Article: How employee benefits are reshaping talent retention

Benefits & Rewards

How employee benefits are reshaping talent retention

How companies are adopting new ways to take care of their employees' needs and meet changing expectations to retain top talent.
How employee benefits are reshaping talent retention

Rewards and recognition have been an effective tool to keep employees engaged and satisfied at the workplace. HR leaders are waking up to the reality and prioritising benefits like health & wellbeing, flexible work options, and training & career development. In addition to traditional benefits, organisations are also not hesitant to adopt new changes to provide comprehensive support to their employees.

According to the Asia Employee Benefits report data, released by CIPD, meeting employees' expectations is the core focus area for employers in Asia. They are concerned about meeting employee expectations to attract and retain talent. The report highlights that having a robust employee benefits (EB) package to take care of the diverse needs of the multi-generational workforce will support talent attraction and retention.

Indian startups like Swiggy, and Razorpay are among other organisations tweaking their policies to accommodate expectations of the new-age workforce. Recently, fintech unicorn Razorpay announced an extension of benefits to siblings, adopted or third children, as well as critical illnesses like HIV/AIDS and PCOS, extending the coverage beyond the traditional spouse-and-children model.

Traditionally, pay, medical and basic leaves, health policy, and other benefits have been on top of the list. However, the changing work culture has also changed the way organisations used to reward their employees.

Besides bonuses and other monetary benefits, organisations have included flexibility, appreciating people for random acts of kindness, and a boss making coffee for you are thoughtful approaches towards rewarding your employees at the workplace.

In addition to extended maternity and paternity leaves, some of the companies in India have come up with 'pawternity leave or policy for their employees. To take care of the medical requirements of furry babies, pet insurance has also started gaining pace in India. Employees are also given pet bereavement leave in some of the organisations.

Online food delivery app Swiggy recently announced a Paw-ternity Policy for pet parents in their organisation.  "The policy recognises and honours employees' role in caring for their furry/pet companions," mentioned Girish Menon, CHRO, Swiggy.

In 2017, HarperCollins Publishers India (HCI), probably was the first in India to introduce 5- working days of paid leave to employees who have just adopted a cat, dog, or other type of pet.

Organisations like CollarFolk, a startup that curates pet-friendly holidays, Simpl are among other organisations that have been offering leaves for its employees adopting a pet. 

“We recognise that our diverse team has unique needs and motivators. We have tried to deeply understand the unique needs of our employees across their lifecycle and aim to support them across different phases of their lives, which is reflected in our people's benefits and policies,” says Sneha Arora, Chief Human Resources Officer at Simpl.

According to Sneha comprehensive people policies enable employees and support them in their personal and professional commitments. “While policies such as vacation, menstrual leaves, surrogacy, adoption, and long-term wellness leave apart from parental, and wellness leaves enable people to take time off to take care of personal requirements; examination leaves, financial support for upskilling and internal job postings to enable a seamless domain shift to help them excel and accelerate their careers.”

In addition to traditional leaves, Simpl also launched programs such as ‘Simplaud’. “It is an employee recognition program to recognise top performers and motivate them to excel further. We host many events at our workplace focussing on various aspects of wellness –sports championships, comicon, chess or carrom tournaments, financial wellness webinars, and health check camps to ensure we foster physical, emotional, mental, and financial well-being for our teams.”

For Sneha, employee experience is about creating moments that matter across all aspects of an employee’s journey. “There are various touch points such as sending hampers to our employees at the birth of a child, marriage, or even when people are recovering from serious illnesses.

To foster employee satisfaction, AON believes that there should not be a one-size-fits-all strategy.  “Achieving a strategic balance between appreciation, incentivisation, reinforcement, and emotional connection is crucial,” says Amit Kumar Otwani, Associate Partner, Talent Solutions, India at Aon.

According to Otwani, this requires a multi-faceted approach where each element serves a specific purpose, catering to the diverse needs and motivations of the workforce.

Otwani says that, while broad-based initiatives like peer-to-peer recognitions and spot awards nurture appreciation and cultivate a culture of recognition, more exclusive programs such as quarterly and annual awards drive incentivisation by celebrating high-impact achievements.

With the use of insights from advanced data analytics, organisations can make better decisions to strategically integrate various elements, and craft a comprehensive R&R strategy that ensures every employee feels valued and acknowledged throughout the year.

Personalisation is expected to be the key

Anticipating changes in the way employees will be rewarded and recognised in the next 5 years, Sneha believes that personalisation will be the key change.

“Over the next few years, the industry is expected to witness an increase in personalisation. AI-led innovations will power this personalisation at scale, fostering inclusion by catering to the unique needs and motivations of a diverse workforce,” says Sneha.

Otwani highlights that companies are now placing more emphasis on using recognition as a tool to drive behavioral change. “This includes reinforcing values, strengthening culture, and promoting behaviors aligned with business goals.”

According to an Aon study, digital platforms for rewards and recognition (R&R) have become prevalent, with over 90% of companies using online platforms to collect and analyse data focusing on specific metrics to assess program execution, such as efficiency, measurability, and sustainability. Moreover, companies are moving beyond just recognising high performers and are now also focusing on desirable behaviors to cultivate a culture of recognition. “This shift involves balancing recognition across different program elements, such as high-frequency peer-to-peer appreciations for behaviors and performance awards for results,” explains Otwani.

Future trends in rewards and recognition

In the next five years, Otwani anticipates significant changes and innovations in the way employees are rewarded and recognised. Aon's study shows that currently, around 70% of companies heavily emphasise the monetary value of awards in their recognition programs. However, there's a growing awareness of the need to leverage social and emotional value more effectively. While only 50% of companies currently do so and less than 25% focus on emotional value, this shift presents an opportunity for companies to enhance the perceived value of recognition while also potentially optimising costs.

One innovative approach that is gaining traction is the concept of emotional connect in recognition programs. This emphasises the importance of how recognition is delivered, with personalised and heartfelt gestures being key. By focusing on the emotional impact of recognition, companies can create a more meaningful experience for both the recipient and the giver, fostering a sense of shared accomplishment and strengthening relationships.

Engaging employees' families in the recognition process is one strategy that can significantly enhance the emotional impact of recognition. This involvement not only extends the appreciation beyond the individual employee but also strengthens bonds within the family unit, contributing to a more positive work-life balance.

Overall, these anticipated changes reflect a shift towards a more holistic and emotionally resonant approach in rewards and recognition programs. The goal is to create a workplace culture that values and celebrates employees in meaningful ways, fostering a deeper connection and commitment to the organisation.

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Topics: Benefits & Rewards, Rewards & Recognition Technology, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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