EB comment: Using your benefits to stand out from rivals

Maybe someone reading this will be able to help me out with a precise answer, because as far I know there isn’t a list or league table telling us which employers attract the most interest from potential recruits (and not just graduates). There are plenty of lists and awards events of best companies to work for – so I guess if you are one of these there is a high chance that you are a company that attracts more recruits than your competitors. What we at Employee Benefits have noticed is that many of these ‘best’ companies are using benefits as one of their strategies to stand out from competitors. Offering higher rates of pay is not necessarily going to get you the best recruits. If you think about it, do you really want someone on your team who only went for the job because of the money, rather than what else you had to offer – interesting job, career development, an organisation they can be proud working for, colleagues and managers they respect and enjoy working with? We know all too well that benefits are not the most important deciding factor when taking a job, but they do rate higher at the recruitment stage, than say when someone is thinking of leaving their job. So offering the best benefits your organisation can afford, and making them an effective strategy is vital. Benefits do not have to be about doing nice, fluffy things that make staff feel fuzzy and warm inside. They are a business strategy – they help recruit, retain, motivate, reduce sickness absence, smooth change, and so on. The objective of offering a benefit needs to be clearly stated in quantifiable terms and then measured on a regular basis. Not only is having this data to hand useful when entering awards (accolade winners are invariably the ones who can prove their claims with hard facts), but even more importantly, they will prove to those sceptical of good people management practices why strategies such as benefits really do help business performance. Our lead news story this month is an excellent example of an employer, RAC, which carefully measured the effects of a sickness absence programme and as a result will be able to use the savings to offer free shares to all staff (the amount though is still to be decided by the board as we go to print). The shares in turn will help to keep staff more focused on the company, as well as being a nice little windfall for staff. So having a strong business strategy to your people management isn’t just about getting as much out of staff as possible, it also means letting them share in that success – in order to encourage further success. Debi O’Donovan, editor, Employee Benefits magazine.