CDI Corporation

How company benefits and incentives can drive employee engagement

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Recruiting and retaining top talent has a lot to do with the benefits and incentives offered at your company. Today, it can be difficult to discern what it is that really attracts full-time employees and encourages contingency workers to sign on – and then what continues to motivate them once they’re on the job.

As employee engagement garners more attention as a key performance indicator, it’s impacting how employers design and construct their workplace policies and benefits programs. Clearly there needs to be a balance between over-the-top perks like unlimited vacation days and a good package of traditional benefits like a 401(k).

No matter which direction your company chooses to take, benefits and incentives can help drive employee engagement in your blended workforce and provide a sense of security, encouraging workers to stay on the job, even during tough times. Here’s how:

Encourage work – life balance

Citing data from the Corporate Executive Board, covering the majority of Fortune 500 companies, Inc. reported that workers who feel good about their work-life balance generally work 21 percent harder than their counterparts who don’t feel fulfilled in this area. Research has shown that work-life balance can lower absenteeism and reduce stress among employees.

There are a number of incentives you can offer employees that help to encourage a work-life balance, which helps drive engagement and productivity, many of which won’t cost you a dime. Consider allowing a work-from-home policy that grants employees one to two days per week or one Friday per month. As Inc. explained, job satisfaction and output increase among those working remotely. Similarly, encourage employees to choose their own office hours, within certain parameters. This provides the opportunity for staff to work out in the morning if they prefer, or get their kids to daycare on time. Offering these incentives to contract employees, who are sometimes overlooked in this area, makes them feel that they are truly part of the team and incentivizes them to renew their contracts if asked.

“Forward thinking companies which rely on both a contingent workforce and a multi-generational workforce, are making flexibility the new norm,” Bill Hyman, chief human resources officer explained. “A workplace culture which encourages flexibility results in a positive and fun environment while resulting in an increase in employee engagement.”

Additionally, opportunities and incentives that promote work-life balance have been found to improve retention, thus, reducing time and costs spent on recruiting and training. As a report from the Center for American Progress highlighted, turnover can amount to more than one fifth of the annual pay of your employee. Additional cost-friendly options include providing work flexibility or more time off. Other incentives that encourage work-life balance may be things like gym memberships, wellness days or time off to volunteer.

Establish incentive programs

Ultimately, one of the main things that employees want is for their hard work to be recognized. As the American Marketing Association explained, recognizing the productivity, innovation and time commitment of employees can help to drive engagement. Praising great results and success in the field should always be a priority in the management of both direct-hire and contingent workers, as it can encourage employees to continue their hard work. Implementing monetary programs for a job well done on both an individual and team level can help increase motivation and productivity as well.

”On-going feedback by managers and co-workers improves morale by fostering a more positive work atmosphere,” said Hyman. “Consistent communication by leaders can accelerate collaboration between teams of permanent and contingent workers resulting in organizational success.”

As the AMA explained, competitive compensation can keep your employees on their toes and increase performance. The combination of encouragement and monetary incentives can go a long way in upping your reputation as a good company to work for, bolstering your employee brand among potential employees and contingent workers.

Leverage ‘bonus’ perks

Many companies see perks such as catered lunches on Wednesdays, office happy hours on Fridays and free fitness classes as replacements of more traditional benefits. If you’re worried these incentives will break the bank, distract employees from their work or aren’t necessary because of the well-rounded benefits package your company offers, think again. If you want to drive engagement and see lots of smiling faces in your office hallways on a regular basis, consider implementing low-cost ‘bonus’ perks that you offer to all employees, whether they’re full-time or working on a contract basis.

These can include things like flexible hours, fresh fruit and snacks in the kitchen and even an in-office shower and towel service to promote work-life balance, The StartUp explained. Other tactics such as nap areas, game rooms and office bars can drive social connections among different teams.

"Employee perks can at first appear to be bait on the hook – purely there to catch the biggest fish," wrote Alex Holderness in The StartUp. "But the truth is that a well-designed employee perk package can help the employer day-to-day as well."

Happy employees, who actually have fun at the office, are more likely to feel connected to a company, its goals and its mission. Even small, inexpensive gestures like donuts in the middle of the week can go a long way in helping employees feel valued, which translates to engagement and productivity.

Moreover, driven employees who are passionate about the brand, can be great ambassadors who promote the company culture and your employer brand, and your contract employees are more likely to recommend your company to their colleagues. An office filled with satisfied workers is apparent immediately, just as a space filled with unmotivated, unhappy employees is as well.

“Engaged employees are productive employees,” concludes Hyman. “Encouraging work-life balance and actively looking for opportunities to reward hard work, both monetary and non-monetary, result in permanent and contract workers who are loyal, motivated and positive. Making small investments in engagement can pay large dividends across your organization.”

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“Encouraging work-life balance and actively looking for opportunities to reward hard work, both monetary and non-monetary, result in permanent and contract workers who are loyal, motivated and positive.”

