The war for talent means companies are now fighting tooth and nail for the best employees. The past seven years have seen unprecedented growth in the job market, which has brought the United States close to full employment. At the same time, the market for skilled talent has become increasingly tight, making top talent more expensive and job-hopping more prevalent. 

According to Strategic Drift: How HR Plans for Change, a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit® (EIU) and supported by the ADP Research Institute® (ADPRI), 76 percent of senior executives predict that the market for skilled talent will become even tighter, and the same percentage consider workforce planning a critical issue for their companies. 

Yet, a new report by the ADP Research Institute®, Fixing the Talent Management Disconnect, reveals that employers are underestimating how many of their employees are at risk of leaving. The study found that 16 percent of employees say they are actively looking for new jobs and nearly half say they are passively looking and “open” if the right opportunity were to pop up. Employers surveyed estimated that only 22 percent of their workforce is passively looking for new opportunities — only half of the number of employees actually at risk. 

If businesses don’t know what attracts employees and persuades them to stay — or even realize that they’re open to leaving — they have little chance of being successful in an increasingly competitive market. 

This is where benefits brokers have an opportunity to shine as their clients’ trusted advisor around all things HCM. By understanding the potential disconnects between employer and employee expectations, brokers can help their clients recruit great candidates and develop the talent they have. Employers can then determine whether to invest more time and resources in order to achieve the greatest return on their talent management dollars. Sometimes, improving the talent picture requires only small shifts in attitude, emphasis, and offerings to better satisfy the work needs of employees.   

Here are a few things brokers should be surfacing with clients: 

Benefits costs can be a deal-maker or deal-breaker. Brokers should work with clients to ensure that their benefits plan offerings are strategically aligned to the needs of all employees. If benefits packages are too pricey, companies may lose top talent to competitors with better offerings. According to the ADPRI survey, Fixing the Talent Management Disconnect, 32 percent of job candidates say that the cost of benefits packages (health care, retirement, etc.) was a top factor influencing job consideration — the third highest consideration, in fact. If the cost of benefits packages influences the decision of at least one-third of potential job candidates, then companies should be working closely with brokers to ensure that benefits are affordable and individually tailored toward their potential talent pool. 

Improving engagement in the “gig economy.” Engaged employees are more productive and more likely to stay at a company, which is vital for warding off advances from competitors. But the economy as we know it is changing, shifting toward a model where more employees are choosing contract work over full-time employment. A 2016 study by Brookings Institute found that gig economy employees have increased by 27 percent more than staff employees in the past 20 years. The change is even greater in certain industries like transportation, which increased by a margin of 44 percent. Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new staff can be a lengthy and expensive process. As more of the workforce becomes contingent, companies should consider ways to keep these employees engaged and onboard them effectively and efficiently. Employers and employees surveyed by ADPRI report that being assigned a buddy or mentor to provide guidance or support is a top contributor to successful onboarding. Also, new vendor management systems allow employers to offer internal training and receive employee engagement feedback through surveys. These systems also log employee profiles, so when a temporary contract has ended, the employee is still in the company’s system and can be contacted to do more work at a later date. 

Thinking outside the traditional benefits box.

It’s important to remember that benefits go well beyond health care and compensation.   Benefits like work-from-home flexibility, paid time-off, and financial wellness programs can be make-or-break necessities for some job searchers. The same ADPRI survey found that flexibility and paid time off are the third and fourth top reasons, respectively, employees choose to stay with a company. Other factors, such as financial wellness programs and tuition reimbursement, can also have a lasting impact, which presents an opportunity for brokers to educate clients on non-traditional benefits and perks they may not have otherwise considered. According to the 2016 American Student Assistance® “Life Delayed” Survey, 76 percent of college graduates say that, all things being equal, their decision to take a job would be based on an employer’s willingness to offer a student-loan repayment program. 

Sharing the latest talent insights and trends with clients can help them stay competitive in an increasingly noisy job market and ensure that they continue to view you as a trusted advisor in all areas related to human capital management, beyond just benefits expertise. 

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