For businesses of all sizes and industries, managing employees can be difficult. In today's historically tight labor market, with employees empowered to desire more than just a paycheck, companies have begun to offer different incentives to lure potential candidates as well as retain top talent.
With the average benefits costing a company nearly one-third of the employee’s salary, CFOs must not only be considerate in their allocations towards wellness offerings to have satisfied employees, but they also have to be diligent in tracking the use of benefits that increase wellness.
It Starts With Culture
Dean Quiambao, partner at accounting and consulting firm Armanino, believes even before benefits come into play, a culture of fluid communication from the top down is essential. This culture gives employees an opportunity to gauge the wellness of their own company, which positively impacts their own wellness in return.
"One of the most underrated components of employee wellness is the financial stability of the company they are employed by,” Quiambao said. “When CFOs have a culture of communication, it makes a positive ripple all the way to employee wellness. [Unfortunately], most CFOs only communicate during hard times.”
Quiambao stressed the necessity of communication from executives to employees, not only their wellness, but about the status of the company as a whole. Quiambao’s ideas are based on the notion that an informed employee is a happy employee.
“CFOs that communicate with an owner mindset, in good times and bad, cast that mentality across the organization,” he said. “Employees expect to hear from their CFO, know what numbers mean, and most importantly know how they affect the company. Just like in sports, everybody wants to be part of a winning team.”
CFOs that communicate with an owner mindset, in good times and bad, cast that mentality across the organization. — Dean Quiambao, Armanino
When it comes to the CFOs allocating towards benefits themselves, Heidi Crane, CFO of virtual fitness platform FightCamp and a financial executive for over 25 years, spoke to CFO about how executives must “walk the talk” in their promotion of wellness. It’s not enough to only ensure the allocations are made towards benefits that may be beneficial to a company's workforce, according to Crane. She stressed the need to understand what your employees need by having it engraved within the company culture.
“The CFO’s role is critical to ensuring proper resources are devoted to the company’s most important asset, its team members,” Crane said. “Building wellness into your company’s culture enables reinforcing the message in everyday interactions. It’s the small, everyday gestures that are most meaningful.”
Crane believes if benefits are going unused, it's probably something the employees don't find useful. She spoke on the many low or no-cost options for wellness that allow companies like FightCamp the opportunity to give their employees choices in their wellness benefits.
“People value choice,” she said. “At FightCamp, we offer a monthly reimbursement for the employee’s wellness activity of choice, so each person can decide what works best for [their] lifestyle. Our participation rate is almost 90%.”
People value choice [in wellness benefits] ... Our participation rate is almost 90%. — Heidi Crane, FightCamp
Outside of employee benefits, Crane believes morale plays a big part in what preserves employee wellness and ultimately makes them happy to come to work. “Morale and employee satisfaction require ongoing nurturing, it’s all reinforced by the company culture. Making time to celebrate wins and recognizing team member contributions regularly are always top of the list.”
Cutting Unused Benefits While Protecting Morale
With the U.S. economy's continued struggles, executives must consider the efficacy of trimming budgets wherever possible. Miguel Fernandez, CEO of fintech company Capchase, talked to CFO about the balance of cutting off these types of benefits without impacting the wellness or morale of employees.
“Not all perks and benefits are used equally, nor have the same impact on employees’ wellness,” said Fernandez. "It’s much easier to add new things than to subtract them. At Capchase, we have clear expectations of what we are trying to achieve with benefits.”
Fernandez talked about how, when gauging the value of employee benefits, his team asks themselves four questions. These questions evaluate if the potential benefit will not only pay dividends in wellness but also if it's worth the cost.
- Do we want to level the playing field with other startups at a similar stage?
- Are we trying to differentiate to increase appeal to candidates?
- Are we trying to retain people?
- Are we trying to increase engagement, productivity, and team building?
"Adding benefits becomes a more thoughtful process. And the hurdle to add new ones that [may] risk being unused [is] higher,” Fernandez said. “We then monitor usage and impact. If the usage is still not there, we propose alternatives or eliminate it altogether.”
Like Crane, Fernandez believes offering a custom benefits package to employees provides the best value for everyone involved. Going a step further, he spoke about how if employees have a small financial commitment to a wellness benefit, they’re more likely to use it and receive its benefits.
“We find that even if we ask employees to contribute a small percentage of the overall cost, they are more likely to actually use the benefit,” he said. “It is not about getting the money from the employee, it is about the employee participating in the cost to yield higher adoption of the benefit.”
If we ask employees to contribute a small percentage of the overall cost, they are more likely to actually use the benefit. — Miguel Fernandez, Capchase
While he admits that sometimes long hours are required in his industry, Fernandez makes it worth his employee's while by making an effort to make sure they feel recognized, appreciated, and motivated.
“It is important to have a supportive and collaborative team culture, which can help maintain morale and wellness,” Fernandez said. “We try to celebrate successes through shout-outs at all-hands meetings and our slack channels and showcasing results to the whole organization. We want to make people feel recognized for their contributions on a regular basis, not just through promotions.”