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Labor Market Heats Up Benefits of Employee Experience

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Creating the optimal employee experience is a top priority for organizations but doing so in the current labor market is especially important.

Nearly a quarter of employees surveyed by Alight Solutions said the value of their employer’s benefits program falls below or well below that of other companies. Erika Illiano, vice president and best practice leader of consumer experience at Alight, said the data indicate employee satisfaction is trending the wrong way.

“Overall, employees are pretty dissatisfied with their workplace experiences,” Illiano said, with only 38% labeling their experience as great.

“One area of concern for us is the dramatic drop in employees understanding total rewards,” she said. “That’s at 50%, which is down from 77% in our 2015 research. When employees don’t understand total rewards, they certainly are less likely to appreciate the value.”

So how can employers improve these variables? Alight’s research found that organizations that offer flexibility, unique benefits and reliable technology will differentiate themselves in the job marketplace.

Survey respondents said flexibility is one of the most meaningful attributes in the workplace influencing their day-to-day experience. Illiano noted that 51% of employees surveyed said they wouldn’t even consider a job that provides less flexibility than what they have today. And for those employees considered going to a job with less flexibility, it would take on average a 31% pay increase to make up for that deficiency.

“Some employees are saying ‘just let me figure out a way to get 40 hours every week on my own terms,’” Illiano said. “‘Let me take on other roles from time to time, so I’m growing my career. Give me volunteer time off in addition to pay. Let me change my schedule and give me more agility in my actual schedule, so there’s a lot of things they’re asking for with respect to where and when they get work done.’”

Employees surveyed said better-than-average benefits are a top-five characteristic that differentiates employers. Flexibility plays a role in accomplishing a better-than-average benefits package, Illiano said.

“When we ask what can truly differentiate one employer from another, being a fun place to work, a flexible work environment and better-than-average pay are top three differentiators,” Illiano said. “There are things you can do with your culture to get at the fun, but flexibility is where employers have a unique opportunity with respect to their benefits program. Things like enabling employees to exchange unused vacation days for everything from 401(k) contributions to charitable donations.”

Lastly, creating a technologically sound workplace is critical for attracting and retaining talent. Valuable tools and resources, including efficient technology, are employees’ third-highest expectation of employers, according to the survey. Streamlining access to your benefits offerings is one way to earn high marks in that department.

“The No. 1 request from employees was a one-stop destination for HR and benefits information and transactions. Give me one place to go, not a million websites with different login IDs,” Illiano said.

Less than half (42%) of employees said their workplace technology matches their experience outside of work and about one-third (31%) said it always or often frustrates them.

“This is an area where employers need to raise the bar and we’re saying they need to raise the bar on speed, access and relevant content,” Illiano said.  

Alight’s full report will be released in December.

About the Author 

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork. 

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