Recruiting talented educators and support staff is challenging work. Retaining them can be just as difficult. Studies show that 59 percent of academic institutions have trouble retaining top faculty and 69 percent have problems keeping staff. Educational institutions find that providing benefits employees want encourages them to stay. In fact, a Society for Human Resource Management survey confirmed that in the last 12 months, nearly 20 percent of employers had modified their benefits programs to keep employees on board. Consider four ways to enhance benefits.
Educators and staff members want a range of benefit choices so they can select those that will help them take care of themselves and their families. They also expect employers to educate them about their plans. Employees still value their medical benefits, but it’s their dental, vision and hearing insurance they use regularly. During dental and vision exams, doctors can detect signs of several health issues, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or heart disease. Treating these concerns at an early stage helps avoid expensive medical procedures.
2. Tailored plans
Employees also want to customize plans to fit their needs. For example, they may want to add orthodontia coverage to their dental plan, or need a vision benefit that assists with LASIK surgery or provides annual choices for new prescription eyewear and contacts. Ameritas offers dental, vision and hearing plans that can be tailored to employees’ requests or new plans can be created to address specific needs. These benefits can be employer-paid, employee-paid or a combination.
3. Student loan repayment
A popular new benefit is one that assists employees with student loan payments. About 20 percent of employees, or 44 million people, are burdened with student loan debt, with many owing $35,000. An American Student Assistance survey discovered that employees are concerned about their student loan debt:
- 65 percent of employees said they would commit to work for an employer for five years if they received assistance repaying student loans.
- 63 percent reported not having anyone to ask for help with student loan repayment.
- 56 percent worried about paying off their loans.
- 40 percent believed the burden of repaying student loans affects their health.
Ameritas offers a student loan repayment program called BenefitEd, through its joint-venture with Nelnet. With BenefitEd, employers can customize the program to employees’ needs, such as payments toward student loans or, for employees without student loans, payments to a 529 college savings plan. Currently, only 4 percent of employers assist employees in repaying student loans, making it an excellent benefit for employee recruitment and retention.
4. Voluntary benefits
Employees are interested in newer voluntary benefits that help them address other concerns in their lives, such as:
- Identification theft protection
- Critical illness insurance
- Pet insurance
Research shows that employees with access to voluntary benefits are more satisfied with their jobs. Today, nearly 1,000 academic institutions in the U.S. offer their educators and support staff Ameritas benefits. Learn more about these plans.