(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Zenefits, an organization focused on helping small and mid-sized companies empower their workforce and stay compliant at the same time. Check out this article from Zenefits CHRO Beth Steinberg on how they are working to create an open and honest workplace culture. Enjoy the post!)
I know that I don’t have to remind you how tough recruiting is these days. The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the U.S. unemployment rate for June at 4.0 percent. When the job market is this competitive, organizations start looking for ways to differentiate themselves. And one of the ways they do that is by introducing new employee benefits and perks.
This idea of increasing employee benefits is supported by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Strategic Benefits Report. It indicated that nearly 20 percent of HR professionals have altered their benefits program to help recruit and retain talent. Which means that organizations should make sure the benefits they’re adding or enhancing have maximum impact. Even the best perks and benefits can be perceived poorly if they’re not implemented correctly. Execution matters.
How to Successfully Implement New Employee Benefits
Before we talk about the best way to implement an employee benefit, I think it’s important to note that these are those moments when policies, procedures, and guidelines bring value. As a human resources professional, I’m well aware that there are times when companies create policies that never needed to exist. This isn’t one of them.
Policies can offer structure and consistency, which helps with the overall implementation. For example, I was a little surprised to discover the number of organizations that don’t have a guideline for implementing flexible work arrangements, given how popular the benefit is to employees. According to Zenefits research on the state of flexible work arrangements, 53 percent of employees say there’s no official flexible work policy in place.
So, when it’s time to implement a new benefit, don’t shy away from creating a policy. Here are 6 steps for implementing a new employee benefit (or changing an old one).
1. Make sure everyone is on board with the decision. And the timeline. I know this might sound obvious, but naysayers can derail the implementation of an initiative. Take the time to get buy-in from every level of the organization. That includes setting goals, developing a timeline, and establishing success metrics.
2. Confirm the details with your legal advisor. Benefits laws are incredibly complicated. Ensure that the new benefit is compliant with federal, state, and local law. Also, find out if there are tax implications in case the new benefit will impact employee’s paychecks.
3. Align other company policies and procedures. Sometimes benefits can impact another existing benefit or policy. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, but organizations do need to be aware. It’s possible that other organizational policies and procedures will need a little updating at the same time.
4. Develop a benefits communications plan. Once the company has information to share, it’s time to plan out the best way to share it. We’ve all heard that old adage about needing to hear something a half-dozen times before it sinks in. It mightprobablydefinitely will take multiple messages. Consider a variety of communication mediums: online, in-person, and paper.
5. Consider designating benefit ambassadors. Speaking of communication, often some of the best ‘explainers’ of a new benefit are co-workers. Consider having a small group of employees learn the new benefit inside and out. They can help explain the advantages of the benefit. They can also help to put any misinformation or rumors to rest.
6. Conduct a post-implementation debrief. Once the benefit is fully implemented, don’t forget to do a short debrief. It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate. Simply ask two questions: 1) What went well? And 2) What would we do differently next time? This helps future implementations.
Don’t Let Employees Lose a Great Benefit
I honestly believe that organizations want to do the right thing and give employees benefits they like and will use. The keyword is “use”. If employees don’t know about the benefit OR they don’t know how it works, then they can’t take advantage of it. A well-thought employee benefits implementation strategy *benefits* everyone. (No pun intended.)
If you want to learn more about how to implement a new employee benefit, download Zenefits new communication guide for offering a new perk. I can see this being one of those documents I keep on my desktop and review every time I’m working on an implementation strategy. And given today’s labor market, that might be a lot.14