Recognition and reward have significantly more impact on retaining frontline talent than voluntary benefits. But, sadly, recognition is often an add-on or afterthought when it comes to employee benefits.
We believe that to make a real and positive impact, recognition and reward should lead the way.
Voluntary benefits bring issues
‘Employee benefits’: it’s a broad term. Senior managers and those in well-paid positions are often able to take advantage of valuable, flexible benefits offered and paid for by their employers. These might include flexible working, additional vacation days, health insurance, life insurance and childcare vouchers.
What we’re focusing on here is the frontline workforce, where benefits are predominantly voluntary benefits (mainly in the form of discounts). Access to discounts is useful, especially at a time of high inflation, helping with everyday living expenses.
The advantage for employers in offering voluntary benefits is that it’s cheap, compared with other forms of benefit: only involving the cost to access a platform that offers the discounts. This seems perfect for a large group of lower-paid, frontline employees. But, let’s have a closer look at the value and effectiveness of voluntary benefits.
What can prevent employees from using voluntary benefits?
A survey carried out by Aviva shows that 19% of employees asked have a lack of interest in the benefits, while 19% felt the benefit just wasn’t relevant to them. 18% pointed to a lack of information on accessing the benefits. Often, ‘clunky’ platforms and loopholes to quality of discounts can play a part in the lack of take-up. All this would suggest that the effort required by the employee isn’t worth the benefit; or that the effort required by the employer isn’t worth their time.
So, is it just a box-ticking exercise?
We’re constantly staggered that the answer to the simple question of ‘What percentage of eligible employees participate in voluntary benefits?’ can rarely be answered by employers. It makes the follow-up question of ‘What impact do voluntary benefits have on retention?’ null and void. It is anecdotal evidence, but it appears that some companies simply want to tick a box and hope it has the desired impact.
Appealing benefits help keep people engaged
Most companies with a large frontline workforce offer voluntary benefits. If it’s not unique to your business, why would the appeal of the benefits you offer have an impact on frontline talent staying with you? Unless your voluntary benefits are significantly more appealing than others, it won’t. Talented people looking to progress their careers won’t stay because their business can offer a 1% discount on an Amazon gift card: they’ll stay because they’re engaged and motivated.
Sustain a culture where employees’ needs are met
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often adapted for employee engagement. The most basic needs must be met to retain all employees, no matter how talented. These include pay, safe working conditions, job security and benefits. Offering a range of benefits is expected, and therefore it’s essential they are offered. But it’s the next few rungs in the hierarchy of needs where things get interesting: belonging/social and esteem/importance; having a culture of recognition amplifies feelings of contributing to a shared purpose; belonging to a community; being an authority on your topic; and being valued by your peers.
It is through a culture of recognition and reward that talented frontline workers will feel more engaged, more motivated and more likely to stay with you – because their needs are being met.
The value of a platform that measures impact
To create that culture of recognition, lead with a platform that understands the importance of abundant social recognition and clearly measures its impact on retention, improved service, higher levels of productivity and efficiency – as well as offering a range of benefits. If not, recognition will sit dormant as an afterthought on your benefits-first platform, and your frontline talent will leave to find an employer that regularly and publicly values and appreciates people’s significant contribution.
Learn about what happens when you put recognition and reward at forefront of your organisation by reading some of our customer success stories.