Workplace Giving Programs Can Help Attract and Retain Talent

Workplace Giving Programs Can Help Attract and Retain Talent

Research shows that effective corporate giving programs are beneficial for a range of stakeholders, including the company, employee donors, and the benefitting charities, according to a recently published analysis by corporate philanthropy software provider JK Group.

In an article entitled, “The Future of Employee Benefits: Employee Giving Programs,” JK Group director of client strategy Nita Kirby cited research showing that the presence of corporate philanthropy programs has the potential to increase revenue by up to 20%, reduce staff turnover by up to 50%, and can even have an effect on the overall mood and health of employees.

Kirby also reported that the results of a survey conducted by JK Group showed that employers recognize the benefits of strong employee giving programs, with over 80% of the participating companies and organizations agreeing or strongly agreeing that their company is committed to a giving program. The survey findings further suggested that employee giving affects a company’s ability to attract and retain talent.

In addition, Kirby cited a 2015 report that showed that 61% of millennials would rather work for a company that offers volunteering opportunities or a giving program, such as volunteer time off, skill-based and pro bono volunteerism, and matching gifts.

Kirby also outlined several steps companies interested in incorporating giving and volunteering into their employee benefit programs can take. For example, employers can find out what type of programs solicit the strongest interest from their employees using free survey tools available online, and can then use the results of the survey to identify an employee advocate to support the program, and to help introduce the program to the rest of the workforce.

In addition, she advised companies to team up with partners associated with providing software and services that offer a user-friendly environment that allows employers to speak to their employees in their own unique way. To improve the chances that the programs will be supported and recognized by the entire company, she suggested that employers consider getting marketing, communications, compliance, and IT involved in supporting and promoting the philanthropy programs.

Finally, Kirby recommended that when it comes time to finally implement corporate giving programs, employers should look at a number of issues, such as whether they are adequately informed about all of the charities that might be in line with the philanthropic interests of their employees, and how legitimate the charities that are being considered for the company’s corporate giving programs are. To ensure that employees have peace of mind that their donations are ending up in the right hands and that their financial security has not been breached, Kirby advised employers to investigate the safest way to facilitate employee giving.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 59, Issue 6

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2016 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Global Employment Levels Show Signs of Slowing

Global Employment Levels Show Signs of Slowing

More than half of companies worldwide are either cutting or freezing employment amid declining confidence in business conditions, but firms in the U.S. are more confident than companies in most other countries, according to the results of a quarterly survey conducted by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).

The “Global Economic Conditions Survey” for the first quarter of 2016 was conducted February 26-March 15, and included more than 1,200 responses from ACCA and IMA members around the world. Nearly half the respondents are from small and medium enterprises, with the rest working for large firms of more than 250 employees.

The results showed that in Q1 businesses were less optimistic about their prospects than at any other time in the past four years: almost half of the firms surveyed said that they are more pessimistic about their prospects than they were three months earlier, and less than one-quarter of respondents said they have become more optimistic.

The survey also found that more than half of firms are either cutting or freezing employment, while only 14% are increasing investment in staff. The findings further indicated that 42% of firms are cutting back on investment, up from 40% in Q4 2015. According to researchers, almost every region saw an increase in the number of businesses cutting capital expenditure last quarter, with North America being the most notable exception.

In addition, the share of firms that reported a drop in income rose to 48% in Q1, up from 46% in the final quarter of 2015. Researchers pointed out that declining income is now clearly the biggest problem facing businesses, followed by increased costs, the negative impact of foreign exchange movements, and problems securing prompt payment. Similarly, only 12% of respondents said they saw an opportunity to increase their orders as a result of changes in the global economy last quarter, while 49% said they saw an opportunity to cut costs.

The survey found that while companies in emerging market economies remain very gloomy about their prospects, business confidence across non-OECD economies did pick up slightly in Q1, led by Central and Eastern Europe, and by Russia in particular. However, the results also showed that business confidence in China in Q1 fell to its lowest level since Q4 2011.

The findings further indicated that business confidence in the OECD economies declined sharply in Q1, largely due to concerns over the UK exiting the EU: confidence in the UK was at its lowest level since Q2 2012, dragging down the average for Western Europe. By contrast, business confidence in North America improved in Q1, having hit a record low in Q4 2015. Although 36% of North American respondents said that they have become less optimistic over the preceding three months, researchers pointed out that this was an improvement from 44% in Q4 2015, and well below the global average of 48%.

