How To Train, Retain, and Maintain Office Diversity

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A major talking point in benefits consulting has been around the types of benefits that both prospective and current employees are looking for from their employer. High salaries and 401(k) programs used to be enough to satisfy the majority, however, what once made for a content workforce has evolved, and today’s employees are looking for benefits that align with their lifestyles. Think flexible and remote work schedules, paid leave and professional growth programs, just to name a few. With that said, what a business offers to their employees in the form of benefits and perks can impact the diversity, talent and quality of work produced in the work setting.

Over the next several blog articles, we’ll be discussing how you can succeed in a competitive job market through implementation of a well-rounded benefits program and what this culture shift in the workplace looks like. We hope this blog series will offer meaningful tips to help you attract, hire and retain employees of all different genders, races, ages, backgrounds and experiences, so that your company can reap the many benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Why Diversity Matters:

Diversity is an invaluable asset for both a business and its employees, bringing a myriad of benefits to an organization. Diversity means more than just gender, race and age. It also means educational background, internship and work experience, socioeconomic background, career path and even culture. Hiring a diverse workforce brings different perspectives, ideas and experiences to the table, contributing to improved resiliency, effectiveness and profitability of an organization. Effective companies solve problems well. Employees from diverse backgrounds and experience can look at the same problem through different lenses and find the appropriate solutions to complex issues. Employees, especially leadership teams, that are made up of diverse individuals can provide the following benefits to a company:

1) increased creativity and innovation
3) effective problem solving
4) improved financial performance 
5) enhanced ability to adapt to marketplace changes 
6) contribute to the attraction and retainment of diverse talent 

Organizations with above-average diversity scores reported a 19 point increase in revenue over those who had below-average diversity scores, 45% and 26%, respectively (BCG Diversity and Innovation Survey, 2017).  Much of that revenue was related to improved innovation as a result of diverse teams. Whether you are a for-profit or non-profit organization, diversity in the workplace clearly has its pros, the question now is how to attract, train, retain and maintain those diverse teams. 

Attracting a Diverse Workforce:

Offering a well-rounded benefits package to your employees means there is a good chance that there is something for everyone. A well-rounded employee benefits (and perks) package offers a variety of different benefit options, beyond the typical health insurance, that appeal to the variety of lifestyles that employees engage in and that can help individuals solve real-life problems.  A company that offers a diverse and well-rounded benefits package is seen by employees as committed to work-life balance, as taking an interest in their employees as human beings, essentially reflecting an employers commitment to their employees well-being, both physically, financially and mentally now and into the future.  A company that offers a wide-range of benefits will appeal to a diverse candidate pool and drive higher retention rates, as employees will be less likely to look elsewhere for enhanced benefits that meet their needs.

Successful companies create internal programs, resources, networking groups, and offer useful perks and benefits after listening to employees and supporting efforts they’re interested in. This not only supports diversity but has the added benefit of creating a closer and invested workplace community. 

Below is what a well-rounded package may include. It is not feasible for every company to provide every single benefit or perk listed, but providing benefits from each category is a great place to start. There is always room to build upon packages as resources become available. 

Physical Health

a) Good health, dental and vision insurance: How often or how little one uses their insurance benefits differs for everyone. Some individuals require more frequent doctor visits while some only use their benefits for preventives services. Having a variety of plans that allows employees the option to pay a higher premium with lower out of pocket costs, or lower premiums with higher out of pocket costs (with an HSA!), or a middle ground, gives employees control over choosing the best option for their personal needs. 
b) Gym Reimbursement Program: Gym memberships or fitness classes can be expensive, but exercise is scientifically proven to help reduce stress and decrease risk of chronic illnesses, which can be expensive in the long run for employers. Employees who are active are also more productive and overall healthier than their non-active counterparts. Providing employees with a program that can help reduce the cost burden of an exercise facility or regimen and even provide a variety of options to incentivize less-active employees to exercise more, can attract and retain talent. 
c) Telehealth: Providing Telehealth Care (often embedded in insurance plans) can help to keep insurance claims down. These services may either be free or require a copay, and are a convenient option for employees who are unable to take time off from work to go to the doctor, but who need a consultation or prescription for themselves or a dependent. 
d) Fertility benefits: Fertility treatment is expensive and navigating the fertility world can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Employers are beginning to offer fertility benefits either through health insurance or a separate vendor as a way to help reduce the costs and gray areas around paying for and finding appropriate fertility treatment centers and resources. 