Bill Hyman
Chief Human Resources Officer
CDI Corporation

Employment Situation (U.S.)

Nonfarm payrolls in the U.S. added 164,000 jobs in April 2018, according to the latest release of the Employment Situation Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While below expectations of just over 192,000 new jobs, this expansion of the labor force exceeded the previous month’s figures, even when accounting for upward revisions bringing the March total to 135,000 new positions as opposed to the original 103,000.

Additionally, the unemployment rate slid to 3.9 percent during April. Reuters reported that this new percentage represents the lowest unemployment figure seen since December 2000.

When unemployment fell to 4.1 percent more than six months ago, that contraction itself represented a near-record low and provided strong evidence of how robust the American job market has been in the last few years. The metric’s stability at this level for nearly half a year was arguably even more remarkable. As such, April’s added drop in the joblessness rate could back up some economists’ predictions that the second quarter of 2018 will feature better performance across multiple economic metrics than what was seen in the year’s first quarter.

Professional and business services led the pack in terms of job growth-producing industries, with 54,000 jobs added in April. No other sector even came close to this level of employment gains.The mining industry rounded out April 2018’s contingent of fields with noteworthy job growth, with the creation of 8,000 positions.

Feelings among economic analysts and business leaders regarding the overall American economic situation appear generally positive, if tempered by a number of tangential figures and factors. In a note released ahead of the report, Wells Fargo Securities senior economist Sam Bullard expressed this sort of guarded optimism.

"We believe the U.S. labor market remains on solid footing," Bullard stated, according to the news provider. "That said, as labor market conditions continue to tighten and the pool of skilled workers on the sidelines continues to shrink, future monthly hiring gains are likely to slow from the current hiring pace."

Numbers responsible for uncertainties regarding the labor market include the labor force participation rate, in which the BLS identified a slight decline, falling to 62.8 percent. Some economists consider this metric a better barometer of American employment due to its measurement of people who are actively working and its ability to account for individuals who’ve ceased seeking work in any measurable manner.

Lower than expected wage growth of 0.1 percent may also have contributed to any sense of unease experienced by company leaders, economic experts and workers.

On the other hand, Bloomberg reported that any further drop in the U.S. unemployment rate may prompt the Federal Reserve to view the figure as unsustainable in the long run, thus necessitating further hikes to federal benchmark interest rates – perhaps beyond the increases already expected to occur in 2018. The first of these is tentatively scheduled to take effect sometime in June. Also, expected surges in consumer spending and the possibility of tax cuts provide further hope of continuing overall positive performance across the American economy.

The full Bureau of Labor Statistics report can be downloaded by
clicking here.

Employment Situation (Canada)

The overall Canadian economy has been fairly stable for the past few years, though not without its share of ups and downs. Mixed results have been more the norm than any other outcome, as seen in the latest edition of the April 2018 Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada. The nation saw a loss of approximately 1,100 jobs month over month, – which the government department classifies as "essentially unchanged." While the April loss altogether is small, the Financial Post noted it fell well short of expectations from leading economists, who had projected a gain of 200,000 jobs. Also, the unemployment rate remained identical to the preceding month, at 5.8 per cent.

On a year-over-year basis, results were more positive, with a 1.5 per cent gain of 278,000 positions between April 2017 and 2018 that stemmed from a notable surge in full-time employment.

The broad category of professional, scientific and technical services was one of the only major sectors of the Canadian economy to experience growth. That field, encompassing IT, engineering and most other white-collar jobs, saw 21,000 jobs added month-to-month. This is a notable change from the past several months: Between November 2017 and February 2018, the sector shed jobs consistently, and then remained stagnant during March. Most other sectors within the Canadian labour force saw no statistically significant increases or decreases in April 2018.

Despite the uneven nature of the numbers for Canadian jobs, other nationwide economic indicators showed notably positive growth, per additional data from Statistics Canada. Average hourly wages increased 3.6 per cent on a year-over-year basis in April 2018 to reach $27.02 per hour. This increase represented the biggest gain within a year’s time seen since 2012. Also, hourly pay solely for permanent workers rose 3.3 per cent during the same span of time.

In an interview with CBC News, Doug Porter, an economist with the Bank of Montreal, summed up the latest numbers as representative of a wash, economically speaking – no major gains or losses, and reasonable hope for the future.

"While no doubt a tad disappointing, many of the details of the release were notably healthier, and we would view this report as roughly neutral overall," Porter told the news provider. "[Though] the headline reading landed on the soggy side of expectations, the details of today’s report were decent and don’t change the bigger picture for the economy – it’s growing moderately."

This news puts the Bank of Canada in somewhat of a holding pattern, according to the Financial Post. None of the gains or contractions have been significant enough to force the central financial body’s hand and motivate it to alter nationwide interest rates, or forcibly cause currency inflation. Any such policy changes would likely not occur until the halfway point of 2018.

Canadian ES Report:
Labour Force Survey, April 2018

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