By Alex Morgan
As a young professional who has worked in HR for many years and who surrounds himself with people in all facets of HR, I find it intriguing that there are so many different benefits packages out there. My first job in corporate America was administering defined benefit pension plans of my company’s clients. I, unlike many of my peers, was given the opportunity to learn, in depth, how companies used to reward their employees decades ago. To me, it appeared that companies put forth a lot of time and money in creating an employee benefit package that would greatly encourage employee loyalty with the promise of -essentially- free money for their retirement. Perhaps this was another method like social security where it pushes the responsibility off onto the shoulders of future generations to pay for the costs of today. I saw some truly significant and impressive tenures lead to some significant pension annuities and, on the other hand, I spoke to some retirees who were truly stunned how little they would be getting monthly after spending years of their lives working for the same company.
When applying to companies during, and after, college, I remember that the advice I was given was to use this first job to get some good experience under my belt and then springboard off in 2 years to a new company. It would appear that the focus on company loyalty is no longer a priority as it is seemingly well-known that changing companies will drastically increase one’s salary as compared to staying with the same company and hoping they will have it in their budget to afford that 2% annual increase for which you might not even be eligible. Perhaps monetary compensation isn’t as important to some as it used to be especially when I hear that studies show that us young professionals are getting married later, buying houses later, and having children later than previous generations. With the technology to obtain the answers to any of our questions in seconds, it would seem that the focus has shifted from the future to the present. I remember my mom telling me that as she was in the hospital after just giving birth to me, she was already counting the months until my high school graduation to calculate how much she would have to put into savings to make sure I go to college. I don’t know of anyone as forethinking regarding future financials and livelihoods as my mom, despite the fact that she was late to her own wedding! HAHA (forgot the flowers 🙂 ). I wonder if companies have realized that the young professionals of today are more interested in the savings and benefits of today than the planning for tomorrow.
So how do companies maintain their competitive edge when we have been told that we need to get a better job every 2 years and when our focus is seemingly more on what discounts we can get through our company and when we can go home. I feel that compensation is still a strong factor, but the true way to retain strong talent and to obtain fresh talent is by having the strongest benefit package. With the age of the internet and a significant following of others’ reviews on websites like Yelp and Glassdoor which shape our own perceptions, it is important to offer a strong benefits package which you can not only articulate, but your employees are aware of and can articulate it themselves. Those review websites give outsiders a look through the eyes of past and present employees into the inner workings of how a company rewards its employees. However, many potential candidates are, rightfully so, hesitant to take what they read in reviews at face value. I always have that thought in the back of my head that the 5 star reviews are from the entity itself and the 1 star reviews are from its competitors. Sadly, it is very difficult to trust the veracity of the company’s many reviews.
So how do companies combat this? Well, they post the benefits they offer to employees on their public website career page. We decided that it would be a great resource to record all that data from the top-rated companies for benefits and/or culture. Do these companies place a focus on being transparent about their benefits? If not, how could they be considered the best companies to work for in regards to their benefits and