Treating Employees Well Might Be the Most Important Benefit

Employers are scrambling to fill open positions more than a year after the country began reopening from COVID shutdowns. In what is being called the Great Resignation, millions of employees have walked away in search of greener pastures elsewhere. Employers are attempting to respond with better pay and new benefits. But are they missing the most important benefit of all?

Health insurance and retirement plans immediately come to mind when people think employee benefits. In fact, we have done a good job convincing ourselves over the last 50 years that people need these two particular benefits to be successful and happy. Yet something about the COVID experience changed that. So much so that a younger workforce is questioning its commitment to the old employment model.

Treating Employees Like People

Perhaps the most important employment benefit of all is treating people well. More money is nice, but people value their dignity more than their paycheck. They would rather earn less and be treated like people than take home a bigger paycheck while being treated like a piece of equipment.

Are you familiar with Costco? The nationwide club retailer goes out of its way to offer benefits above and beyond health insurance and a retirement plan. The company also pays its employees well above minimum wage in most cases. But it is the way Costco sees benefits that really separates them from most of the rest of the retail industry.

Here are just some of their unusual benefits, according to a recent Yahoo! Finance article:

  • Free Memberships – It is not much, but Costco employees get four free memberships annually. One is for them while the other three can be gifted to others. The free memberships cost the company very little. Meanwhile, employees and their friends and family shop at Costco.
  • Sunday Differential – It can be difficult to find people willing to volunteer for Sunday shifts. Costco eliminates the need to force Sundays by offering differential pay. Take a Sunday shift and you automatically get time-and-a-half.
  • Free Turkeys – Costco helps employees celebrate the holidays with a free turkey. Each employee is entitled to a bird that can be claimed at any point between mid-November and Christmas.

None of these three benefits is terribly spectacular in and of itself. But combined, they give Costco employees the perception that the company genuinely cares about them as people. That truly makes a difference.

Money Can’t Buy Happiness

There is an old adage that says money cannot buy happiness. A lot of people learn that lesson too late in life. Fortunately, the younger workforce is figuring it out even now. They are coming to realize that better health insurance and a higher salary do not go very far if their daily jobs make them miserable.

Meanwhile, older workers are now working for longer. They are working beyond retirement age because they cannot afford to fully retire. BenefitMall, a brokerage general agency, is encouraging its brokers to take advantage of the situation by giving more attention to the senior market. But there is a catch: seniors need benefits that differ from what they had access to as younger workers.

Furthermore, seniors want to be treated like human beings, too. A benefits package that meets them where they are goes a long way to accomplishing that. Benefits tailored to seniors make them feel as though their employers truly care about them.

Today’s employee benefits are less about financial compensation and more about treating employees well. It turns out that treating people well is probably the most important benefit of all.

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