The report cited a number of reasons for the loss of business confidence in Q1, including a sharp decline in revenues for commodities firms since mid-2014; increased pressure to pay higher wages; and a strong dollar, which makes imports more expensive in many countries and raises the value of dollar-denominated debts.

While researchers observed that the business confidence index level for Q1 2016 suggests that prospects for the global economy are far from bright, they pointed out that the level was lower in Q4 2011, and the global economy did not fall into recession. They also noted that less than one-quarter of all respondents in Q1 said they are worried about customers going out of business, and only 8% said they are worried about suppliers going out of business.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 59, Issue 6

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2016 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Conventional Performance Management Approaches Are Challenged

Although companies are spending substantial amounts of time and money on performance management, too few business leaders are confident that their approaches are supporting the workforce of the future or improving the performance of the business itself, a report released by Accenture Strategy has warned.

The findings of the report, “Is Performance Management Performing?” are based on a survey conducted December 2015 to January 2016 of 2,100 leaders and employees from organizations across North and South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. The survey showed that while 94% of the respondents agree that performance management improves business performance, only 34% believe their organization’s current performance management approaches effectively support the delivery of business objectives, and just 32% think performance management is providing a clear line of sight between organizational and individual performance. Moreover, 89% of the employees surveyed said they believe their performance would significantly improve if performance management were changed.

Less than half of respondents expressed confidence in their company’s capacity to manage the basics of performance management, including developing and growing employees (40%), retaining employees (28%), engaging and motivating employees (40%), and making fair decisions regarding bonuses, pay raises, and promotions (36%). The leaders and employees surveyed indicated that they lack confidence in their organization’s management of more complex workforce needs, with only around one-third saying they think current performance management approaches effectively promote collaboration (35%) and creativity (32%).

Nearly half (48%) of the leaders surveyed said they think increased workforce diversity is creating a greater variety of employee motivations and expectations. In addition, 77% indicated they believe that personalizing performance management practices to individuals or groups is mandatory to meet the needs of the workforce of the future, and 41% of respondents said they believe that “one-size-fits all” performance management practices have a major negative impact on performance management. However, just 34% reported that their organization has moved away from standardized performance management approaches.

While 50% of the leaders surveyed said they believe that employees are increasingly looking for development and coaching opportunities, and 53% said they think that personalizing feedback and coaching would significantly improve employee performance; 52% of the leaders acknowledged that the annual review process is often used as an alternative to engaging in actual performance development, and 73% of the employees polled reported that they have not seen performance management practices move away from a focus on paperwork to a focus on conversations.

Yet researchers observed that some companies are experimenting with new approaches to performance management: for example, rewards can be allocated based on real performance data or survey data from all of an employee’s project leaders, or employees can determine rewards for one another in a crowdsourced approach.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 59, Issue 5

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2016 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Employees Seek Opportunities to Grow Within Current Company

While workers value a competitive salary and benefits, they are also highly motivated by having opportunities for professional growth and development within their current company, the findings of a recent survey by talent management solutions provider Cornerstone OnDemand survey indicated.

The survey was conducted September 16-30, 2015, among 2,000 Americans aged 18 and over who are employed full-time, and 546 HR managers or higher at companies with at least 50 employees. The results revealed that career satisfaction (19%) and work-life balance (19%) are the top reasons cited by employees for staying at their current jobs. The survey also showed that 29% of respondents left their last job because of work overload and a lack of healthy work-life balance.

When asked what they believe are the most important benefits an employer can offer employees other than a competitive salary and health insurance, 25% said professional growth opportunities, 23% cited flexible work schedules, 18% said cash bonuses, and 12% said other corporate perks and benefits, such as free food and exercise classes.

The survey also found that many employees are prepared to make life-altering decisions and considerable sacrifices in order to find a sense of satisfaction, fulfillment, and purpose in their career: 89% of the workers surveyed said they would consider making a lateral career move with no financial incentive for multiple reasons, including to move to a position that offers greater personal satisfaction (59%), to start an entirely new career (41%), or to take on a professional challenge (40%).

The findings further indicated that while most employees would consider a lateral move within their company—i.e., to a position with the same or similar title and pay grade but in a different department of the organization—only 27% would consider a lateral move to work for a different company, and 66% would first look to see if there was an interesting open position at their current company before looking elsewhere.

