At Southern Cross we encourage our business customers to ensure their employees know about the benefits to which they’re entitled, both at induction and during their employment. We also found Humankind’s concept of employee experience very useful for our own organisation.
For a long time employee benefits have been viewed as a “nice to have” but not particularly necessary part of an employee proposition. Maybe it was the fruit in the kitchen, or a contribution to a gym membership, or, if you were lucky, a health insurance policy paid for by the business.
These benefits were easy to introduce, but notoriously hard to take away – it said something negative about your business if you took away these “extras”.
While the debate continues about the cost and relative ROI associated with such benefits, the real focus should be on the impact they have as part of your wider employee experience (EX) efforts.
It’s important to point out here, that employee benefits are not the same thing as employee experience. Employee benefits are optional extras, whereas the employee experience can be best defined as the sum of perceptions an employee has about their interactions at work.
This includes leadership, the operation of the business, the environment your people work in and the tools (and data) they have to get their jobs done. In other words – a lot more that the optional extras.
While these concepts are different, thought should be given to how your employee benefits contribute to the employee experience. How they contribute to the goals you may have set yourself about the way you want your people to feel about working for your business. Keep in mind that all employees have expectations relating to their time working for a business. Some expectations are explicit – spelled out on paper or communicated verbally. But there are also the unvoiced expectations. These could be implied through the brand, or they may be a set of personal minimum standards an employee has about the way they (and those around them) should be treated.
If productivity is important to you, then your focus could be on helping your people stay fit and healthy. This is where healthy foods, wellbeing initiatives and health insurance make perfect sense.
If creativity and innovative thinking are critical to your business success, then it might be important to consider how you’ll help your employees manage stress through benefits like flexible working arrangements, time off with kids or even child care subsidies.
If retention is a goal, then other benefits could be considered including career planning services, milestone rewards or even social programmes for encouraging connections with colleagues.
Whatever your goals are, don’t fall into the trap of thinking of your employee benefits as just another cost to the business. Instead, take the time to ensure your employee benefits are a core part of your wider employee experience to create intrinsically motivated employees who will pay you back in spades.
Having worked in experience design and strategy for the past decade, Matt brings a unique perspective on what he calls, Employee Experience. Matt has worked with organisations across the world connecting business strategy with deliberately designed customer and employee experience strategy. He uses his diverse background to push leaders beyond the obvious to make clear, commercially astute, strategic choices.