Know Thy Workforce


In the coming months we will start a series on the blog called “What’s the Point?” which will discuss the “Whys” behind employee benefits. To get your brain thinking in that direction I want you to answer a question. Do you know your workforce?

No, I’m not asking if you recognize Bob from accounting, I’m asking if you know and understand where your employees are in their personal journey with their careers and money? As our understanding of how employee benefits programs work we are beginning to realize that this is not a one size fits all. Jeff, your 25-year-old new hire, does not need the same things that Brenda, your 45-year-old mid-career mother of 3, does. Both of them have drastically different questions and needs than Mark the 65 year-old who dreams of spending more time with his grandkids. Providing benefits that are actually viewed as benefits, that actually attract and retain good employees is a practice of providing benefits and education that are relevant and valuable to them. The only way to do that is to Know thy Workforce.

By this point you are probably saying, “Caleb, how do you expect me to know 100+ employees?” That is a great question, but it’s not what I’m saying. Think about it this way; chances are you have 3 basic groups of employees on your team. You have those in the first 10-15 years of their working life, from here on out, let’s call them Kimmies. Then you have Dougs, those 16-35 years into their careers and lastly Bobs, 5 years or less from retirement. Click here to read what Jamie Kertis said on this same topic from a plan design perspective. What you need to understand from the right brain perspective is that Kimmies are not attracted by hearing, “we have a great 401(k) Plan” because inside they are saying, “um, can someone tell me how I’m supposed to pay off this student loan?” Dougs don’t usually get pumped about learning how to pay down student debt, but if someone could show him how to fund college for his children, that would be valuable! Bobs are wondering what this transition looks like? He thinks, “I got them through college, I saved for my retirement, now is it enough, and what steps should I take to get ready for retirement. The theme you should be grasping is that “GOOD” benefits packages should add value to your team and that starts by knowing where they are.

Trust me when I say, offering are 401(k) or health care plan does not make you special. I don’t mean to downplay the sacrifice businesses make to offer these, they are expensive and time consuming, but talent is looking for more. So, how do you do this, how do you add value to all these different groups?

1) Look at the statistics: Knowing your demographics will help you understand if you have more Kimmies, Dougs, or Bobs working for you.  Also, anonymous surveys about topics of interest are a great way to find out what your team needs without them feeling like their privacy was compromised.

2)  Give them a Resource: I am not saying, nor am I expecting, you to be the resource on all these subject. With our focus being on 401(k) plans, many of our clients have us build custom education plans around what their employees need. In those cases, we act as the resource to those participants on personal financial questions, not just the robot suits that tell them how a 401k works. Have a question about student loans? I can help. How about paying off debt or budgeting? I got that covered, too. You are not the resource but you show your team how much you care by hiring someone that can help them!

3)  Listen:  You may be surprised what your team is telling you if you just open your eyes and ears? Are your employees asking for more overtime? Do you have low participation rates in your 401(k)?  Are your claims on the health plan increasing? Are applicants asking if you provide benefits that you don’t? Evidence is staggering that employers who listen AND RESPOND have an incredible impact on morale. Adversely, those who don’t listen can destroy any motivation.

Knowing your workforce is important. It makes them feel appreciated and at the end of the day, you may be offering benefits that they don’t really want or need.  A bit of research and strategically worded questions will allow your company to connect, attract, and retain good talent, by adding value through your benefits plan.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.


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