Max Goldman in his blog, The Performance & Talent Management Blog, writes about a recent survey by McKinsey that indicates HR executives overwhelmingly see employee benefits as being important in order to compete effectively. Particularly to be able to attract and retain top talent. However, says the study, most companies don’t understand what benefits employees prefer.

Then these companies better figure it out quickly because there is a whole different workforce than ever before with a war for talent going on. A new workforce that is characterized by:

  • Mobility. The average 34-year old has already worked for nine different companies in his or her brief career.
  • Distance. Approximately 10 million people work away from their corporate office at least 3 days a month.
  • Aging. There will be a growing group of retirees as the workforce shrinks.
  • Diversity. Most of the net increase in the workplace are women, minorities and immigrants.

The recent MetLife Study of Employee Benefit Trends provides some insight into what employees really care about. The MetLife Study has two interesting findings:

First, in this competitive market for talent, employees’ top consideration when trying to decide whether to join with/or remain with an employer is the "quality of coworker and/or customer relationships. The other two main criteria are the opportunity for work/life balance, and working for an organization whose purpose they agree with.

Second, life-stages matter. While workers experience many trigger events through out their careers, most of them admit they have trouble understanding which employee benefits are most appropriate. for them.

So maybe "what we got here is a failure to communicate." Communication that now has functionally oriented communication objectives:

  • How to communicate flexible benefit plans
  • How to communicate investment concepts for 401(k) plans
  • How to relate profit sharing plans to productivity and profitability
  • How to make employees better health care consumers and how to integrate wellness into  health care plans to impact upon costs

The challenge then is not just  find out what benefits employees want but to also make them relevant for this 21st Century workforce.

Click here for the link to Mr. Goldman’s article and click here for the MetLife Survey (52 pages PDF).