of their employees. And about three-quarters of respondents anticipate that their organizations’ total health care costs will rise between plan year 2014 and plan year 2015; the average anticipated increase is 13 percent.

In fact, taking control of the price of health care is one of the two top strategic goals for employers. The other is ensuring that people understand the value of their benefits. After all, benefits are critical to recruiting and retaining workers. But candidates and employees need to know what those benefits are.

The good news is that HR practitioners believe they are making some progress on that front. About two-thirds of survey respondents said their organizations’ employees are “somewhat knowledgeable” about the employer-sponsored benefits available to them, and 16 percent said employees are “very knowledgeable,” a significant increase from 9 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, almost 9 in 10 respondents indicated that their communications efforts are effective.

Employers may also start to look more closely at the mix of benefits they offer. Two-thirds of HR professionals thought health care would increase in importance in their efforts to recruit employees at all levels in the next three to five years. But compared with the 2014 findings, fewer believe that family-friendly and preventive health and wellness benefits will become more important.

When your top candidate has more than one job offer, the package of benefits you offer might just tip the scales in your favor. That’s why HR needs to find out what’s important to the people they want to hire and show them the benefits.

Jen Schramm is manager of the Workforce Trends program at SHRM.

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