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Is it time to restructure your incentive program? Featured

Is it time to restructure your incentive program? "Man handing a woman a heart shape"

Within the last decade the shift from “living to work” to “working to live” has forced human resource departments to restructure their incentive programs to benefit their employees’ lifestyles. Companies encounter high turnover rates and fatigue when their benefits do not match their employees’ needs.

Organizations have now started to scramble to figure out which incentives are ideal for their workers – because studies have shown that the happier employees are- the more productive they are. They also find an increase in retention rate the happier their employees are.  

One of the first things new hires ask about is vacation time. The amount of vacation time a business offers has shifted within the past 20 years. While it was seen as generous decades ago to give employees two-week vacation time – it is now seen as archaic. More companies are giving way to three to four weeks of vacation or even unlimited PTO.  While many employees like the idea of unlimited PTO, there have been studies that show workers with unlimited PTO take less time off. “It’s a race to the bottom instead of a race towards a well rested and happy team,” Mathias Meyer, the CEO of Travis CI wrote in his blog post. Because most employees are uncertain about how much time off is “too much” they tend to err on the side of caution.

Vacation isn’t the only perk that a company can offer employees. 401Ks, stock options, tuition reimbursement, and medical benefits are also high on the list of priorities that new employees look for in a company. Common questions recruiters receive from potential employees include- what percentage do businesses match in regards to 401Ks? Do they offer tuition reimbursement? What are the benefits like? Is dental and vision included? By offering incentives that are appealing – companies will attract quality talent who will often stay at a company for years.

Most companies also offer “fringe” benefits. Fringe benefits are incentives that tend to be morality boosters within the office. “Fringe benefits can include incentives like employee discounts, free snacks, subsidy programs, and reimbursements,” explains Jennifer Soloway, HR operations specialist at Bullhorn. For example, Bullhorn offers their employees reimbursement for exercise and wellness memberships.

Fringe benefits are becoming more common especially in the Start Up industry where employees can look forward to catered meals, career coaching, discounts and even pet insurance.  Alyssa Setting, who is also an HR operations specialist at Bullhorn notes, “providing comprehensive, quality benefits signals that your business cares about your employees and that your organization is financially stable enough to support their well-being…” These perks go along way in make sure that employees balance work and life to combat burnout and fatigue.

If your company has not updated their incentive programs in awhile – it may be a good time to reevaluate them. When restructuring your incentive program it may be beneficial to ask your current employees which perks they enjoy and which they could live without. While not everyone is going to have the same opinion it will give HR departments an idea as they budget in certain incentives.

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Danielle Loughnane

Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.