Rethinking Benefits Packages to Attract and Retain Healthcare Talent

Senior Director of Marketing

The healthcare industry faces many challenges for sustaining an active workforce. Ongoing talent shortages, lower retention rates compared to other industries, and shifting workforce dynamics all contribute to the issues affecting healthcare HR professionals. While there are many different ways to approach talent acquisition and retention in healthcare, one area that can be overlooked is the role of the benefits package.

Here are some of the latest findings and best practices in HR benefits and how to better utilize them to meet your healthcare organization’s talent needs.

Health Insurance and Retirement Benefits Remain Key to Attracting and Retaining Talent

A 2017 study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) found that companies that offer health and retirement benefits still have a competitive advantage over those that do not, when it comes to attracting the best talent.

Other findings from the latest EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey (WBS) include:

  • One-third of workers (32 percent) are only somewhat satisfied with the benefits offered by their current employer, and 20 percent are not satisfied.
  • One-half (49 percent) are extremely or very confident that their employer will continue to offer a similar benefits package three years from now.
  • Two-thirds are confident in their ability to make informed benefits choices. Yet, nearly as many would welcome benefits advice from a third-party advisor or an online program.

Employers are Increasing their Benefits Packages

Nearly one-third of organizations increased their overall benefits offerings in the last 12 months, with health (22 percent) and wellness (24 percent) benefits being the most likely ones to experience growth, according to the latest Society for Human Resources Management Employee Benefits Survey. “An attractive benefits package that includes professional development support and flexible work options that rival those of an organization’s competitors could help with employee retention and recruitment,” the report states. These types of benefits are becoming more popular among employers. SHRM’s research shows that 16 percent of organizations increased professional and career development benefits, while 14 percent increased flexible working benefits.

A Diverse Workplace Calls for Increased Programs

With a changing workforce that is more diverse than before, employers need to consider the needs and preferences of each group like Apple began a few years ago. “For the first time we’ve probably got four generations in the workplace at the same time, and we need a plethora of programs,” the company’s head of HR, Denise Young Smith, told Fortune in a 2014 interview. That year, Apple unveiled the following benefits in order to address the diverse needs of its workforce:

  • Longer parental leave,
  • Education reimbursements for all classes taken by employees,
  • Expanded donation-matching program, and
  • Subsidized student loan refinancing.

Key Generational Differences on Health Benefits

Apple made a smart move to focus on the needs of its diverse workforce, as studies have shown there are key differences across age groups. A 2017 analysis by EBRI found there are major differences between younger Millennial workers and their older Gen X Baby Boomer colleagues when it comes to how they view and use health benefits. “It’s important for employers to understand differences in generational cohorts to better adapt to a changing workforce,” Paul Fronstin, Director of EBRI’s Health Education and Research program, states in a press release.

The following are among the key differences the study found:

  • Millennials value and are more satisfied than other generational cohorts with aspects of plan management that are directly within a plan sponsor’s control. However, they are slightly less satisfied with health system features that plan sponsors have less control over, including quality of care received and doctor choice.
  • Millennials are more engaged than other generational cohorts in healthcare choices, including some costly for plan sponsors. However, they are more likely to request a brand name drug over a generic.
  • Plan sponsors may have more leverage to encourage Millennials to stop smoking. While they have the highest rates of regular exercise and normal weight, they are more likely to smoke. Nonetheless, the higher engagement rates represent an opportunity for employers to decrease smoking rates among this generation.

While your healthcare organization’s employee benefits package may not be the only answer to solving your talent acquisition and retention issues, research shows it can be effective in improving these areas. By catering to your workforce’s needs, including being mindful of generational differences in preferences and needs, you can develop an effective benefits program that can yield the benefits you seek.

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