Benefits – From an Employee Perspective
Want to get creative with your employers in their benefits offering? Try moving away from the traditional programs and ideas to help them find some things that are relatively easy, directly relevant, and meaningful to employees.

Start with a couple of easy internal brainstorm sessions:

  • Look at current news reports – what problems are people largely struggling with outside of the traditional medical and lifestyle issues? Make a list of commonly reported-on issues.
    • For example - lack of savings, credit or loan difficulties, too much debt, lack of life planning
  • Look at your client base and partner or center of influence circles for companies that provide services in these areas.
    • For example, financial planners, attorneys, bankers

Work with these folks and see if they would be interested in directly targeting employees through some kind of employer-sponsored program.

Maybe the employers could offer a directory of services with discounts or a getting started coupon. For the employees, it isn’t necessarily even about getting it for free – it’s about the convenience and the pre-screened recommendation. In a lot of these cases, the providers themselves might be willing to make special offers under the umbrella of their marketing budget – as a sales person, wouldn’t you love to have a list of potential buyers handed to you? It makes a win-win for everyone.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate like an on-site daycare or gym. I had an on-site gym at one employer and the equipment was eventually sold and the space leased out to another company because it wasn’t valued or used. But our Costco memberships – now that was a different story! Back in the early days of Costco, it was a huge deal to work for an employer who sponsored their employees to be members. That itself was considered a great benefit – the privilege to buy a membership to something exclusive.

As an employee, of course I appreciated the medical benefits, but as I thought about things that I needed to handle in my personal life, I always wished my employers would share their resources with me and just make it easy for me to get things done. I’m sure I spent many wasted hours searching for services and solutions. I don’t have the expertise or time to research local attorneys to write up a will or settle a property dispute, but I have no doubt that through company connections, someone is connected to someone who would love my business.

As an agency, you’ve got connections with such a variety of local businesses that you could put to work for your clients, their employees, and the providers themselves. I realize there are EAPs that can help with a lot of things, but I’m talking about connecting local folks who are looking for new clients with other local folks who need help.

Instead of having employees sitting at their desks trying to find solution providers, give them a list with some incentives to try out your collected group of providers. That alone would keep me closely tied to an employer – and the employer may not have had to pay anything for this offering, except for time invested.

My personal wish list over the years:

  • Attorney for a will, basic life planning, and general advice
  • Financial planner
  • Home repairs – anything from handyman to pouring concrete to remodeling
  • Car dealership connections (my financial planner – yes, I found one – offered help with car buying, and I am eternally grateful just for the offer!)
  • Banker & realtor for home buying
  • Personal insurance review along with an education about what it all is (like umbrellas, and why do I want that life insurance?), and what I really need. Then the opportunity to purchase it. Things like this could even be offered as lunch and learn sessions just for the educational purpose.

What’s on your wish list that employers could offer outside of medical benefits?

Photo by Aoife Ni Mhathuna.