employee engagement

This One Thing Can Drive Employee Engagement with Their Benefits

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

Education is a vital if oft-overlooked, portion of any outstanding employee benefits package. Employers may not understand its importance, but education can make a world of difference in the engagement in and effectiveness of, your employee benefits plan.

Per BenefitsPro, many large employers report year-long engagement rates among employees and their benefits plan to be less than 10 percent. One of the biggest reasons for this lack of engagement is that employees are having a hard time understanding how their benefits work.

In 2017, only 52 percent of employees claimed to understand their health benefits. In other words, your employees aren’t educated enough about their benefits plan. Similarly, a Maestro Health survey found 62 percent of employees say their employee doesn’t act as a resource for healthcare-related questions. This lack of education pushes your staff to avoid taking full advantage of their benefits.

book shelves

To get the best bang for your benefits buck, you need to educate your employees. This article will detail the effects of benefits education on both employees and employers. Additionally, we’ll tell you how education can boost employee engagement and the steps you can take to build a benefits education program of your own.


Effects of Benefits Education on Employees

Poor benefits engagement can have a significant adverse impact on your employees. Luckily, education helps your employees by assisting them to understand their benefits better, which allows employees to engage in their benefits and use them more efficiently. Plus, as employees are educated, and better comprehend their benefits better, they’ll begin to engage with their benefits plan more often.

Similarly, education can help team members understand the cost of their benefits. Once employees understand the costs of their plans, they can become smarter healthcare consumers. According to a study by HealthMine, 70 percent of healthcare consumers don’t do any type of price shopping.

benefits education

And, 25 percent of these consumers say they don’t price shop because they either don’t know how or find it too difficult or time-consuming. But benefits education can demonstrate the importance of price comparison shopping for healthcare and remove some of these anxieties surrounding healthcare that keep members from maximizing the effectiveness of their benefits.

Also, the better your company-wide benefits engagement, the healthier your employees tend to be. Per BenefitsPro, organizations with high benefits enrollment are shown to have healthier employees.


Effects of Benefits Education on Employers

As previously mentioned, the more engaged your employees are in their benefits, the healthier these individuals are. The healthier your employees are, the more engaged and productive they are, which has a significant impact on the success of your company. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lost productivity costs U.S. businesses as much as $225.8 billion annually.

Plus, when your staff becomes healthier, your firm pays less in healthcare coverage for employees. And, per Zanebenefits, employers now pay an average of $5,179 annually for single employee health coverage and $12,591 for family coverage. These costs, when multiplied by your eligible employees, can become exorbitant.

Poor benefits engagement can also lead to increased financial stress on your staff’s behalf. According to the Financial Fitness Group, over 80 percent of employees have been affected by financial stress. And this financial stress costs U.S. firms close to $300 billion a year in unscheduled absenteeism, reduced employee productivity and higher employee turnover.

financial stress

A significant factor in financial stress in this country is healthcare. Today, Americans spend more money on healthcare than any other developed country. And, per a report from the Kauffman Family Foundation, more than a quarter of Americans say someone in their household is struggling to pay medical debt.

As you educate your employees about their benefits, they become more engaged with their plans and can become better healthcare consumers. The better your staff understands their benefits program, and engages with the healthcare system, the less likely they are to incur unnecessary, or unreasonable medical expenses.


How Education Can Improve Employee Engagement

Research by Unum has demonstrated the importance of education on your employees’ engagement with their benefits plan. According to the study, there’s a strong, positive connection between the quality of benefits education an employee receives and their perception of their employee benefits package.

Not only do these employees value their benefits plan more, but they also have a more positive perception of their workplace as a whole. Unum’s research also detailed employees who believe their benefits were effectively communicated are more likely to show higher levels of engagement, morale, and loyalty.


Steps to Build a Benefits Education Program

1. Mobile Onboarding/Enrollment

People are using mobile devices now, more than ever before. Global mobile traffic now accounts for 52 percent of all Internet traffic. In the U.S. over 70 percent of all U.S. Internet traffic was through a mobile device. Your company should use this mobile technology for benefits enrollment, and employee onboarding.

social media strategy

Mobile technology lets your employees access their benefits program, and review plan information on their time. So, if you want your workers to engage with their employee benefits, it’s vital you utilize benefits enrollment technology in your workplace.


2. Detail and Outline Voluntary Options

Voluntary employee benefits are crucial in filling potential gaps in health insurance and protecting your employees and their beneficiaries. Also, these voluntary benefits improve recruiting and retention and can enhance your employee’s well-being. Make sure your employees understand what each voluntary option is, and how they can aid your workers and their families.


3. Use Multiple Methods of Communication

Forms of communication for benefits education are like Lays potato chips. You can’t have just one. Leverage different forms of communication to account for differences in individual learning style or familiarity with healthcare terms and preferences, among your employees.

Email, company intranet, face-to-face meetings, social media, and videos are all different forms of communication your company should consider. The more points of contact your business uses, the more likely your employees are to see and comprehend the information they need. Make sure you use different types of communication for different intended audiences to maximize the effectiveness of your communication.


4. Ask Questions/ Know Your Employees

Your HR department, or benefits consultant, must ask questions not merely answer them. Different employees require different benefits, and it’s your job as an organization to make sure all your staffs’ needs are met. And, the only way to meet these needs, is to know precisely what they are.

two men talking

To understand your employees’ needs, you must first get to know them. What are their concerns, interests, and demographics? If you want to build a benefits program tailored for your employees, you must first answer these basic questions.


5. Utilize Gamification

Employees often believe benefits are too complex or tedious to understand fully. So, as an employer what do you do to simplify these concepts and get employees to pay attention? One of the best ways to grab employee’s attention while also educating them is through gamification.

Providing your staff with gamified incentives to learn about their benefits options can spark true engagement between your employees and their benefits. Gamifying your benefits communications can attract interest in topics that would otherwise seem to be confusing to engage with.


6. Educate Year-Round

Your company should share benefits communications year-round, not just around the time of open enrollment, to increase benefits engagement. And this year-round education should include both those enrolled in benefits and those who haven’t. Many individuals choose not to enroll in a benefit due to a lack of knowledge surrounding a particular product.

For example, BenefitsPro, 68 percent of those without HSAs said that knowing more would make them more likely to sign up. Communicate educational materials to all your employees, on a year-round basis to boost the positive effects of benefits education.


