Employee-employer expectations on pay and benefits often seem to be far apart. Determining what to offer employees in addition to their basic pay is not an easy task. Benefit options and employee desires are constantly changing, and it is hard to cost justify new benefits or price increases on existing benefits.

Employee expectations in our region have grown over the years and few organizations adequately use their benefit packages to entice new employees.

Younger employees have grown to expect many benefits, yet when evaluating a prospective employer, rarely consider the value, cost or necessity of those benefits being offered.

Health insurance is expected to be offered as part of a person’s employment, but as time has progressed, the cost of providing health insurance has increased dramatically and is becoming hard to justify.

With the myriad of health insurance plans, employees or prospective employees can hardly be expected to adequately evaluate the difference between two offerings. The result is generally a quick comparison of the expected annual out-of-pocket cost rather than the actual coverage. Few people expect to get sick, so they naturally evaluate the cost of healthcare under the assumption they need no immediate care and they may never need to utilize the insurance. As a result, the benefit of one health insurance plan over another is minimized.

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A few years ago, an employee in my organization had a major health issue, leaving him unable to work for more than three months. Social Security and state disability rejected any claims. Our disability policy provided him with an amount less than his regular pay. Shortly after receiving money from the insurance company, he complained it wasn’t enough and was upset because he expected the insurance to be equal to his full normal paycheck.

The employee attitude made it clear to me we had not done a very good job explaining the benefit nor the value of the benefit to him. In this circumstance, the employee’s attitude was a big surprise, since he had acknowledged his previous employer provided no insurance, so had he not joined our organization, he would have received nothing; yet what he got wasn’t enough!

BSE (Border States Electric) is one of the best organizations in our region, which uses its benefits and legal ownership structure (ESOP) to attract and retain employees. The folks at BSE do a superb job of showing prospective employees “Look at all you will get,” along with reinforcing current employees with “look at all you got.”

Few business owners are smart enough to promote benefits that resonate with employees, but those who do take the time, generally receive positive results.