When it comes to retaining employees, companies must have a benefits strategy — which for some is key to reaching long-term goals for controlling costs and budget considerations.
Such is one of the findings included in the firm’s “Benefits Outlook 2017” study, which found that 78 percent of participating companies confirmed having a long-term benefits strategy (for between three and five years), while 69 percent acknowledged the impact a robust benefits plan has on employee health and productivity. Eighty-two percent said a benefits package is instrumental for reaching goals.
To conduct the study, Aon surveyed more than 43,000 private-sector employees from a variety of companies with at least 25 employees in Puerto Rico. Completed entirely online, the survey included questions about insured and uninsured benefits plans, human resources practices and policies, and strategy and plans for the future.
The sample of respondents “is significant because it represents an excellent representation of employees from a variety of industries, in tune with the reality of the current labor field,” said Wanda Conde, AON’s senior benefits consultant.
During the survey period, many of the employers said they had already implemented or were considering adopting some elements of the labor reform (Law 4 of 2017). After Hurricane María, AON conducted a second survey to confirm this trend.
It showed a significant increase in the adoption of these changes among the group of companies surveyed. The most outstanding change was in the probationary period. Prior to the hurricane, 41 percent of the companies had implemented changes, while the second survey showed that more than 80 percent of the companies have already implemented the changes.
The study also revealed that “well-being” benefits are becoming increasingly important. This includes perks such as student reimbursement programs, social activities and physical and emotional health initiatives, pet insurance, yoga classes and workstations with modules that allow the employee to switch between working in a sitting or standing position.
“The information gathered in this report is of great value because it allows companies to compare their benefits offer to their employees with those of other companies. This way, they are able to know how competitive their benefits are and will help them identify the areas that they could adjust according to their strategy,” Conde said.
For Conde, “Benefits Outlook 2017” is an X-ray of the important world of employer benefits.
“Puerto Rico is going through a period of great challenges: the economic situation, the recent changes in labor legislation and new generations,” she said. “This forces us to rethink our benefits strategy. On the other hand, faced with the increase in operational costs as a result of Hurricane María, employers need to reduce costs in other areas.”
Although modifying plans and increasing employees contributions are valid options that produce immediate results, companies must not lose sight of the fact that benefits programs continue to be an important tool to attract, retain and keep employees engaged, she said.
“The key is to identify cost-effective alternatives that generate value and satisfaction and help to counteract the revision or reduction of other programs,” Conde said.
“The challenge faced by human resources professionals is to quantify which benefit programs help achieve productivity, financial efficiency and commitment goals. Aon has tools available to meet these needs,” she said.