Financial Health

e) Retirement plan / 401(k): Retirement is top of mind for older generation employees as they near retirement age. They want to ensure that they will have enough money to live comfortably through their non-working days. Younger generation employees also would benefit from a retirement plan. The earlier employees can begin contributing to their future, the better off they will be. Providing a match is also an added perk if the company is able to do so. 
f) Student Loan Repayment Program: Student loans have become a huge pain point for new grads, but also for those who are currently funding, or plan to fund college tuition for a student. A program offered through an employer can help reduce the burden and make it easier to obtain and pay for a college degree.
g) Financial Education Program: Offering other types of financial wellness programs such financial education opportunities (budgeting, saving, investing workshops, etc.) can help employees take control of their financial situation and improve their financial health which is a large contributor to stress. 

Professional Growth:

h) Tuition Reimbursement Programs: With college costs soaring, individuals, both younger and older, are highly attracted to companies offering tuition reimbursement.Employees who take advantage are more likely to stay with companies longer, are more easily promoted and in turn can save employers money by promoting from within rather than recruiting from the outside. Younger employees can access higher education with less of a financial burden, and more seasoned employees can keep their skills up-to-date and relevant. Companies who provide tuition reimbursement also get a tax break.
i) Professional Development Programs: Individuals are attracted to opportunities for trainings that are relevant to their work and will help them excel in their careers now and later both in the form of actual training programs or Career Coaching. This applies to newer employees as well as more experienced employees who want to brush up on or learn new skills. An employer who provides professional growth opportunities shows they support their employees success both with their company and to help them move on in their career, if and when the time comes. 

Mental/Emotional Well-being

j) Mental Health Services:  Mental health is becoming an increasingly discussed topic in the workplace today. Workplace stress, whether it is caused by work or by personal events, can lead to decreased productivity, absenteeism, health problems and more. Mental health services are also becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Offering affordable access to resources in your benefits package either via an EAP, coaching service or licensed therapist service can be an invaluable benefit to your employees. 
k) Stress Management Programs: Professional led seminars that teach employees mindfulness, meditation and other coping strategies that help employees manage their full plates. 

Family and Lifestyle

l) Child Care Benefits and/or Care Giver Benefits: Finding child care can be difficult and expensive, which is partly why new parents, mostly mothers, end up leaving their jobs. Employers who provide child care benefits or care giving benefits show they support their working parents and recognize their value, allowing parents to continue in their careers. 
m) Paid Time Off: (Vacation, sick, personal) All individuals need a break to unplug and unwind away from the office. Offering a healthy amount of PTO allows employees to take time off from work, either for planned or unplanned and unexpected purposes. Life happens! Having a safety net provides peace-of-mind and lets employees know that their employer knows that life exists outside of the workplace.
n) Paid holidays and floating holidays, with the ability to use a floater to observe a religious holiday that isn’t offered company wide. Most individuals love the opportunity to spend the holidays with their families. Providing paid federal holidays, or time off for individuals to observe religious holidays is a nice perk that shows employees their employer respects their personal preferences and views. 
o) Flexible Work Schedule/ Ability to Work Remotely: Allowing employees to work when it fits into their schedule, as long as they complete their work and meet deadlines, is becoming increasingly popular. The ability to work from home or from remote locations can also take stress off of employees, especially those with longer commutes, or who maybe have to stay home with a child.
p) Life/ Disability Insurance: Unexpected accidents happen. Offering insurance that can protect employees from unforeseeable events that might put one out of work, and in turn a paycheck, can make employees feel at ease with their financial situations. 
q) Volunteering Opportunities or Charitable Giving: People, especially millennials, are very purpose driven. Many individuals donate their time or money to organizations that are important to them. It creates a sense of purpose, pride and can inspire employee engagement with each other and their communities.

How MBL Benefits Can Help:

As an MBL client, you’re familiar with our mission to deliver customized benefits solutions for employers with service that excels for your employees. MBL is an organization with over 20 years of experience and our average client has been with us for over 10 years. We are a privately-owned, independent consulting firm composed of active, hands-on principals and a team of Senior Benefits Consultants, who are supported by our professional Client Service Representatives. Our team works closely with each client, studying their history to learn and evaluate their specific needs and priorities. This methodical process enables us to recommend comprehensive short and long-term strategic plans. Aside from insurance related benefits consulting, MBL has a Wellness Team available to work with your company to build a robust customized wellness culture to support healthy behaviors. Providing your team with the tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle improves their morale and ultimately increases productivity, engagement and retention. 

By working with an MBL Wellness Coordinator, your company can identify areas for improvement where gaps in overall benefits offerings may exist. With MBL’s guidance, we can help determine what your employees want and need in a benefits program, and align them with the goals of your organization. Whether it’s developing ongoing initiatives, implementing new benefits, planning ad-hoc wellness days/events or launching a wellness campaign, MBL’s Wellness Team will guide you to define an effective wellness strategy, implement the program and support its success. 

In order to excel in today’s “employees’ market”, companies have to find ways to adapt to the shift in power. This includes giving employees what they want and need by focusing on providing benefits that will contribute to a diverse populations happiness, productivity and success, both in the present and in the future. MBL can help. 

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