7. Invest in Education

One of the more obvious, yet vital, strategies your company can use to improve employee education is to invest in your educational plan. Your firm needs to spend a proper amount of time, money, and focus on educating staff on their employee benefits.

Marketing materials, benefits enrollment meetings, and time with employee benefits advisors can all be costly regarding both time and money. Still, your business has to be comfortable investing this money if you want the maximum, positive return from your employee benefits plan.


The Wrap

Staff engagement with their employee benefits is imperative for a thriving and prosperous benefits program. And, through education, you can inform and empower your employees to fully engage in their benefits. Consequently, the more engaged your employees are with their benefits, the more likely they are to be satisfied with both their benefits and employer writ large.

gender pay gap

The Gender Pay Gap is Actually More Significant Than You Think

Most people know women in the U.S. make around 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. So, the gender pay gap for women in this country has long hovered around 20 percent. But recent research from the Institute of Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) suggests this number may be much more significant than we previously believed.

In this article, we’ll tell you what this new research found and what it means for your employees. Plus, we’ll let you which 5 benefits you can use to reduce the gender pay gap.


The Tale of the Tape

According to the study by the IWPR, in 2017, the gender earnings gap was 20 percent. Which means women earned 20 percent less than men. This figure is based on the ratio of women’s to men’s median earnings for full-time, year-round work. Though, as the study argues, this commonly used annual figure likely understates the problem.

So, the authors of the study decided to analyze the gender wage gap over 15-year periods, rather than year-to-year. Using a longer time frame yielded compelling results for the researchers. A multi-year analysis provided a more comprehensive picture of the gender wage gap.

Researchers measured total earnings across the most recent 15 years for all workers who worked in at least one year. Through this multi-year study, researchers found women workers’ earnings were 49 percent of men’s earnings. Which puts the actual women’s wage gap at 51 percent. A much greater figure than the 20 percent that’s typically used.

But, that’s not the only interesting number this study uncovered. According to the researchers, the penalties for taking time out of the labor force are a primary driver behind the gender pay gap.

Annual earnings were 39 percent lower for women who took just one year off from work, compared to those who worked all 15 years. This 39 percent is a much higher cost than women faced in the period beginning in 1968. During that 15 year period, one year out of the workforce resulted in a 12 percent reduction.

It’s important to note men are also penalized for taking time from work. But this penalty is significantly less for men than women. Per the IWPR study, women’s earnings losses for time out of the workforce are almost always higher than men’s losses.

Similarly, an essential part of the gender pay gap has been women’s weak labor force attachment. A total of 43 percent of today’s women workers had at least one year with no earnings. This percentage is close to twice the rate of men.


What Can Your Business Do?

As a business owner or employer, you’re not able to address some of the deep-rooted societal issues that are responsible for the current gender wage gap. Still, there are multiple actions any organization can take to help improve this disparity in women’s pay. Here are the benefits your firm can use to reduce the gender pay gap:


1. Paternity Leave

Paternity leave is the first benefit your business can use to decrease the gender wage gap. As the research noted above points out, women who take time out of the workforce make significantly less money over their careers than their peers. This phenomenon is especially prevalent in the U.S.

In 2014, research from Harvard economist Claudia Goldin reinforced this fact. Per Goldin’s research, the wage gap in the U.S. was largest for women in their 30s. In other words, the gender pay disparity is greatest for women in the U.S. during women’s prime, childbearing years.

This research exposes the bias behind another couple of shocking statistics that illuminate the roadblocks to equal pay for women. Per A Uterus is a Feature, Not a Bug, working mothers are half as likely to be promoted and earn an average of $11,000 less in salary.

Paid maternal leave is the obvious solution to lessen the impact of the obstacles facing working mothers. But maternal leave only creates another difference between working men and women and does nothing to alleviate the stigma attached to taking paid leave to care for your child.

Instead, your firm should offer paid parental leave to push both working mothers and fathers to take time off for the birth or adoption of their child. The more working fathers take leave, the more we challenge the notion that males should be a household’s breadwinner, and females the caretaker.


2. Development Opportunities

Career development opportunities are the second benefit your firm should use to address the gender pay gap. According to research by the Work Institute, the top reason for employee turnover was a lack of career development opportunities. Similarly, a WorldatWork study, from earlier this year, found the most significant increase in total rewards during the next 3 to 5 years will be in career development.

woman typing

Similarly, last year, the Employee Experience Index uncovered which practices are vital for an employer to create an enticing working experience. The number three most crucial part of the employee experience was feedback, recognition, and growth (all components of development).

So, your employees desire development opportunities. That can be good news! Your company can use career development to help narrow the gender wage gap. For example, implement a program that builds the skills of women who’ve taken time out of the workforce.


3. Flexible Work Options

The third benefit your business should consider is flexible work options. Flexible work options include flexible location, flexible schedule, and flexible time. Each of these options gives working women, especially working mothers, flexibility to work around the other demands of their lives such as childcare or caring for an aging parent.

A Gallup poll found 53 percent of stay-at-home mothers say flexible hours or work schedules are a significant factor in their ability to take a job. Flexible work options could help attract and retain valuable female employees who otherwise wouldn’t even consider taking the position.


4. Return to Work Program

Another compelling benefit for working mothers is a return to work program. Providing extended paid time off, such as paternity leave, is a tremendous benefit for working moms. But when an employee takes an extended leave, there needs to be a plan to reintegrate these employees back into the workforce.

Plus, return to work programs can be used for more than just returning parents. Employees with disabilities, recovering from an addiction, returning from a major illness, or coming back from the birth of a child are all examples of those who would benefit from a return to work program.

Return to work programs allows employees, to slowly reacclimate to the workplace. With this benefit your staff can get comfortable again in their role at a reasonable pace. Rushing staff back from an extended absence could leave an employee overwhelmed or overstressed.


5. Monitor Raises and Promotions

The final benefit your company can use to close the gender wage gap is to monitor your raises and promotions. Another contributing factor to the gender pay disparity is the fact women are 40 percent less likely than men to receive a promotion, according to a 2017 study by Visier.

This fact holds true even though women in 2017, per the same research, were 21 percent more likely to achieve “top performer” status than men. And, women managers were 22 percent more likely than male managers to be rated as “top performers.”

