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Arming Middle-Market Companies with Benefits to Attract Top Talent

How well do your benefits attract today’s top talent?

Despite best efforts to contain costs and broaden coverage under the changing health-care-reform political landscape, providing employee benefits remains one of the largest and most confounding cost drivers for employers. Many employers and resource-constrained HR managers ruefully undergo the annual insurance renewal ritual of declining coverage, increased compliance and rising costs, which may average 25% for middle-market plans in 2017. Companies strive to strike the delicate balance of offering competitive benefits and mitigating employee disappointment with rising contributions and declining coverage.
This disappointment shows up in insidious ways in reduced employee engagement, loyalty and morale. At the same time, many HR managers face the false choice of presenting a talent management strategy while having little direct control of the health-care budget, which is typically in the hands of their CFOs. Against this backdrop and in an environment of increasing competitive pressure
on the topline and margins, the key to winning the benefits war is having clear tactics and strategies anchored in a philosophy toward investing in people. It is this investment that, if executed properly, can yield long-term returns including reduced turnover and increased workforce productivity.

Keeping the military analogy, an army led by a general who equips soldiers with low-grade body armor will be decidedly less motivated to charge the next hill — and much more mutinous when casualties are suffered. By contrast, soldiers with the very best protective equipment will not only remain loyal to their mission, even under duress, they will remain ready to take personal risks
for their enterprise. In civilian life, employees just as seriously view their employer’s stance and investments in their wealth, wellness and well-being. All too often, the employee-employer relationship is adversarial and the annual benefits presentation is the battleground. What is lacking, particularly among middle-market businesses, is a clear set of tactics and strategies and an overarching philosophy toward people. All too often, these approaches are largely reactive, as many middle-market employers fiercely battle larger employers for talent. With politically charged
changes in health-care regulations, it is now time for employers to be creative and demarcate where they stand when it comes to their people philosophy.

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