This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 23, 2005

Aggressive Benefits Will Woo Workers

As the year moves to a close, and as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, we pause to thank our citizen-soldiers--employees who are members of the National Guard and Reserve--and their employers. The men and women who serve us domestically and overseas deserve our salute. See more at end of this week's message.

Herman Trend Alert: Aggressive Benefits Will Woo Workers November 23, 2005

Reminiscent of the late 1990s, employers will offer much more aggressive benefits to attract and hold the talent they need. Recruiters and employee retention specialists will influence corporate policy makers to expand benefit programs in an increasingly competitive employment market.

We have already seen the return of concierge services. This benefit will be offered by large companies with in-house and contracted services. National and local providers will sell concierge services to smaller companies, as well, challenging concierge firms to be more creative, stronger in their outreach, and more responsive to needs and opportunities of valued employees. This field will soon become even more competitive, including numerous home-based businesses.

Employers hiring college graduates realize that these employees often arrive carrying a heavy load of student loan debt. Some sort of support to help reduce that debt is a most welcome benefit. The Office of Personnel Management of the US Government encourages agencies to use the federal student loan repayment program to "manage their workforce strategically" with loan repayment as a recruitment and retention incentive.

Under current law, a federal agency can repay as much as $10,000 of an employee's debt annually, not to exceed $60,000 for any one employee. Last year, 28 agencies provided 2,945 employees with more than $16 million in student loan repayment. With an aging federal workforce and the government's need to attract and retain skilled employees, this program offers valuable leverage. Expect private sector employers to compete.

Financial planning services will become popular again. Some employers will provide the support directly to all employees, or at least those with incomes above a certain level. Financial service companies will offer planning by in-house professionals; other firms will contract with Certified Financial Planners. Still other employers will offer the service on an individual basis, paid or subsidized.

Pet care programs are coming back. With features ranging from insurance coverage of veterinary bills to discounts on quality pet food, employees with domestic animals will be attracted to employers who care about that aspect of their personal lives.

What's next? Subsidized vacations based on longevity or significant contribution to company performance.

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