Q: Our company announced this month that there would be significant changes to our benefits, and I was pretty upset. How can I express my opinion? And should I consider looking for a new job?
A: Clearly you recognize that benefits are an important part of the value of your comprehensive compensation package. Businesses recognize how essential benefits are for employees and they are faced with the ever-increasing costs of these benefits. Health care, 401K contributions, public transit reimbursements, child care assistance, life insurance: all of these can be part of your benefits package and they can add up to 30% of the compensation provided by your organization. Often these added benefits are overlooked when people look at their full compensation from the company, especially when thinking about changing jobs.
Before you decide to quit your job, it’s essential that you sit down and calculate the cost of these benefits, including what they would be if you had to pay for them out of pocket and what the costs would be if a new employer didn’t. not offer all the benefits offered by your current employer. You weren’t specific about what kinds of changes are happening in your business, but most of the time a change in benefits means an increase in health care premiums. There are many ways you can get involved, and you should let your employer know about your concerns, whether the change is healthcare-specific or otherwise.
First, talk to your manager about what’s driving the sudden change in benefits. Is this a cost increase due to provider health costs? Does the company pass on these increased costs to employees? Are they lowering contributions or changing investment opportunities for your 401K plan? Is it to reduce the employer contribution to anything or eliminate an offer that most employees don’t use? Have a detailed conversation with your manager about what is driving the change and why the company is making these decisions. If your manager doesn’t know, ask them to set up a meeting with HR for you and other employees who might want more information.
It is important that you ask yourself what is driving the change. Is it driven by the healthcare company that provides services to your organization? Is it based on company size or employee demographics? Changes may be mandated by law or policy. It’s important to look deeper into the why(s) when looking at what can be changed. These regulations could be at the federal level, and they can also vary by state and region, as well as by profession. Additionally, the range of benefits and financial value can vary greatly. Uniforms are considered a benefit in some organizations, where tuition reimbursement might also fall into the same basket of benefits for others.
If you find that many of your co-workers feel the same way about your benefits changes, you can reach out to HR to let them know your feelings about the changes while remaining (as always advised) professional and calm. . Some companies have done a great job asking employees for input and inviting employees to sit on an investment committee to make decisions about options in a 401K plan, and even asking employees to help to select and decide what types of policies should be included with the 401K plan. organization benefits package. For example, a group of employees chose a plan with a high deductible which, on the face of it, seemed worse for the employees. But with a larger employer contribution, the premium was lower. Transparency and employee representation made this change in benefits a success rather than cause for outrage. Before reacting with anger, react with curiosity. Find out what’s driving the changes, who’s driving the changes, and offer to get involved to learn more. You can always choose to leave and join an organization where the benefits offered are more meaningful to you, but you will know and understand better how those decisions are made by involving yourself in the process.
Companies have an interest in communicating these changes to their employees as soon as they can, even in the discussion stages which may include obtaining employee feedback and understanding the impact on employees. No information should come as a surprise, and information about a change in benefits without an explanation leads employees to suspect that a company has the wrong motivations for the changes. Encouraging open dialogue and a line of communication if employees have questions or concerns are key to retention and building engagement.
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