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To Recruit & Hire the Class of 2021, You Need to Boost Your Benefits

Jul 30, 2021 | United Agencies Corporate Blog

As companies face the tightest labor market seen in decades, they must consider all aspects in the fight for talent, and there is one feature that is often overlooked … Employee Benefits.

The talent shortage the market is currently experiencing means qualified professionals have more choices than ever when it comes to their workplace, which is why companies must find ways to get creative with benefits and stand out from the competition. However, while many companies are offering sign-on bonuses, increased salaries or flashy perks to win over talent, meaningful benefits can outweigh those all.

According to data compiled from a survey of more than 2,000 recent graduates by staffing, recruiting and culture firm, LaSalle Network, the top benefits this young talent is looking for are medical coverage, 401(k) match and flexible hours. Here’s how organizations and leaders can leverage these benefits to stay competitive and win over top talent — all while retaining current employees.

Medical benefits
Providing quality healthcare is a priority for entry-level talent, and providing a strong health insurance plan can be among the most effective ways to attract and retain top talent. It can also help boost productivity and improve employee morale. In the LaSalle Network report, 40% of respondents stated mental and emotional health was among their top three concerns about entering the workforce. Providing top health benefits to these candidates will not only attract them to your organization but will aid in long-term job satisfaction and retention.

Over the last year, Americans have reported record-breaking levels of stress, leading to increased rates of burnout. Employee mental health is closely tied to productivity and engagement, meaning the decline in mental health can affect a business’s bottom line. Increased anxiety and depression correlate with increased accidents and mistakes at work. Benefits like employee support groups, EAPs, access to wellness apps like Calm or Headspace are all great options to offer employees to take control of their physical health and mental health.

401(k) match
After experiencing the economic downturn of the past year, entry-level candidates are taking their financial wellness very seriously. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how fragile financial security is and heightened financial-related stress across the country.

Financial stress is harming employee productivity, engagement and mental health. Paying for an unexpected accident, saving for significant life events, and saving for retirement are just some of the top sources of anxiety for employees. 401(k) plans are one way to show employees and candidates that the organization is dedicated to their financial well-being and success.

If a 401(k) match is not an affordable option, organizations can offer other financial wellness benefits to stay competitive with entry-level talent. For instance, consider offering financial wellness programs, which help employees develop confidence and learn how to handle their money at their own pace, and they enable employees to turn their hard work into economic security. Other financial wellness opportunities could include budgeting classes for employees, investment opportunities, or tax preparation help. These programs help employees take control of their financial wellness and help alleviate stress while promoting productivity.

Flexible work
While the class of 2021 has been learning and working from home over the past year, remote work is not as important a benefit to offer them as flexible work schedules are.

Flexible hours could mean several different things, such as modifying the days or hours of work or allowing employees to work some of the time remotely. Offering flexible hours and schedules to attract candidates can take many forms without negatively impacting productivity. The idea behind flexible work is that it does not matter when work is completed if productivity and output remain consistent. Entry-level talent is looking for positions with flexible hours for several reasons. The first is that flexible work lends itself to give employees a better work-life balance. These schedules allow employees to adjust their hours if they have familial obligations. Flexible work also empowers employees, and it gives them an increased feeling of personal control over their schedule and work environment. Employees can work when they are most productive, so the early birds and the night owls can work when it best fits their productivity peak times.

For organizations looking to begin implementing flexible-work policies, there are several ways to start. First, do a trial run. Designate one department or a small group of employees to try flexible schedules for a month. That way, your organization can work out any problems and gather data on how this change will impact employees. Another way to test out flexible work schedules is by offering different options to employees. For example, offer employees a typical 9-to-5 schedule, an 8-to-4 schedule, and a 10-6 schedule. That way, most of employees’ time is still spent in regular working hours, but the organization can experiment with flexible work and see what works best for all employees.

Benefits such as medical care, 401(k) match, and flexible work are the most popular amongst entry-level talent, but there are many benefits organizations can offer and still stay competitive. As companies recruit talent in one of the tightest labor markets, there is no better time to evaluate what is part of the benefits package and how company leaders are showcasing them throughout the recruitment process.

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