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Employers Use Benefits and Perks to Counter Great Resignation

Workers expect new benefits and flexibility around hours worked

A hand holding a tablet with the word benefits on it.

With workers quitting their jobs at record rates, many employers are introducing new benefits and enabling more flexible schedules in response to the continued tight labor market.

SHRM Online has collected the following articles and resources looking at the use of benefits to encourage employees to stay with their employer.

Accounting Firm Beefs Up Its Benefits

Accounting and advisory firm KPMG will make automatic 401(k) contributions of up to 8 percent of a worker's pay instead of matching employee contributions, along with other enhancements to its benefits programs.

"We will replace our current KPMG 401k match and pension programs with a single, automatic firm-funded contribution within the 401k plan equal to 6-8 percent of eligible W-2 pay," KPMG U.S. Chair and CEO Paul Knopp announced in late October via a LinkedIn post. "The new plan will feature market-leading flexibility as all employees will receive the contribution without any requirement to contribute their own money," he wrote.

The announcement was accompanied by a 10 percent reduction in health care premiums for 2022 with added health care advocacy services, 12 weeks of paid parental leave to bond with a new child and up to three weeks of additional paid caregiver leave plus new caregiver concierge programs, and an expanded employee recognition program.

(KPMG via LinkedIn)

Investment Bank Enriches Its Offerings

Investment banking firm Goldman Sachs Group is introducing several new employee benefits as part of a bid to attract and keep employees in a pandemic that has made many people re-evaluate their careers.

The company is increasing its retirement fund matching contributions for U.S. employees to 6 percent of total compensation, or 8 percent for employees making $125,000 a year or less, and eliminating the one-year waiting period before matching employee contributions.

It is also introducing six weeks of unpaid sabbatical for employees with at least 15 years at the firm. 

Other expanded benefits include 20 days of paid leave for pregnancy loss (including spouses), 20 days bereavement leave for the loss of an immediate family member and five days paid leave for the loss of a non-immediate family member. 

"We wanted to offer a compelling value proposition to current and prospective employees, and wanted to make sure we're leading, not just competing," said Goldman's head of human resources, Bentley de Beyer.

(Wall Street Journal)

Great Resignation or Great Reckoning?

The COVID-19 pandemic caused front-line, low-wage, minority and lower-level employees to consider leaving their employers at rates significantly higher than historical norms, according to HR consultancy Mercer's 2021 Inside Employees' Minds survey report, based on responses from more than 2,000 U.S.-based employees surveyed earlier this year.

While the term "the Great Resignation" implies a mass exodus of workers across demographics, "Great Reckoning" signifies that only particular groups of workers—those who feel their employers are not meeting their needs—are considering leaving their jobs.

"Employers now need to think differently about front-line and lower-level workers and deliver a compelling value proposition that addresses their needs," said Melissa Swift, Mercer U.S. transformation leader.

Employers are advised to focus on how they can enhance the economic stability of their workforce and make front-line hourly jobs more attractive. Pay is one priority employers should consider, along with benefits such as affordable health care and resources to enhance their financial wellness.


Businesses Respond to Employee Flight

Among HR professionals who said their organization had seen higher or much higher turnover in the past six months, 42 percent have implemented new or additional remote-work or flexibility options to reduce turnover, 32 percent have implemented new or additional employee referral bonuses, and 28 percent have introduced new or additional merit increases, according to research by the Society for Human Resource Management.

"Employees are leaving their jobs to pursue new opportunities in record numbers, making hiring and retaining talent a significant challenge for employers across the country," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM's president and chief executive officer. "It's a candidate's market, and organizations must respond by recognizing the need to think differently in how to recruit and retain talent, revisiting benefits and flexible work schedules, along with broadening the talent pool for open positions."

(SHRM Online)

Increase Use of Flexible Hours

Recently released results from Randstad's Next Normal survey showed workers' expectations about benefits continue to change. Among the 1,227 U.S. respondents to the August survey, 24 percent said flexible work hours are the most important work benefit, while 20 percent consider child care benefits their top priority.

The survey data is consistent with previous Randstad USA studies, which have found that U.S. workers are expecting new benefits and perks from their employer.

(Randstad USA)

Choosing When and Where to Work

Research from staffing firm Robert Half shows that of 2,800 senior managers polled in June, 41 percent were giving employees the ability to choose when they work and 27 percent of those managers don't mind if their direct reports put in fewer than 40 hours a week as long as the job gets done.

That might be a moot point, however, as the firm's August survey of 1,000 workers found that 72 percent said they need at least eight hours a day to get their job done, while 48 percent never completely disconnect from work during business hours and feel obligated to respond to messages and requests immediately, even during breaks.

"While managers are increasingly embracing flexible schedules, they don't always have full insight into their team members' responsibilities and workloads," said Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald. "When employees have too much on their plates, the option to work anytime can create more stress than relief"—turning a benefit meant to promote retention into one that could drive employees away.

(Robert Half Talent Solutions)

Workers Seek Higher Wages, Greater Flexibility

Many employees now have leverage to demand higher wages, better benefits and/or more flexible working conditions from new or current employers.

"For job seekers, cash is king," said Nick Bunker, North America economic research director for Indeed Hiring Lab. Searches on the Indeed job listing network exploded for companies like Amazon, Chipotle and Bank of America after they announced increases to the minimum wages they pay, he said, indicating that "wages are still the most important issue."

"There is a reassessment going on by workers asking themselves if their job is worth it for what they're paid and by employers who can only raise wages so much," said payroll provider ADP's chief economist Nela Richardson.

More flexible work arrangements and better work/life balance are all part of the picture now, she said.



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