Attracting and Retaining Employees: The Experience Focus

    Picture this scenario. Austin is a great employee but wants more opportunities.

    Austin is a great employee, educated in his field and committed to developing his skills and value with additional education and training. He is reliable, accurate, and a strong team member. Austin is motivated and desires being valued; but currently, his role is not creating the same value as it once did. During the past two annual reviews, he has taken the opportunity to mention that he is up for a challenge.

    Austin is loyal and patient. Last year, there was a capital project that he expressed interest in, but he did not get looped in. This year, there was an opportunity in a different department, so he inquired about the position with his manager in passing. His manager sloughed it off and said, “There’s no way you want to work in that department.” So, Austin inquired with the manager of the other department. This caused a meeting with his manager – and it was awkward. A few months pass, and Austin sees an external job posting and decides to reach out. He sends his resume – why not, right? A few more months pass by, and a recruiter contacts him.

    Austin is 20 years into his career and 8 years with this company. Therefore, a move would be a gamble, but he is mulling it over in his mind. He has checked out the prospective company’s website and tried to find chatter about the company online. They are growing, solid financially, respected in the industry…all arrows are pointing in the right direction. The real issue on his mind is… how does this employer treat its employees? For Austin, it’s not so much about loving his job as it is feeling like he is an integral part of the organization and knowing he is making an impact. So how do you find out about the value placed on employees?

    Austin decides to ask if he could review the prospective new employer’s benefits offering. What does this company provide? This inquiry did not answer all of Austin’s questions, but what he received can result in either continuing this journey of investigating a new job or not.  

    A Robust Employee Benefits Package is Vital to Keeping – and Recruiting Employees

    To attract (and retain) key employees, a robust benefits package is vital. Employee Benefits provide a window into the value placed on employees. Why? As in Austin’s care, and many others like him, a quick review of employee benefits can put an prospective employer in the running or not.

    Why the labor shortage?

    Recruiting top notch talent has been a hot topic for employers for years. While many attend job fairs and place ‘help wanted’ ads, still the U.S. workforce has been shrinking at record pace. Emsi compiled The Demographic Drought report providing insight into the drivers of the labor shortage…and it’s not Covid-19 (though it certainly accelerated things a bit.)

    So, what’s been driving the labor shortage? A few things:

    1. Mass departure of Baby Boomers.
    2. Lowest labor force participation rate.
    3. Significant decline in births.

    As if that doesn’t paint a bleak picture on its own, the latest data from the National Student Clearinghouse reports a 5.1% decline in higher education enrollment since the pandemic. That’s nearly one million fewer students!

    Turnover is not just “part of the job.”

    Employers can no longer dismiss employee turnover as ‘just part of the job.’ The talent pool is not only a lot smaller, it is not as stacked with the talent many require to fill open positions. Where does that leave employers when it comes to hiring and retaining staff? It’s time to go back to basics – focusing on the employee experience (EX)!

    Wait…shouldn’t customers be the focus?


    Richard Branson said it best: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

     Shifting the focus to strategies that attract talent to your organization also serve to help retain them. Creating an ideal employee experience that makes staff feel valued isn’t always centered around a paycheck. Here are a few ways employers can leverage ancillary benefits to attract and retain quality staff:

    What are ancillary benefits?

    Ancillary Benefits (also known as voluntary benefits) are an easy way for employers to supplement group health insurance plans. With ancillary benefits, the employer chooses the options to make available to employees, and the employee pays 100% of the premium (if selected.)

    Some options topping the list of ancillary products are:

    • Voluntary Life Insurance – these policies pay out to the employee selected beneficiary and can be set up with a portable or convertible feature so that employees can choose to take the benefit. This demonstrates that the employer is truly invested in the employee. Both term and permanent options are available.

    • Disability –Long and Short Term serve to protect the paycheck of the employee so that in the event of an injury or illness the Employer has a plan so that the employee can provide for their loved ones during the recovery timeframe. This coverage also provides a plan for a return to work.

    • Critical Illness - pays cash benefits for a critical illness diagnosis, such as a heart attack or stroke. Employees can use the benefits to pay for medical expenses, such as their medical deductible, or for everyday expenses like food and childcare.

    • Identity Theft – these services help provide peace of mind if a person’s personal information has been compromised. Services typically monitor the web for suspicious activity related to credit files and bank information, retirement and investment accounts, and personal information such as social security numbers being exposed.

    • Legal Assistance – having access to help for common legal issues can be a lifesaver. Whether an employee is facing a traffic ticket or needs assistance with estate planning, having a network of experts to call upon checks the box on stress-relief and money savings.

    • Pet Insurance – help build employee morale by helping your team take care of everyone in their household. When pets become ill, veterinary services can bring a ton of financial and emotional stress that impact both the employee’s quality of life and their work productivity. Most plans cover vet visits, lab work, medications, and surgery for unexpected injury or illness.

    The pandemic brought a lot of attention to ancillary benefits, but while many view them as a temporary ‘feel good’ offering, it’s a simple and easy way to show your employees they are valued.

    Your staff has unique needs, and their preferences change as their lives do. It’s worth the time to speak with department supervisors and even get feedback from employees directly as to what additional benefits they would like to see offered. You as the employer are in a unique position to provide these robust benefits to your employees at great rates. In almost all cases an individual cannot secure the breadth of benefit available through an employer.

    Look at the options you make available to employees and talk to your agent about new offerings that will make a strong declaration that you are in tune and committed to your employee’s financial well-being.

    If you'd like to talk to us about your employer's benefits offering including volunary benefits, email us