Change in Strategy for Non-Traditional Benefits

employee benefits

By Eric Peters 2015-02-25 12:20:35

As the market for talent in the maritime industry becomes increasingly competitive, benefits will play a more significant part of employee attraction and retention strategies in 2015. Gone are the days where a large salary alone will draw top talent – employers must look at the complete offering, which means giving critical thought to employee benefits in an effort to attract and retain the talent needed to be competitive. 

Massages, healthier food options, childcare coverage, pet-friendly workplaces and free yoga classes are just some of the things we saw offered to employees in 2014. Additionally, social media has played a key role in marketing these benefits with HR teams, along with an organization’s own employees, taking to platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to promote their employer’s offerings  - who better to promote a company’s benefits than those already working within the organization? These are often the most convincing and impactful social media interactions.

However, companies must be careful when seeking to offer the best benefits packages – there will always be someone, somewhere doing it bigger and better. The line between offering too little or too much is a difficult one to walk. If a business isn’t making money, it won’t want its staff taking advantage of amenities when critical work must be done. Likewise, taking away benefits promised to employees, even when business is down, will almost certainly result in some degree of ill-feeling - organizations need to ensure that the benefits they provide, traditional or non-traditional, are sustainable through the good and bad times.

A chief consideration for businesses in the US right now is assessing how they will comply with the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which went into effect for organizations with more than 100 employees on January 1, 2015. A recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management showed that health care costs are estimated to increase by at least 6.5% in 2015. Add that to the fact that many more employees will be added to the health coverage plans, and you have a tremendous impact on the company bottom line.

One way or another, companies will need to either increase their healthcare spending or get creative with a benefits portfolio. Companies make this work by offering a high-deductible health plan and supplementing it with telemedicine and concierge services. These plans are less costly, and the added benefits allow employees to spend their healthcare dollars more wisely. Other ways to offset increased healthcare costs are to reduce spousal coverage, promote wellness programs for reduced premiums, and encourage step therapy as opposed to high-priced medications.

The opinion of an employer’s brand is almost always based on face value – this could be the brand that’s being created by a marketing department, perceptions formed from a business’s own employees sharing the experience of their employer, or a historic opinion that has been created over time. The war for talent in the maritime industry is a difficult one to win. In 2015 organizations that recognize the importance of employee benefits and their employer brand, combined with an understanding of how they can work side-by-side to drive their recruitment strategies, may just have the edge.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.