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Are Your Benefits and Company Culture Really Working Together?

Heidi Erdmann-Sullivan on September 26, 2017 10:30 AM

Benefits should be an extension and an expression of your organization’s culture, but they also play a lead role in helping create and maintain it. When you work to ensure your benefits and culture are in sync, the pay-offs can be great.  Working together, the two can yield  higher benefits utilization rates, happier employees and a more productive organization. 

Here are three tips for better integrating your benefits with company culture:

  1. Ask yourself the important questions about every benefit you offer:
    (assuming you’ve done your research and identified it as relevant to current employee needs)
    • Is it aligned with our organizational brand, mission and values?
    • Is it something our employees will actually feel comfortable using?
    • Is it something that helps our employees feel supported, valued and respected?

  2. Incorporate benefits into organizational processes, including:
    • Hiring: Think about how your benefits distinguish and differentiate your organization when recruiting top talent.  Do your benefits make you more competitive? Cutting edge? Better yet, a shining example of your company culture? Convey this to your prospects at critical moments in the recruiting process – not just at the end when the offer letter comes through.  Train hiring managers to incorporate benefits talk into interviews through personal, relatable stories where it feels appropriate.  And consider featuring your benefits more prominently in your job descriptions and recruiting ads if you feel they are doing a great job of representing what your organization stands for.  

    • Onboarding: Rather than the overwhelming marathon meeting with new employees where you pass over the overstuffed folder of forms and brochures, stagger the benefits introduction process over the course of a few weeks. Get the critical enrollment paperwork out of the way first, but then stage additional benefits information through timed emails, texts, face-to-face meetings and video links.  

    • Reviews: Reviews are a great time for managers to reiterate to employees the benefits that are available to them. HR can provide some quick “refresher” materials for managers to share at the end of reviews, or HR can schedule an open house in a conference room during review week for employees to drop in, grab a bagel and ask a few questions.

    • Transitions and training: Take the opportunity to reacquaint employees with their benefits when they’re undergoing a promotion or training at your organization.

    • Policy Making: Review with leadership how your company’s policies (i.e., paid leave, sabbaticals, flexible working arrangements) reinforce – or diminish – your benefits program. If there isn’t continuity and relevance between the two then it’s going to detract from the strength of your company culture.

  3. Ensure leadership and management walks the talk:
    The example of leadership and management speaks volumes (think Mark Zuckerberg publicly sharing his paternity leave plans – not once, but twice) when it comes to benefits.  Beyond talking about benefits and encouraging employees to use them in company-wide settings (alongside HR), leaders and managers must believe in and commit to using their benefits themselves - when relevant to their own lives.  

    The latest findings from Aptitude Research Partners show that “when managers put focused attention on modeling the right behaviors and communicating around these critical issues, it has an impact on both the individual employee and the business overall, helping to retain critical talent.”  For example, 88 percent of organizations whose leaders model work-life balance experience below average turnover.¹

Benefits are not only essential to the health and well-being of your employees, they’re a key ingredient in the cultural mix of your organization.  Organizations can save significant time, cost and effort upfront by consistently evaluating how well their benefits and culture reinforce one another.  If the two aren’t working together to help support your business’s larger goals, look to the voices of your employees and better fulfilling their current needs to get things back in sync.  

This post is the fourth in a five-part series based on the Care@Work Webinar:  Always the Right Fit – Benefits Through the Employee Experience, exploring how to attract, retain and engage your multi-generational employees. 

Source: Aptitude Research Partners, "Hire, Engage, Retain Study," 2016.  All rights reserved.

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Heidi Erdmann-Sullivan

As Director, Sales and Marketing at, Heidi is responsible for developing innovative, results-driven programs for Care@Work – a consumer-centered portfolio of family care for employers and their diverse workforce. Passionate about helping HR professionals improve the lives of their employees, Heidi follows and writes about the top trends and research impacting both employees and employers in the workplace, including the future of work, consumerism and HR, building employer brands, pay equity and paid leave policy, and company culture. Prior to joining, Heidi led marketing teams at a variety of technology companies including Constant Contact. She lives north of Boston with her husband Brian and their “daughter” Lexi – a 10 lb. Shih-Tzu therapy dog.