Similarly, per a 2018 PayScale study, men are 70 percent more likely to be in executive roles than women, by mid-career. By late career, men are 142 percent more likely to be in VP or C-Suite roles. Additionally, per a recent Pew Research Center study, women held only around 10 percent of top executive positions at U.S. companies in 2016-17.

So, if your company wants to lessen the gender pay gap, make sure to monitor your raises and promotions. It’s impossible to close the gender wage disparity if women aren’t promoted at the same rate as men. Plus, once a woman is promoted into a leadership role, it makes it more likely even more women will be promoted within your firm.


The Wrap

Most people probably agree it’s a good thing to pay women the same amount men get paid for doing the same job. Still, how to go about achieving equal pay is less apparent for most. Your business can use these five employee benefits to attack the causes of unequal pay and turn back the gender pay wage gap.

employee value proposition

Which Benefits Impact Your Employee Value Proposition the Most?

There are a seemingly countless number of factors to consider when looking for a job. But, there are a couple of questions every person must ask themselves when considering a job opportunity. Per TalentLyft, candidates need to ask, Why should I work for your company instead of somewhere else? And, what’s in it for me?

The answers to these questions make up your organization’s employee value proposition. In this article, we’ll define an employee value proposition, which employee benefits impact it the most, and how an improved employee value proposition improves your business.


What is an Employee Value Proposition?

An employee value proposition (EVP) is a set of values an employer offers to your employees and job candidates. In addition to acting as a recruiting tool, an EVP can be used to engage and retain your staff. Your firm’s employee value proposition is meant to define your company and how it’s different from your competition.


Which Benefits Matter the Most?

According to Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Report, 9 in 10 C-Suite executives said they expect talent competition to increase in the upcoming years. With this rise in the talent competition, it will become more imperative for organizations to utilize their employee benefits to attract and retain top-quality candidates in your field.

employees working on computers

But which benefits specifically are the most important when building your employee value proposition? The two employee benefits that impact your EVP the most, according to a recent study by Mercer are career development and meaningful work.


Career Development

Earlier this year a WorldatWork study found the most significant increase in total rewards during the next 3 to 5 years will be in career development. Employees no longer want to use their own time and money for career development. They expect their employer to help them achieve their personal and professional developmental goals.

Last year, the Employee Experience Index uncovered what practices are vital for an employer to create an enticing workplace experience. Feedback, recognition, and growth (all part of development) were rated the number three most crucial part of the employee experience.

Also, employees want growth and development opportunities in real-time. They desire these opportunities as performance occurs rather than through a formal or infrequent process. To accomplish greater employee growth, your firm needs to focus on forming a culture of continuous development.


Read more about the benefits career development can bring to your organization.


Meaningful Work

Meaningful work, per the Employee Experience Index, is the single greatest contributor to a positive employee experience at work. Twenty-seven percent of respondents chose meaningful work as the most crucial practice for an attractive workplace experience.

employee writing

Most humans have a natural desire to search for meaning in their job or lives. As an employer, you can’t bring purpose to your staff’s personal lives, but you can describe the meaning behind their work. And detailing the “why” behind your work improves your employees’ performance.

When employer and employee values are aligned, your business benefits. According to Globoforce, employees who clearly understand company values exhibit 17 times more engagement. Like career development, your company must imbibe meaning in every part of your organizational culture.


Read more about the importance of meaningful work.


Why do These Benefits Matter?

Clearly, your staff desires both development opportunities and meaningful work. But, what do these benefits do to improve your organization as a whole? Well, meaningful work helps engage employees, which translates to increased productivity.

According to the Harvard Business Review, workers who create meaning in their work tend to work harder, more creatively, and with more tenacity. Those who find meaningful work are:

– Three times more likely to stay with their organization

– Four times more engaged at work

– Seven times more likely to experience higher job satisfaction

Each of these numbers demonstrate the impact of meaningful work on an employer’s bottom line. When employees experience meaning at work, their employers enjoy higher rates of client commitment and investor interest.

Career development offers similar potential boosts to your business as meaningful work. Investing in the development of your staff improves loyalty and engagement. When an employer invests in the development of their employees, it helps align employee and employer goals.

This alignment helps to grow relationships within your organization and foster employee loyalty and job satisfaction. Multiple studies have demonstrated the tangible, positive impact development benefits such as mentorship can have on your business.

A 2013 survey by MicroMentor, found mentored businesses increased their revenue by 83 percent while non-mentored companies increased their revenue by only 16 percent. Similarly, information from MentorCloud reports mentoring can increase managerial productivity by 88 percent when managers are involved in a corporate mentorship program. This number is a significantly higher percentage than the 24 percent increase for managers given training but no mentorship.


The Wrap

When looking to improve your company’s recruitment and retention, you must first look to develop your employee value proposition. Ensure this development through building career development and meaningful work for your employees.

great boss

Why a Great Boss is the Most Underrated Employee Benefit

When you think of the best employee benefits, what do you picture? Is it health insurance, paid time off, or maybe flexible work arrangements?  One thing you’re likely not imagining is your boss. Even if you’re one of the lucky few with a great boss, most people don’t consider their supervisor a benefit.

But those with a poor supervisor understand just how important a great boss is to positive workplace culture. A bad boss can cause employee stress, decrease employee retention, and impair productivity. In this article, we’ll detail the effects of a bad supervisor on an organization, signs of a subpar manager, and why you should promote your great bosses more.


Effects of a Bad Boss

1. Less Engagement

There are several notable adverse effects a bad supervisor can have on your business. The first adverse effect a bad boss has on your organization is a decrease in employee engagement. According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager report, managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores.

This statistic demonstrates how your managers are likely the reason for any specific employee being engaged or not. A bad boss can have the same amount of adverse effect, as a good boss can have a positive one.


2. Lower Retention Rates

The next result of a bad boss is lower employee retention. According to Gallup’s study, one in two employees have left a good job to get away from a bad manager, supervisor, or overall negative work environment. Similarly, a survey by Randstad found 60 percent of respondents said they’ve left jobs or would consider leaving because they don’t like their supervisors.

employee retention

A bad boss is one surefire way to push employees out the door. Even if you fairly compensate your employees, and offer a sound benefits plan, a poor supervisor trumps all.


