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Four strategies to attract and retain employees by delivering equitable benefits

If you’re an HR leader today, chances are you’re starting each day thinking about how to keep your employees happy and how to create the workplace culture top candidates are looking to be part of. Meanwhile, it’s hard to keep up with top trends without seeing headlines about “the fight for top talent” and “what the great resignation means for the future of work.”

It goes without saying, the last two years transformed organizations and brought focus back to company values. And when it comes to building the “complete” benefits package, how could you possibly have an accurate pulse-read on exactly what your employees need? There’s no easy button for creating a one-size-fits-all benefits offering. Just like our lives have become more flexible over the last two years, building the ideal benefits package now also demands more flexibility – today, employers are looking to support their people in ways that go above and beyond the standard 9 to 5 – with perks such as fitness funds, meal stipends, family planning benefits, and resources for financial wellness. More importantly, employers recognize that benefits are a direct reflection of a company’s culture, as well as one of the most powerful attraction and retention tools they have.

As employers and brokers work to identify the most competitive, cost-effective strategies to define and deliver the complete benefits package, we hosted a virtual fireside chat to discuss approaches with the following leaders in the space:

  • Heidi Schriefer, Grindr’s VP of People
  • Ellen Meza, Docusign’s Senior Director of Global Benefits
  • Lenke Taylor, Level’s Chief People Officer 
  • Kaleana Quibell, Sequoia’s VP of Wellbeing & Partnerships

We’re excited to share the top four strategies from our panel about how companies are adapting to an evolving benefits landscape.

1. Employees want more flexibility

Many employers mistakenly assume that their workforce wants more benefits. But a distinction needs to be made: employees aren’t asking for more in terms of quantity – they’re asking for more in terms of flexibility.

It’s about a smaller number of benefits with more flexibility. Then giving employees the choice to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
- Ellen Meza, Docusign

But flexibility doesn’t just mean providing more choices, according to Lenke Taylor. It’s also about making the entire benefits experience accessible, seamless, and easy-to-use.

“We've seen this increase in availability of new vendors that are changing the model for how benefits worked in the past. Now you can see a doctor over video, and you can order glasses and try them on in your house. Employers are realizing that employees expect to not have these high-friction benefits processes any more.”

2. Yesterday’s benefits may not serve today’s workforce

Between The Great Resignation and the impact of the pandemic, employers are being forced to look at their existing benefits and ask themselves: are these really serving the needs of our workforce?

Many HR leaders, including Heidi Schriefer of Grindr, discovered that the answer was a definitive “no.”

“I thought we had a great benefits program,” she explained. “But when you looked at whether or not it met the needs of the vast majority of our population, it clearly didn't. We had a great benefits program that worked if you're a cisgender heterosexual person, but not so much if you were a member of the queer community.”

So in response, the Grindr team reassessed what their employees actually needed. And they’ve already taken action, rolling out impactful, equitable offerings like a gender affirmation benefit that provides social, legal, and surgical support.

3. Utilization isn’t everything

Most organizations define benefits success by looking at utilization. While this is indeed a key indicator of adoption and value, it’s not the whole story: it’s important to remember that the impact of certain benefits may not be quantifiable.

“An impactful benefit doesn't need to be the most popular benefit,” says Sequoia’s Kaleana Quibell. “We see a lot of clients who are so honed in on utilization. But when we're talking about things like fertility care or gender affirmation benefits, that’s truly life-changing. And I think it not only impacts those people's lives, but also the employees who see how much of a big impact it has.”

Schriefer agrees and says she saw this ripple effect first-hand at Grindr when the company recently rolled out their gender affirmation benefit, offering a level of support that connects benefits to company values.

What surprised me the most when we rolled out our gender affirmation offering was how meaningful it was to our cisgender straight employees. I was completely caught off guard by that – seeing how much an offering intended to even out the playing field matters to the people who didn't directly benefit from it.
- Heidi Schriefer, Grindr

4. Choosing the right vendor partner is key

It’s important to acknowledge that HR and People teams are under an incredible amount of pressure right now. They feel urgency around finding fast solutions but also know that it takes time to craft a meaningful benefits strategy.

This is especially true for large organizations like Docusign, which serves over 8,000 employees globally. Meza’s advice for scaling quickly but thoughtfully? Choose the right vendor.

“If you've implemented the [Level] platform, you could probably call your account manager and say, ‘Hey, can we create a new category for our benefits?’ And in a week, they would make that change. So having a vendor / partner / consultant that’s helping you think about building the right infrastructure makes doing it quickly so much easier.”

The takeaway

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of benefits, employers and their employees want a lot of the same things – flexibility, inclusivity, and ease. As Schriefer said beautifully, “We don’t communicate programs, we talk in life terms. Instead of saying, ‘We have all these benefits,’ we tell our people, ‘For X, we have these tools to help.’”

Like our panel of HR leaders taught us, a benefits package that aligns with your employees’ needs and well-being is your greatest recruiting and retention tool. The future of your organization’s retention and employee happiness depends on the equitable package you build for them and the tools that support your most impactful offering.

Interested in joining our next webinar and/or being the first to know about Level updates and industry news? Sign up to hear from us directly.

And if you’re curious about how Level can help your organization build a more thoughtful, equitable, and competitive benefits package, reach out to our team.