5 Emerging Benefits Trends You Should Know

By Gene Cabrera|Feb 23, 2022|10:10 pm CST

The past year has seen employee turnover reach an all-time high, and you’ve likely experienced it at your own business. Workers are reevaluating their jobs in record numbers, and many are not afraid to work at companies that better meet physical and mental needs.

For businesses, retaining employees (and hiring in the first place) has become the number one prerogative – just to keep the lights on. Stories abound of restaurants seeing wait times skyrocket, hotels having to limit amenities, and retailers having to reduce operating hours due to lack of staff. Employee turnover greatly hampers throughput and cuts into available revenues.

While many businesses may not have the resources to raise pay or provide traditional benefits (i.e., health insurance and 401k plans), some creative thinking can create a work environment employees want to remain at without driving up expenses.

To ensure your benefits package remains competitive, consider everything from minor PTO changes to full-scale small business HR outsourcing.

Expanding Paid Time Off

It can seem counterintuitive, but smartly expanding PTO offerings actually goes a long way toward retaining employees, especially with small businesses that may lack the financial resources of brand-name competitors.

Sick leave has taken on greater debate over the COVID era, but even if the pandemic ever ends, workers will continue to appreciate knowing they will not lose out on wages if they must miss work due to illness. Additionally, trust between management and staff grows when employees don’t have to risk illness themselves working alongside sick coworkers.

Long accepted without further thought, the idea of two-day bereavement leaves are increasingly coming under scrutiny. Rushing back mourning employees only contributes to lost productivity and burnout, and once that happens, quitting becomes only a formality. Ensuring staff have enough space to mourn close losses gives them the time necessary to return to work at full productivity.

Expanding vacation time (or offering vacation time where it doesn’t currently exist) is another great way to retain employees. Employees have lives outside of the workplace, and supporting a healthy work-life balance reduces burnout.

Bulk Benefits

Like major credit cards and membership associations, large brands have the resources to pool together significant discounts across myriad products and services, which they’re able to offer employees. Whether discounts on travel, events, retail shopping, or wellness shopping, giving employees greater access to products and services is an effective recruiting pitch.

While most mom-and-pop businesses don’t have the resources to create these types of discount plans, small business HR outsourcing companies exist that do. Going this route also frees up management from HR administration to complete more front-of-house tasks.

Offer Training and Continuing Ed

Traditionally, professional training has been seen as a route to losing talent, but lack of upward mobility in many service jobs greatly contributes to The Great Reshuffle. Entry-level employees don’t want to stay in their positions forever or wait years and years for natural promotion. Providing cost-effective courses in Hospitality Ops, Certified Hospitality Professional certification, or Retail Project Management increases your teams’ buy-in through a roadmap to professional growth.

Every service industry workforce is filled with ambitious high schoolers, college dropouts, and degree holders alike. While offering even partial tuition reimbursements to encourage greater workplace mobility may cause some employees to find higher-paying jobs elsewhere, it can also be an effective way to source and refine in-house managerial talent.

Hilton recognizes the value of uptraining employees, offering skills training and professional certifications. If a global hospitality leader thinks continual training and apprenticeships make for sound long-term retention strategy, they’re probably wise options.

Establish Healthy Boundaries

Workers have reevaluated the employee-employer social contract since the pandemic began. Gone should be the status quo of pre-2020. If you want to retain your talent through a positive workplace culture, you’ll need to rethink how you relate to employees.

The option for a four-day workweek ensures better overlapping shift coverage while granting workers more days off. While most front-of-house jobs are way outside the 9-5 timeslot, a four-day workweek could be an enticing option for corporate employees.

For your hourly talent, offering fairer hours goes a long way toward building trust and retention. Despite notable wage gains, many businesses under-schedule part-time service employees in the name of flexibility. While this benefits managers in the short term, employees who as a result have hectic schedules or cannot make the hours they desire will look for employers who can better respect their requests.

On the same note, employees desire advanced scheduling notice. Having to cancel plans because of last-minute schedule changes makes anyone feel disrespected and contributes to burnout. Some local governments have taken this into their own hands, but businesses outside the jurisdiction of Fair Workweek legislation would be wise to minimize last minute schedule changes.

On-Demand Pay

With inflation on the rise, hourly workers have struggled to keep up with rising prices for rent, groceries, and other necessities. On-demand pay, where employees have the option to access earned wages as soon as immediately after a shift, provides a way for employees to pay as needed.

Rather than having to wait two weeks for the next direct deposit, your employees can flexibly distribute the earnings they’ve amassed as financial responsibilities come due. The hope is to reduce financial stress, which 80 percent of employers say negatively impacts employee morale and productivity.

Offering instant pay to employees means your current talent is less likely to burnout and more likely to stay in place, and hiring employees becomes easier when you have a real benefit your competitors don’t offer.

For HotSchedules customers, Fuego offers earned wage access – while syncing with HotSchedules data. In addition to early paycheck withdrawals, workers with HotSchedules and Fuego can view their clocked shifts to calculate available funds and view earnings potential for upcoming shifts.

In the ultra-competitive fight for talent, every dollar spent toward attracting and retaining workers needs to have maximum effect. Finding ways to mix low- or no-cost offerings with small business HR outsourcing gives your organization the greatest bang for its buck.

Looking for more resources on benefits management? Read more on how Fourth’s HR and payroll solutions free up your time and resources while ensuring your workforce enjoys a competitive benefits package.

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