3. Poor Health

Finally, a bad boss can have an adverse effect on your employees’ health. Per Science Daily, bosses who display psychopathic or narcissistic traits have a significant adverse impact on your staff. People who work for these kinds of bosses feel more depressed and are more likely to engage in undesirable behaviors at work.

According to three different studies, those who work for supervisors who displayed these traits had lower job satisfaction and scored higher on a clinical measure of depression. Similarly, other studies have shown a bad boss raises a worker’s chance of having a heart attack by as much as 60 percent.

blood pressure

Because subpar bosses cause their employees so much stress, it does actual harm to your employees’ physical health. Researchers have found working for a bad boss was more of a risk factor for heart disease than smoking, lack of exercise, or being overweight.

So, having a bad supervisor is a double-whammy for your staff. Employees feel miserable while at work then that misery follows them home which compounds their stress and negatively affects their well-being.



1. Promote/Hire the Right People

There are three significant actions your company can take to avoid the copious amount of adverse effects from a bad boss. The first action your firm should take is to promote the right people to leadership positions. According to Gallup research, only about one in 10 people possess natural talent to manage.

women meeting

And, most of the time, that one person isn’t the one who’s promoted or hired as a boss. The two main reasons people are usually promoted to management have nothing to do with excellent management ability: tenure and mastery of a previous, non-managerial role.

Competent people management is its own skill set. For most people who stood out in a previous role often, the transition to a managerial role can be rough. So, get your organization to focus on promoting individuals based on their leadership ability and management skills, rather than their mastery of non-managerial skills.


2. Recognize the Signs

The second action your firm should take is to recognize the signs of a bad boss. You can’t promote or hire quality leaders with 100 percent accuracy. But, you can train your leadership team to recognize the signs of a poor manager. The quicker you recognize poor management practices, the quicker you can repair the situation.

stop sign

A 2017 study by Bamboo HR found the top signs of a bad boss. These signs include:

  • Take credit for stuff they didn’t do
  • Don’t appear to trust or empower their employees
  • Don’t seem to care if their people are overworked
  • Hire and/or promote the wrong people
  • Don’t provide proper direction on assignments/roles
  • Micromanage employees and don’t allow them “freedom to work”
  • Focus more on employee weaknesses than strengths
  • Don’t set clear expectations

Your leadership team must know and recognize these signs when they see them. According to a Rand poll, one-fifth of Americans find their workplace hostile or threatening. Your workplace will become more welcoming and less intimidating, the better your organization is at recognizing the signs of a bad manager.


3. Advertise

The final action your company should take is to advertise your good supervisors as a benefit. While most people may not think of a great boss as an employee benefit, research says it is. One study found 56 percent of employees would turn down a 10 percent raise to stay with a great boss.

A quality manager is a real benefit that boosts employee attraction, engagement, and retention. Publicize your great bosses as a part of your employee value proposition and make sure candidates understand the real benefits they’ll gain from working with a talented manager.

The intangible benefits and positive day-to-day experiences associated with a quality supervisor are invaluable to your employees’ engagement and retention. As previously discussed, most employees will switch jobs, even if it means making less money, to get away from a bad boss. So, it’s your organization’s job to promote your managers as the significant employee benefit they are.


The Wrap

A bad boss, more than any other one thing, can destroy your employees’ engagement and morale. And unhappy employees are less productive which makes your company less profitable overall. Having a great boss is the most important employee benefit you don’t think about.

employee advocacy

How to Use Employee Benefits to Build Employee Advocacy

Employees talking positively about their place of work is good for business. It’s something every company should pursue. But figuring out that part is easy. How do you get your employees to become advocates for your organization?

Creating employee advocates is a delicate process. Your organization can’t force your staff to become advocates. So, your company has to promote advocacy without forcing the issue. One of the best means to encourage advocacy is through your employee benefits.

Employee benefits promote a healthy and engaged workforce. And the better your staff feels, the more likely they are to be happy with your organization and their role. Consequently, the more likely these employees are to become advocates for their employer.

Before we detail how to use employee benefits to boost employee advocacy, we first have to answer a couple of essential questions. What exactly is employee advocacy? And, how can it help your business?

What is Employee Advocacy?

Employee advocacy is the publicity employees can create for their employer, by sharing content with their networks. For many C-Suite employees, this advocacy may seem unimportant or tangential towards improving the bottom line. In fact, there is a multitude of benefits employee advocacy can offer your company.


How Can Advocacy Help?

Employee advocacy can have a positive impact on multiple facets of your organization’s operations. Here are seven facts that demonstrate the power that employee advocacy can hold:


1. 6 percent of sales personnel using social media to boost their sales performance, outperform their peers.

2. Highly engaged workforces deliver 147 percent higher earnings per share.

3. Employee advocates are connected to 10x as many people like their brand.

4. Because of they are more connected, advocates can increase the reach of brand content by 561 percent.

5. Posts shared by advocates get 8x more engagement than those shared by their brands.

6. Leads collected as a result of employee advocacy convert 7x more often.

7. A leading information and communications technology in Japan, Fujitsu, experienced a 360 percent ROI through employee advocacy.


What Benefits Can Boost Advocacy?

Your firm can use its employee benefits program to advance worker advocacy. These benefits are important because advocacy is something your company can’t simply buy or force. You have to build advocacy over time, and your firm’s benefits are the perfect starting point.


Social Media Training

In 2017, social media is nearly ubiquitous. Over 80 percent of Americans had a social media account in 2017. So, while more and more people may be familiar with social media, they may not know how to maximize their usage. Your employees will have different levels of social media expertise, and training could be a valuable resource for some of your staff.

social media icons

Similarly, thanks to mobile technology, it is now easier and easier to post anything at any time. This ease-of-access can get workers, and their employer in big trouble. So, train your employees on the ins and outs of social media.

Create a comprehensive social media policy, and ensure your employees understand it. Having a concrete social media policy can alleviate employee fear when online. When it comes to sharing content your workers should know what is and isn’t appropriate. This will make it easier for them to become online advocates.


Rewards and Recognition

The next, and most obvious, benefits that can improve employee advocacy are rewards and recognition. If you want to highlight the importance of advocacy to your staff, reward them for it. Show your employees what social sharing means to you, through rewards. For example, a small bonus, company swag, free meals, or gift cards are all possibilities.

