This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

August 11, 2004

Benefits Will Return

In the highly competitive employment market of the late 1990s, companies scrambled to offer new and different employee benefits to attract the job applicants they needed in the hot economy. In response to the economic slowdown, when corporate strategy shifted from hiring to layoff, employers reduced their investment in a wide range of employee benefits. Many of those benefits will be reinstated as recruiting and retention intensify.

Benefits providers, who also laid off many of their employees in the face of diminished demand, may be challenged to build their capacity fast enough to keep up with rapid growth in this field. As hiring picks up, and as employers discover how vulnerable they are to uncontrolled employee turnover, human resource professionals will be directed to increase benefits to attract people to join and stay with the employers.

Companies will attempt to compete through benefits offerings, and will enjoy some success with this approach. An increasing number of employees will still not be satisfied. Their loyalty can't be bought by the highest bidder in the compensation arena without a corresponding strength on the "soft" side: Visionary leadership, meaningful work, life-work balance, flexibility, and similar issues. Caring for employees can be enhanced with good benefit programs, but sincere, sensitive, supportive managers are the true power.

One of the benefits we see returning is concierge services. When employers provide these supportive services for their people, 50 percent are putting that energy back into work and 25 percent are spending more quality time with families, according to a recent client survey by Best Upon Request, a provider of concierge services. Study results indicate that 92 percent believe that having concierge services helps them balance their work and personal lives; eighty-seven percent agree that they are better enabled to focus on work priorities as a result of having this service.

Is this kind of service effective in keeping good people? A powerful 96 percent of employees answering "Agree" or "Disagree," confirm that having the concierge program increases their commitment to their employer. This positive response will stimulate more use of all kinds of benefits for employees.

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