Restaurants and food service businesses have traditionally been known for hiring high school and college students. Today, there is a shift in this demographic and restaurants are frequently staffed by adults who join the industry in their late twenties, early thirties, and beyond. This impacts the importance of health care and other benefits, when restaurant candidates are choosing an employer.
Awell-thought out employee benefits program has a positive correlation to job satisfaction and company loyalty. In fact, according to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report, 80 percent of employees agree that a well-communicated benefits package would make them less likely to leave their jobs. The report studies the impact health care reform is having in the workplace, the growing importance of voluntary benefits to workers, as well as the correlation between good benefits and business success.
Typically, though, employers don't take the time to educate employees about their benefits or they only do so around the annual renewal date, which often sends the message to workers that employers are going to cut benefits, while increasing the cost of their existing plan.
One of the best ways to open the lines of communication during this time of fewer financial resources is to offer voluntary benefits. At little to no extra costs to the employer, voluntary benefits like life insurance, critical and disability insurance, accident insurance, a health and wellness program and auto/homeowners insurance, are offered to employees by outside vendors at a discounted rate because of the volume of potential customers provided by the employer, resulting in a win-win situation for all.
Once you've got the attention of employees in a positive way through the engagement of voluntary benefits, it's time to create a three to five year strategic plan – a road map for benefits communication.
Creating A Road Map To Effective Benefits Communication
This road map will detail all the current and future changes to benefits, corporate compliance requirements and an explanation of why the company is making certain choices. All three to five year strategic plans should be communicated in a variety of ways to both ensure that information can be understood by all, regardless of language barriers and learning styles, but also so that employees don't miss any important information.
- The three to five year strategic communications plan should include following avenues of communication:
- Email – primary way of employee/employer communication these days, but should only be used in conjunction with at least one other form from the list
- Print materials – brochures and flyers can promote voluntary benefits and a more in-depth explanation of plans
- Face-to-Face voluntary discussion – can be both impromptu and pre-planned
- Group meetings – can break out by employee department or specific benefits
- Intranet – a forum for continuous flow of discussion, whether around blog posts or enrollment announcements
- Video – ideal for large gatherings, can be subsequently posted on the Intranet for increased exposure
- Avatars – these will talk employees through the decision making process and are ideal for annual benefits plans, like medical and dental
Bringing employees into the process will help them understand where the company is headed and why it's going there. Instead of feeling like an outsider or behind the process, this type of employee engagement can be a differentiator when it comes to lower turnover, increased employee morale and an overall better place to work.
Bottom line, find a trusted advisor; work together to develop a strategy and come up with a viable solution before it’s too late! An experienced and knowledgeable advisor will not only ensure that your business is compliant with reform, but will most importantly discuss a strategy to avoid any negative impact of this legislation on your business.
Robert Fiorito, serves as Vice President, HUB International Northeast., where he specializes in providing insurance brokerage services to the restaurant industry. As a 20-year veteran and former restaurateur himself, Bob has worked with a wide array of restaurant and food service businesses, ranging from fast-food chains to upscale, “white tablecloth” dining establishments. For more information, please visit www.hubfiorito.com