Substitute recognition for rewards if your company is strapped for cash. Marketo recommends demonstrating how sharing relevant content will build their credibility. You can also recognize employees through an award program.



As previously stated, you cannot force employees to become advocates. One of the best employee benefits, especially for promoting advocacy, is to give your staff meaning in their work. The more connected your workers are to their job, the more likely they are to be true advocates.

thumbs up

And meaningful work benefits your business too. Employees who find their work meaningful are:

  • 3x more likely to stay with their organization
  • 4x more engaged at work
  • 7x more likely to experience higher job satisfaction

Each of these statistics is meaningful in regards to employee advocacy. As previously stated, satisfied employees are more likely to become advocates.


Learn more about the powerful effect of meaningful work.



One of the best ways to create advocates is to give them trust and freedom within both their respective role and the organization as a whole. This independence provides your employees a greater sense of freedom in their job. Consequently, this freedom has positive effects on employees’ well-being and job satisfaction.

There is an assortment of employee benefits that boost employee autonomy. One benefit is flexible work. Flexible work arrangements, which include flexible location, hours, and schedule, are vital to advancing employee autonomy. These arrangements allow your employees to choose where and when they get their work done during the week.

flexible work

Another employee benefit that’s essential for a more autonomous workforce is PTO or paid time off. Eliminate traditional time off systems, and replace it with PTO to increase workers’ flexibility. PTO gives your employees one bank of paid time off from which they withdraw time, throughout the year.

This system of time off, like flexible work, gives your employees maximum flexibility. Your staff no longer has to select between vacation and sick leave. PTO allows your employees to pick when and why they take time off.


The Wrap  

Employee advocacy can be an enormous advantage for any organization. When your employees are your biggest fans, your business wins. Use these employee benefits to build advocacy. Because the more advocacy you see, the better your business will be.

gender inequality in the workplace

4 Benefits to Combat Gender Inequality in the Workplace (Infographic)

What do we know about the global gender pay gap? Well, you should know that women, on average, still make only 80 cents for every $1 a man makes. But, this tired statistic is only the tip of the metaphorical iceberg.

Gender inequality in the workplace is not harming only women. It is hurting the companies they work for, and the global economy as a whole. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that narrowing the global gender gap could add $12 trillion to the gross domestic product.

Increasing women’s roles can have a similar effect on your organization. A study of gender diversity of firms in S&P’s composite 1,500 list demonstrated this effect. The study found that female representation in top management leads to an average increase of $42 million in firm value.

Gender diversity, like other diversity, helps to improve your company’s creativity and decision-making. These increases, in turn, help drive productivity and company success in totality.

We know that the fewer women there are in your organization, the harder it will be to claim success. But, how do we get more women in the workplace?


How do we decrease gender inequality in the workplace?

Decreasing gender inequality is one of those things (like trying to look cool while drinking a juice box or avoiding politics during Thanksgiving) that is much easier said than done.

Here at The Olson Group, we believe in the power of employee benefits. This belief extends to tackling this problematic gender pay gap. Your business can use its employee benefits to close any gender gaps within the organization.

Each of the following four benefits is capable of reducing specific barriers for women entering the workplace.


Benefits for Gender Equality by Anthony Jeanetta 


Benefits for Gender Equality

Feel free to share or embed this infographic on your own site. To embed click “Share” on the bottom left corner of the infographic, then simply copy and paste the code.

Learn more about flexible work arrangements and their potential benefits to your company.

fun at work

Fun at Work: An Oxymoron or a Key to Success?

The discussion around employee benefits usually focuses on tangible products such as health insurance, retirement plans, and flexible schedules. But, one of the best benefits you can provide your staff isn’t a particular product.

Fun. One benefit that both your employees and bosses will love is having fun at work. Now, don’t get confused, this discussion isn’t about creating a workplace full of constant love, hugs, sprinkles, and acoustic guitar covers of rap songs.

Rather, this discussion centers on making work enjoyable for a majority of your staff, for a majority of their time at work. Not everyone is going to have fun, and not everyone is going to have a good time at all times. As the cliché goes, it’s still called work for a reason.

Having fun at work is ultimately about your culture. Your leadership and HR teams have to be responsible for creating a responsible, yet loose culture that allows your employees to have fun at work.


How do you Have More Fun

There is no one, correct answer when deciding how you can get your organization to have more fun. That being said, here are eight methods to get you started.


1. Play Games

The purpose of any game (besides winning, for all you über competitors out there) is to have fun. Games are an easy, cheap, and quick way for your office to get some fun out of work.

Ping-pong, cornhole, or board games are all examples of cheap and easy games your office could use. Your company can also attach a small prize to these games as an incentive. This incentive can get employees engaged in whichever game you choose.


2. Form Office Teams

We already know games are an excellent way to have fun at the office. So why not play games outside of the office? Get different groups of employees together to compete in various sports leagues/tournaments, or competitions.

Form a sand volleyball team in the summer. Go to movie trivia night at a local bar. If your business is large enough, you can even compete internally. Instead of joining an existing volleyball league, host your own tournament.

Get all of your employees to participate, compete, and have fun together. Not only are these events fun for your employees, but they also help build employee cohesion and teamwork.


3. Laugh

This method doesn’t mean you should enforce a laugh quota, and force employees to laugh maniacally every hour like they are a crazed shipwreck survivor whose only friend is a tattered volleyball.

Rather, encourage your staff to be light, and enjoy their time at work. Promote a sense of humor and laughter. Show a funny clip before a presentation. Tell a joke before you ask a coworker for their help.

According to Business Insider, laughing assists in removing inhibitions. Without the burden of inhibitions, your employees (and you) are more open to new ideas, and new ways of thinking. Opening your viewpoint allows for more creative and outside-the-box ideas.

*It is worth mentioning that you should always strive to maintain professionalism, even with your jokes. If you have even an inkling that a coworker might be offended by a joke, DO NOT REPEAT THAT JOKE.


4. Decorate the Place

Spruce up that drab cubicle with some pictures of family and friends. Paint over those tragic, beige walls. The ultimate goal is to make your workplace somewhere that your employees enjoy being.

Encourage your staff to personalize their particular workspaces. You want your employees to feel comfortable and enjoy the place they have to spend eight hours, every day.

