The ACA: Upping Your Employee Engagement Game Since 2013

This article is sponsored by BayPoint Benefits which provides benefits and HRIS technologies for their clients making benefits communication, onboarding and benefits selection easy peezy. Click here to learn more. Read my recent review on their DoubleDesk HR Technology

With passage of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare benefits are no longer hard to come by. Regular average Joe’s can gain access to healthcare. No longer are they handcuffed and staying at your workplace because of the health benefits you are offering. Your employees are free to explore other options such as working contract, going freelance or starting their own business. Employers are now competing not just against other employers for the best talent but they are competing against individuals who are looking for workplace flexibility and the opportunity to take a possibly permanent reprieve from the corporate rat race.

My husband’s friend, Jim is a great such example. In his early 20’s he had open heart surgery. He was only given less than 10 years to live. He’s now 43 with 2 kids and is a grandfather too. Since I first met them, Jim’s wife has been handcuffed to working for an organization solely due to the fact that Jim’s surgery means that he cannot find affordable health insurance unless he is part of a group plan. That is until the passage of the ACA. Jim who has outlived doctors expectations and has remained in perfect health since after his surgery is considered high risk. His wife is extremely creative, funky and entrepreneurial, but due to the high cost of healthcare, she stayed working in a job and at a company she loathed. Because without it they would have not had health insurance for Jim or their family.

Jim’s wife left her job and started her crafting business as soon as they were able. She was free to be herself and pursue their own personal creative interests. Jim’s wife was a senior manager at a large call center organization and had worked there for over 14 years. Her job was secure although she was not happy.

There are literally millions of people working in the United States like Jim’s wife who are no longer handcuffed to the workplace simply out of the necessity of healthcare benefits. Companies need to really consider company perks and benefits beyond the traditional. They should be focusing on the employee experience and the new hire onboarding process as the majority of turnover happens within the first 6 months of a new hire with a company.

End the Practice of New Hire Hazing In Favor of Onboarding

Employers can no longer afford to haze their workforce. And you know what I mean by haze. We make it uncomfortable for new hires. Take weeks to get their work laptop and don’t invest the time to show them around the company portal or provide clear instruction on how to find the information at the organization they need to succeed. My husband recently worked on a project where it took him 4 weeks to get computer access to do his job. He sat around billing the client for 40 hours a week for 4 weeks while feeling useless and defeated. Wanting to do the job he was being paid to do, he obtained his boss’s login credentials so he could be able to get to work. Essentially, someone who works remotely in another country hadn’t forwarded on a spreadsheet or completed a form to get him systems access. We need to move to the cloud and an HR technology and workflow  system focused on the employee experience with retention in mind. Not only did it make it extremely difficult to be enthusiastic about his job, it forced him and his boss to violate policy. Let’s quit with the corporate hazing. The best employees want to do their job and do it well. Why do we have to make it so difficult and demoralizing?

The Best Employees At Your Workplace Have Options

The best workers now have options. Boomers are exiting in larger numbers and these younger yet experienced employees are the key to a successful company. It doesn’t matter how the organization treated their new hires or acclimated them into the company culture 24 months or even 12 months ago. If you don’t treat them well, they will leave your organization. They will also be sharing the unhappy experience with friends, colleagues and peers via in person communication, social networks and review sites like Glassdoor.

Small businesses in particular are at a huge disadvantage. They don’t offer beer Fridays, grocery delivery services, on site gyms, egg freezing or even dry cleaning. Not everyone can be a Google or an Apple, and that’s okay. The key to increasing your workplace retention rates and job offers is by creating an environment where your best workers HAVE to be. They are learning, growing, and experiencing something that is bigger than them. It’s exciting. They work with their friends and are welcomed and treated with respect from the moment they walk through the door as a new hire. The perks aren’t meant to compete against the other business giants but are customized to your employee population. They have had a say in the different discounts, services and flexibility options you offer. Maybe it’s a pre-cation program where new hires get 2 weeks of paid time off before they start working. Maybe it’s an all expense paid commute pass for the train or bus near their home. Maybe it’s the paid time off for new families both mothers and fathers so they can bond with their new children instead of taking unpaid time off or disability.

Whatever it is make sure that it comes from the heart, mouths and minds of your employees. The key to an increased retention rate in light of an employee’s ability to gain access to healthcare indepently of your organization should just make you aware of how much harder you need to work, engage and listen to your workforce. Afterall, they are the most important asset in your company.

This article is sponsored by BayPoint Benefits which provides benefits and HRIS technologies for their clients making benefits communication, onboarding and benefits selection easy peezy. Click here to learn more. Read my recent review on their DoubleDesk HR Technology

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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