These last few years have been disruptive and caused a lot of strain on HR professionals. As such, HR departments have undergone significant transformations, expanding their scope to encompass key functions like overseeing employee compensation and benefits. As businesses grow and evolve, it becomes crucial to grasp the impact of employee benefits and related challenges on HR teams.
The job of HR professionals is becoming more complex due to shifting employee demands and constant changes. This article explores reasons why HR professionals are struggling with employee benefits.
Employee Attraction and Retention
As talent shortages persist across industries, many employers are grappling with adapting to the “new normal” to address this issue effectively. HR departments are dealing with an inadequate number of candidates or insufficient resources to meet the high demand for candidates. On top of that, more of today’s workers are confidently exploring opportunities at other companies. As a result, many HR professionals realize they need to offer comprehensive and competitive benefits packages and compensation to attract and retain today’s talent.
Keep in mind that even if organizations offer comprehensive benefits, the success of these offerings comes down to how employees perceive their benefits. Some employees may leave a company for “better” benefits, only to find out they already had the ones they were hoping for and may now have less robust benefits. HR professionals can get ahead of this issue by addressing potential benefits education gaps to ensure current employees know about available offerings and how they bring value to their unique lifestyles.
More than ever, HR professionals are working hard to attract and keep more employees. However, creating a benefits strategy that appeals to various ages and demographics is challenging. While health and dental insurance and a 401(k) are table stakes for many organizations, much of the workforce is also looking for options like flexible work schedules and generous paid-time-off policies. The importance of recognizing that different groups of people value varying benefits cannot be understated. It can be difficult to offer benefits that appeal to a multigenerational workforce, but HR professionals can start by surveying current employees to see what they want and need for benefits.
Traditional HR departments already handle recruitment, workplace safety, compliance, payroll and employee engagement. Now, many employers are adding time-consuming tasks, such as managing benefit strategies and budgets, to the plates of HR professionals. This can come with more manual tasks, spreadsheets and paperwork. HR professionals face countless benefits challenges, including employee education and enrollment and administration.
To help free up HR employees’ time to focus on more strategic tasks and critical day-to-day work, employers could consider technology, tools or partners for benefits administration. Software platforms, applications or websites can automate otherwise manual processes, saving time and increasing accuracy.
Compliance and Evolving Health Care Regulations
Legislative changes have led to expanded job responsibilities for HR departments. Besides juggling routine tasks such as recruitment and employee relations, HR professionals are now adapting to new roles or learning new skills. For example, these expanded responsibilities could include staying up to date on compliance as it relates to health insurance plans. The influx of rules and regulations, particularly concerning health care, puts employers at higher risk of lawsuits, fines and penalties, making compliance a critical concern.
Amid high inflation and a potential recession, businesses and workers alike are trying to figure out how to do more with less. Undoubtedly, that includes HR professionals as well. In fact, a 2023 survey by financial wellness benefits provider BrightPlan found that 77% of HR executives report experiencing financial stress. Many are also experiencing unmanageable levels of debt.
HR leaders face the difficult task of supporting employees during tough economic conditions as they deal with the same challenges themselves. HR professionals are often responsible for sharing and communicating about financial wellness benefits to employees but may forget the content and resources also apply to them. While many HR professionals are focused on ensuring employees know about and fully understand the available financial wellness benefits, they may need to remind themselves of these perks and take advantage of available financial resources.
The benefits landscape is constantly changing, so it’s important for HR departments to stay informed. By fostering collaboration with various departments, staying informed on regulatory changes and employee benefit preferences, and embracing technology-driven solutions, HR professionals can drive their organizations toward success amid a challenging employment landscape.
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