Ultimately, your office should be a stimulating place. You want your employees, recruits, and even clients, to walk away thinking your workplace is exciting and fun.


5. Work it Out

Get off of that chair, or Swiss ball if your one of those people. Get your employees together and get them moving. At least once a day, encourage your employees to join you for a short workout. Again, if you want to encourage participation, incentivize these fitness challenges.

Similarly, you can give your staff fitness trackers and allow them to monitor their health and physical activity. Or host a series of presentations about healthy living. Obviously, on a basic human level, you want your employees to be healthy.

But healthy employees also assist your business. According to Business Insider, more than 13 million working days are lost every year due to stress-related illness. Healthy employees, on average, are more engaged and more productive.


6. Leave the Office

Although it may be counterintuitive, get your staff out of the office and having fun. Join a sports league, go out for happy hour, or host a backyard barbecue. Socialize as a group, outside of your workplace.

Going out together and having fun is a great way to form relationships, and strengthen work teams. When you get to know your colleagues on a personal level, you can communicate better, which improves team effectiveness.


7. Celebrate

Celebrate birthdays and holidays with parties. Celebrations are great excuses for your staff to come together and have fun. Celebrating an employee’s birthday is especially impactful because it lets that employee know your company cares about them.

When celebrating holidays though, it is important to ensure you do not offend any of your employees. As a business, you cannot force any team members to celebrate if it goes against one of their religious or cultural beliefs.


8. Celebrate Success

Raises, bonuses, and promotions are all standard methods of recognizing individual and group, work achievements. Still when your office has success, even if it is a small success, celebrate it.

Throw a party; you don’t have to spend a ton of money, just get your staff together and get people having fun. When you celebrate success, your employees can feel good about the progress your company is making.

human capital development

These celebrations reward staff for their hard work, while simultaneously improving employee buy-in. Celebrating wins shows your workers that your firm is making progress. It can also highlight the importance of each person’s role in your company’s success.

Likewise, employees get to celebrate with your company as a whole. Celebrating success creates an association between individual and company-wide success. This alignment helps to boost employee satisfaction and engagement.


Why Having Fun at Work Matters

Chances are that if you march into your boss’s office and tell him/her that your workplace needs to have more fun, he or she will give you one of these looks:

On the surface having fun on the job may seem like a bit of an oxymoron. Businesses (at least for-profit ones) are designed to make money; everything else is secondary. And on a surface level, it might seem like a fun office should be the farthest thing from your leadership teams’ minds.

Still, if you dig a little deeper, your company could stand to gain a lot by just encouraging your employees to have more fun. A fun office can boost employee:

  • Retention
  • Engagement
  • Teamwork
  • Satisfaction
  • Creativity
  • Productivity

Anyone (who’s not Eeyore), will enjoy having fun at work. It’s truly your company that could benefit the most. A 700-person experiment conducted by the Social Market Foundation demonstrated these potential benefits.

Individuals after being shown a random 10-minute comedy clip, or given snacks and drinks, showed an average increase in productivity of between 12 and 20 percent.


The Wrap

Having fun at work is about creating a comfortable workplace that your employees actively enjoy going to on most days. A culture of fun can have a direct, positive, impact on your company’s bottom line.

So, if you don’t want to see your employees run (to a competitor) make sure they have fun.

social media in the workplace

7 Reasons Social Media in the Workplace can Help Employees

Tweeting inappropriate memes. Instagramming lunches. Facebooking a few office selfies.

These are the events companies fear will flood their workplaces if they let employees use social media on the job. Unfortunately, for businesses that ban the use of social media in the workplace, it is likely your employees are using it regardless of your policy.

According to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of workers reported they use social media while on the job. This data shows that while you may think your company is doing a good job curbing social media use in the workplace, it is likely not.

Employers should limit the time and energy they spend on stopping employees from using social media in the workplace. Instead, they need to focus on how they can channel social media use to benefit their employees.

Here are seven reasons social media in the workplace can help employees.


1. Allows employees to take a mental break

This reason was the number one purpose employees used social media while at work, according to the PRC survey.

Taking an occasional mental break from work is not something that should be discouraged. Many employers already encourage employees to take brief, periodic, breaks while working.

Allowing employees to use social media simplifies these breaks. Workers can now take a break when and wherever they choose rather than going to the break room to the read the paper or interrupting another employee’s work to talk to them.

Now, your staff shouldn’t spend their day stumbling through the office on their various devices. But, social media, when used responsibly, can give your workers the short mental breaks they need throughout the day.


2. Enables employees to make and support professional connections

Through social media sites, your employees can strengthen professional relationships with people outside the company. Then, these relationships can lead to opportunities that would otherwise not have been available.

More and better connections may result in sales leads, interest in employment, business opportunities, and new ideas. LinkedIn is specifically geared towards these types of connections and has a plethora of obvious business uses.


3. Employees can ask questions and solve a work problem

Social media can help employees when dealing with a difficult work problem. If an employee has an issue they can’t seem to solve, social media may be the answer.

Posing a question on social media is a simple and quick way to get several possible solutions. Even if none of the answers are used to solve the problem, the information they provide may spark to a new solution.

Sometimes an outside perspective is needed, and social media is a means to gain multiple new perspectives, quickly, easily, and for free.


4. Strengthens and builds personal relationships with coworkers

Coworkers can use social media to interact with one another and build better relationships. A stronger relationship among employees leads to more cohesive and productive work teams.

Social media is an easy way to encourage communication between employees and help to share ideas and increase engagement both while at work and at home.

Because social media is accessible almost anywhere, your staff is able to interact with one another even when not at work. The ability to interact outside of work will help boost employee morale and engagement. Your work teams, especially, could improve as they grow closer together.


5. Enhances information discovery and delivery

Similar to number three on this list, employees can use social media as a form of communication to discover and deliver job-related information. Social media in the workplace is another avenue for workers to find information that is relevant to the job or discover new information they can apply while on their job.

It is also a way for your employees to spread information about your company. This transmission of information can help with brand awareness and open up new recruiting and business opportunities.


6. Improves employee recognition and retention

Social media is a tremendous avenue for recognizing employee accomplishments, both internally and externally. Through social media, your company can give recognition to outstanding performance, work anniversaries, new hires, etc.

