FILLING THE BENEFITS GAP

With the job market transitioning from one in which there weren't enough available positions for capable workers to one where there aren't enough qualified workers for the almost six million unfilled jobs, employers are now looking to differentiate themselves to attract a younger talent base. One way to do this as you set up tables at career fairs and write out descriptions for job postings is to offer benefits that are unique to the problems of the current generation. Because the current generation is graduating with more student loan debt($31,941), visiting the doctor less(.5 times a year), getting married and having their first kid later(28 and 26 respectively), a gap has been created between what is offered by the employer and what is needed by the employee. Simply put, the one size fits all benefits package that has been offered for decades, is no longer optimal for the employee. With this in mind, the companies that are recognizing this and filling the gap with innovative, flexible, and common sense benefits are the ones that can attract and keep the top talent in the marketplace.

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How to fill the gap: According to  American Student Assistance survey, 76% of respondents said that if a prospective employer offered a student loan repayment benefit, it would be a deciding or contributing factor to accept the job. With this in mind along with the fact that only 4% of companies currently offer benefits to help pay down student loans, adding an option to either help employees pay down student loans or allowing them to divert funds away from a traditional benefit, i.e., healthcare benefits, could single-handedly differentiate your company from 96% of the competition.

Continuing to "fill the gap" by putting policies in place that either encourage or directly help the employee to save for their first home can be the difference between a satisfied employee and a financially stressed one. According to a major survey by the  MacArthur Foundation, 9 out of 10 renters aspire to own their own home someday with 62% of renters from ages 18-35 indicating that getting a mortgage would be difficult for them. Adding a "first home" benefit would directly appeal to the younger workers along with help to allow them the opportunity to acquire a financial asset that the American Dream has long been built.

Most CEOs agree that in this day in age, the true competitive advantage that a company has is the people, not the machines nor the technology, but the employees who spend a majority of their waking hours building the business from the ground up. To differentiate your company to attract the employees of tomorrow, you must implement the benefits of today.