In a society where employees are surrounded by creative technological tools that keep them connected to the office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is critical that employers identify innovative ways to stay informed relative to the ever-changing needs and demands of current and prospective employees. The days of simply offering basic health insurance to entice individuals to work for your company are long gone.
In a less secure work environment where benefits costs are rising and turnover is a growing and costly concern, employers need to get more creative with what they offer their employees and how they determine where to spend their precious benefits dollars.
In addition to comprehensive and complementary benefits, employees are looking for ways to gain more insight and a greater voice with regard to benefits offerings. Most employers review the company’s benefits package on an annual basis but many do not take additional steps to solicit employee input and feedback.
Smart Business spoke to Renay Gontis, the communications coordinator for JRG Advisors, the management company for ChamberChoice, about using employee feedback to develop the most effective benefits program and a more positive work environment.
How do you determine the needs of employees?
The process of determining employee needs can become somewhat simplified if, over time, it becomes part of the company’s everyday existence. If an employer wants to be perceived as caring this cannot be achieved by any one activity but, rather, a series of actions and ongoing activities.
In addition to an open-door policy, keeping the lines of communication open, regular meetings with employees, performance appraisals and so on, you may want to consider conducting an employee feedback survey. The results of this exercise enable the employer to gain insight as to what is on the minds of employees while identifying potential areas of change within the benefits package offerings as well as the company overall (based on questions included within the survey and what the employer is looking to accomplish).
What is the importance of an employee feedback survey?
In today’s economy, employees are looking to employers for assistance finding solutions to everyday needs such as auto and homeowner’s insurance, dependent and elder care, financial planning, long-term care, identity theft and more. A survey allows the employer an opportunity to invite all employees to share their opinions and feedback. It also allows employers to discover whether employees might be looking for more information, for example, regarding what benefits are available to them or what changes are happening within the different branches of a company.
The survey should be short and concise and refrain from asking leading questions to ensure employees are not ‘steered’ to respond in a particular manner. Confidentiality and trust are also important components of the survey process. Employees are more likely to respond if they know their answers are confidential and will not negatively impact their job. Consider making the survey anonymous and the results aggregate so that employees feel comfortable being honest with their opinions.
How can an employer put a survey together, and what kinds of questions should be asked?
Prior to drafting a survey, identify what you want to achieve. Once you know what you are looking to learn, think about the questions you want to ask. When crafting your questions, be cautious about making them too open-ended. These types of questions are difficult to analyze, which can disrupt your results. For sample surveys and assistance formulating questions that meet your objective(s), your benefits consultant can be an excellent resource.
How can the employer properly communicate with employees?
Typically, the human resources department (even if it only consists of one person) is charged with educating employees about their benefits package. After potential changes have been identified, reviewed and put into action, it is critical that information is communicated prior to implementation in an easy to understand manner.
Employers may consider an employee intranet to enhance the communication process. An intranet enables employees to access their benefit materials 24-7 along with other company-related information. This is an innovative and creative way to stay in touch with employees, even when they are not in the office. This type of technology is advantageous to both the employer and employee as pertinent information is readily available at all times for employees to review at their convenience.
What are other ways to understand employee needs?
Another way to isolate missed opportunities to solicit constructive employee feedback is by conducting exit interviews. It can be viewed negatively when a person ends their employment, but employers can attempt to turn this into something positive and use it as an opportunity to learn. Exit interviews provide an opportunity to gain insight relative to what the former employee feels the organization is lacking, what made the new employment opportunity more appealing, what they suggest the company can do differently to ensure greater employee retention, and so on.
Renay Gontis is the communications coordinator for JRG Advisors, the management company for ChamberChoice. Reach her at (412) 456-7011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.