This recognition allows team members to interact, which works to build team cohesiveness. Employees can congratulate each other, keep up with the company’s current events, and interact with more of their colleagues.

The interaction and ability for recognition that social media provides can improve overall employee morale. Employees who are more engaged with their firm and their coworkers are more likely to stay in that business.

Social media can reduce your company’s turnover. Evolv, a big data firm, found a connection between social media use and increased retention. Their study of 39,000 hourly workers found that employees who used 1 to 4 social networking sites on a weekly basis stayed at their jobs longer than their peers.


7. Boosts organizational productivity

Contrary to popular belief social media usage may not negatively impact your company’s productivity. In fact, social media could actually unlock some productivity your employees have yet to tap.

A study by McKinsey Global Institute discovered that while 72 percent of companies are using social media, most are not using to its fullest potential. According to this research, if companies were to fully implement social media use (including an internal social media site) they could improve employee productivity by 20 to 25 percent.

Every business wants their employees to be more productive. Social media is an easy-to-implement and inexpensive method that can positively affect your company’s productivity.


The Wrap

Social media has spread rapidly and undergone massive changes. It now stands as a near-ubiquitous commodity; social media in the workplace is almost unavoidable.

Rather than police your employees use of social media, encourage them to use it productively Demonstrate and reinforce the ways that social media can improve employees and the workplace overall.

Treat the use of social media in the workplace as a performance issue. Employees should be focused on their performance, rather than whether or not they can sneak in a selfie.



addiction in the workplace

Addiction in the Workplace: How to Help Your Employees

Addiction costs the U.S. more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity, and health care expenses, according to a study by Cigna and the American Society of Addiction Medication.

Similar to any other physical or mental health illness, addiction comes with a price. And for addicts who are active in the workforce, this price is paid (at least partially) by their employer.

For example, according to data by Castlight Health Inc., opioid abusers cost employers nearly twice as much in medical expenses alone, as non-abusers.

Those suffering from addiction are more likely to use workers comp and be sick, absent, or less productive in general.

In total, Workforce reports that people abusing drugs use three times the amount of sick benefits. These individuals also use five times more workers’ compensation claims. Clearly, addiction takes a toll on both the employer and employee.

Employees struggling with addiction need help. This much is evident. But what isn’t evident is how providing employees with the help they need makes as much business sense as it does personal sense.

Here are the benefits your company can provide to help alleviate addiction in the workplace.


Why provide treatment?

Before we dive into what benefits your business can use to ease the burden of addiction, there is a simple question that needs answering.

Why provide treatment? Why not simply run drug tests and terminate anyone who doesn’t pass?

Well, the easy answer is that drug testing is ineffective. If you test on the hire date, employees will simply stop for a few days beforehand. Testing your employees at random may be more accurate, but could alienate your staff.

Additionally, drug tests can detect substances that are used legally, as prescribed medication. Of course, it’s an employer’s right to determine what their employees can or cannot use while under their employment.

But this testing may lead to your company being forced to terminate high-ranking or high-performing employees. Your company may have a zero tolerance policy, but losing your best employees could lead to a talent void.

Businesses in states where medical marijuana is legal, or where prescription opioids are common, could run into this problem regularly.

Instead of testing your employees and then firing them, provide your staff with treatment. Offering treatment versus termination provides your business with several advantages.

The first being that you won’t have to fire a top employee for a positive drug test. Drug or alcohol abuse is bad for your both your health and productivity.

But, as already mentioned, firing top employees is simply not financially feasible for some employers. Promoting substance abuse treatment could allow your company to eliminate these negatives without firing the offender.

staffing companies

The second advantage is that offering treatment options to your employees creates both internal and external goodwill. Providing treatment opportunities demonstrates to your staff that you care about them, and their well-being.

Employees who feel their employer cares about them are more likely to be satisfied and consequently engaged.

Similarly, those outside your company will think better of your business. Your clients and the public overall are more likely to harbor positive feelings about your firm.

A final advantage of giving your employees treatment is that it is a tremendous recruiting tool. When you work to treat employees and heal them, it goes a long way towards the perception of your organization for recruits too.

Again, as with your employees, you show recruits that you care about their personal well-being.

religious holidays

To be clear, every employer has the right to terminate any employee for abusing a controlled substance. Still, no company is able to detect 100 percent of its employees who are suffering from addiction or substance abuse.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drug test your employees. But, if your company is focused only on how to catch these team members, instead of treating them, there will be a cost to your business.


What benefits should you provide?

The following benefits will help any employees who are struggling with the affliction of addiction in the workplace.


1. PTO

Paid time off, or PTO, is a paid leave plan that combines sick leave and vacation time. So, PTO gives employees a set bank of time off at the beginning of the year.

The difference between PTO and standard, separated, leave is that employees have a greater ability to choose when and why they are going to take their time off.

PTO grants those suffering from addiction, the capacity to take time off if they need to enter a rehabilitation program.

If an employee knows they are more vulnerable or emotional during a certain time, they can take time off without having to give advanced notice to their employer, as they would with vacation time.

With PTO, your employees can take this leave, and not have to worry about the stress of using unpaid leave.


2. Flexibility

There are two major ways to give your staff more flexibility. The first method is by providing flexible work options. Flexible work options allow your employees to choose when, where, or the number of hours they work.

Like PTO, flexible work options allow your team members to work around any needs they may have, regarding their addiction. The other method to give your employees flexibility is to alter their role as necessary.

Collaborate with your staff to alter an employee’s role, when necessary. If a team member feels their work is affecting their battle with addiction, a change in role may be imperative.


3. Wellness Programs

Wellness programs are vital when addressing employee addiction. Your business can use these programs to address addiction, and issues relating to addiction. For example, use wellness programs to fight the stigma against seeking help for addiction issues.

Through a wellness program, communicate the ways employees can seek help confidentially, and without risking their employment status.

Wellness programs can also be used to encourage an appropriate use of legal substances (i.e., alcohol, prescription drugs). Provide your employees with the factual, adverse effects of the excessive use of these substances.

A wellness program is a terrific system to provide employees the information they need regarding the harmful effects of addiction and substance abuse, and how they can seek treatment.


4. Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs, or EAPs, are work-based intervention programs designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal issues. These issues can range from marital, to financial, to substance abuse and mental health issues, or addiction.

Organizations usually offer EAPs at no cost to team members. Most employers operate their EAP through a third-party administrator.

Using a third-party administrator is crucial to the success of your EAP because employees have to feel comfortable discussing professional and personal problems.

Your staff needs to be able to talk about these issues with confidence. They cannot fear they are putting their jobs or lives in jeopardy.

If you administer your EAP, it could prevent employees from coming forward and asking for the help they require.

EAPs are a terrific way to point employees struggling with substance abuse or addiction, in the right direction, so they can receive the treatment they need.


5. Health Insurance

Health insurance is critical to helping staff members suffering from addiction. As an employer, it is essential to select a health plan that includes mental health and addiction coverage.

There is an extensive list of services your health plan should provide your staff. These services include: substance abuse screening, outpatient and inpatient treatment, medication, and counseling. Each of these services is essential for dealing with addiction.


The Wrap

To be clear, you cannot force your employees into treatment, but your company can promote treatment and encourage employees to take advantage of these options.

Addiction in the workplace costs U.S. employers over $120 billion in lost productivity alone, every year. It is imperative that you provide your employees with these benefits. Give your employees some reinforcements in the battle with their addiction.

Give your employees some reinforcements in the battle with their addiction.

performance reviews-working working-coffee

Strength Training: The Key to Improving Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are like Voldemort. They are so universally despised that most people avoid them at all costs; they won’t even say their name.

A recent survey from Adobe found that 22 percent of respondents admitted to crying after a review, and almost as many said they had quit. It’s worth noting that more men than women stated they’d both cried and quit afterward.

Clearly, neither men nor women enjoy this dubious process. Still, performance reviews, when done correctly can benefit the individual and conversely the company as a whole.

The trick to enhancing your review process seems simple but takes careful consideration and precision to execute. To maximize your firm’s performance reviews, focus on your employees’ strengths.


What goes into a good performance review?

Before we dive into strength-based reviews, we must first define what exactly makes up a good performance review. Too many companies are stuck using an archaic review process that can do more harm than good.


1. Increase the Frequency

Much like jorts, political hot takes on social media, and the musical stylings of Pitbull; the annual performance review needs to go away.

An annual performance review is not valuable to any of the parties involved. Annual reviews are inaccurate, unfair, and stressful. For example, by occurring only once a year it is easy for the manager to fall prey to the recency bias.

The recency bias means the manager only brings up positives and negatives that took place recently. Biases, especially subconscious ones, are less likely to be an issue the less time there is between reviews.

Annual reviews are likely a large factor in workforce dissatisfaction with performance meetings. According to a survey by Globoforce, 51 percent of employees believe that these reviews are inaccurate.

Similarly, employees don’t benefit as much because they aren’t given specific and relevant examples of their successes and failures as they happen. A lack of timely feedback can cause the employee to get angry or defensive during a review.


2. Make in Unique

It is important that every employee receives a review that feels personalized for them. Customizing the process has to begin with each employee.

Make sure employees are prepared for every meeting. This preparation means that employees have to take a proactive approach to their development and come with specific examples of what they’ve done well and what they’ve done poorly.

Additionally, after the meeting is over, have employees submit a recap to ensure that there are no informational discrepancies between them and management. Leadership is also responsible for contributing to the individualization of this process.

Your company’s managers have to continually keep records of particular successes and failures by each employee. Without this record, leadership will be unable to provide advice and coaching that will benefit the respective employee


3. Make it Personal

This component is very similar to the last. To get the most out of your employee reviews, it is imperative that your managers know their employees on a personal level.

To be clear, management doesn’t have to be best friends with every employee and hang out with them after work, but they should have a general sense of what is going on in an individual’s personal life.

Personal lives matter because they affect work lives. A death in the family, a breakup, any kind of trauma will affect that individual’s work performance. Knowing these things gives your leadership context to that person’s performance.

Also, having a one-on-one performance meeting with a manager that knows you on a personal level is a simple way to ease employees’ stress with regards to the process.


4. Be Objective

Research by TINYpulse found that 17 percent of managers themselves believed that manager bias is the most significant problem with performance reviews.

Eliminating as much bias as possible is key to having an accurate and fair performance assessment. To remove this bias Entrepreneur says to, “structure performance reviews around specific, measurable metrics.”

The more concrete data you can use, the better your company can avoid accusations of subjectivity, and overall the more beneficial your reviews will be to your employees.


5. Make the Process Goal-Oriented

Whatever happens in the review, every action should be used improve that individual’s performance. Make sure that any criticism is made in a constructive manner as to further avoid any defensiveness.

Part of making the review process goal-oriented includes ensuring you are asking employees the right questions. Your questions, like your criticisms, should be in the spirit of improvement.

As an example, Workforce says instead of asking what an employee wants to accomplish in the coming year, ask employees to provide a few concrete steps they will take to reach their future goals.


Strengths-Based Reviews

All of the above points are critical to owning and maintaining a valuable performance review process. The key to radical improvement and sustainable utility; though, is using strengths-based reviews.

Strengths are what your employees do well naturally. They are each individual’s innate talents. Yet, most business’s review systems are based on an employee’s weaknesses rather than their strengths.

A majority of reviews are constructed to improve your employees’ weaknesses. To turn what they do poorly, into something they can do well. This idea is fundamentally flawed.

According to Harvard Business Review, brain science has determined that we grow the most synapses in the areas of our brain where we have the most pre-existing synapses. In other words, the real areas of growth for us are our strengths.

So, in order for your employees to grow the most, and maximize their abilities, they need to focus on their strengths. It is up to your leadership to help employees hone this focus.

Now, this does not mean that your employees should completely ignore their weaknesses. Rather, it means that your staff needs to understand that weaknesses are the areas of least opportunity for growth.

Managers must work with employees, during performance reviews, to discover and define that individual’s strengths. All goals for that employee should be focused on improving these strengths, what he or she does the best.

It is only through improving their strengths that your employees can reach their full potential and become their most productive selves.


The Wrap

The best performance reviews are simple; focus on your employees’ strengths, not their weaknesses. This technique has proven results.

Research from Martin Seligman, Ph.D., and Michelle McQuaid demonstrated that when managers focus on employee weaknesses, performance declines by 27 percent, but increases by 36 percent when the focus is on strengths.

If you want to get the most out of your performance reviews, make sure you bark up the strong tree.