According to researchers, these findings suggest that employees want to remain loyal to their current employer, but only if they feel that growth opportunities are abundant. While 40% of respondents reported that they had been promoted in their company at least once, only 32% said their employer encourages employees to work in different departments to gain additional experience and skills, and just 22% said they have already made a lateral move at their company.

The survey results also indicated that many employees would welcome the chance to work in another city. More than three-quarters (77%) of the workers surveyed said they would choose to relocate if given the opportunity, with 67% saying they would be willing to relocate to another U.S. city, and 39% saying they would be open to moving to Canada or the European Union. However, only 15% said their employer offers relocation opportunities.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 59, Issue 5

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2016 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Missing Opportunities to Tap Into Executives’ Values and Priorities

In light of mounting evidence that optimal performance comes from the alignment of an executive’s personal values with the organization’s culture and the role’s responsibilities, encouraging executives to derive deeper satisfaction and meaning from their work can help organizations retain and improve the performance of their management team, according to a recent report by executive search firm Egon Zehnder.

The report’s findings, released on March 15, are based on the results of a survey conducted in the fall of 2015, in which 1,275 senior executives from around the world were asked about their personal priorities, and the extent to which they feel those priorities are supported at work. Researchers observed that the key findings were consistent across industries and regions, and thus provide a framework for thinking about ways of improving the alignment of personal meaning and the professional environment.

The survey showed that senior executives are motivated by a variety of factors. When asked to identify those factors, the top internal motivator cited was the opportunity to make a difference (55%), followed by leading and motivating others (45%), personal growth and development (45%), and being true to their beliefs and values (39%); while the main external motivators cited were monetary compensation (45%), the opportunity to be part of an innovative enterprise (44%), and having power and influence (37%).

In addition, the overwhelming majority (70%) of executives surveyed said they feel that too much emphasis is placed on moving up the organizational chart when lateral moves should also be held in esteem. Meanwhile, just 31% of respondents said they believe their organization has effective ways to reward high performance other than promotion.

When asked if they believe their organization helps them unlock their potential, 40% of the executives surveyed gave a positive answer, while 60% gave a negative or neutral response. The survey also found that 72% of respondents would welcome more help from their organization to pinpoint and pursue their personal motivations and goals.

The report’s authors observed that on a practical level, “moving up the ranks” often means two things for executives: focusing on short-term performance metrics and “checking the boxes,” which can prevent executives from shaping their role in a way that satisfies both the company’s objectives and their own priorities; and relocating to take roles dictated by a professional development plan, even though such moves are often very disruptive to mid-career and senior executives with families.

Researchers also pointed out, however, that relatively few executives who feel there is a disconnect between their personal goals and the company’s objectives articulate their concerns. They recommended that both companies and executives seek to initiate a true dialogue on professional development that goes beyond box-checking, and that gives executives an option beyond “take it or leave it.”

Benefits Trends, Volume 59, Issue 4

The information contained in this post is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. The information in this post is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2016 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Plan Sponsors Should Offer Participants Personalized Guidance

Rather than simply communicating with employees about their workplace retirement plan, employers should seek to offer participants personalized guidance on how to save for retirement, and make the process of contributing to and managing their retirement accounts easier and more effective, a report by Broadridge Financial Solutions recommended.

The report, “The Experience Revolution: Latest Trends in Participant Experience Design,” was prepared in association with Oculus Partners, and published on March 11. Researchers observed that growing numbers of retirement plan sponsors are seeking to build an infrastructure that supports sustainable, consistent, and predictable participant experiences across their entire business base. Some of these platforms are built internally, while others are constructed through external partnerships and outsourcing arrangements.

The report identified a number of practices and plan features that are being used by leading providers across the industry to create better participant experiences. First, many plan sponsors are completely overhauling the participant experience related to automatic enrollment, contribution escalation, QDIA investing, reenrollment, reinstatement, and other types of automatic features. The authors recommended that plan sponsors eliminate steps and potential confusion, rethinking when and what information is provided, and what other decisions should accompany the “automatic” transaction.

In addition, the report recommended that plan sponsors offer interactive calculators and tools to allow the participant to personalize the projections with more information by, for example, answering true profiling questions, the responses to which are stored for future use. The report also suggested that employers use a multi-channel participant experience design with a balance of person-to-person and digital interactions.

Moreover, researchers advised plan sponsors to generate personalized retirement income projections for each participant that take into account all of the known information from the employer’s plans, the participant, and other purchased information. Based on this information and predictive analytics, each participant can then be offered a series of personalized “next best step” messages to guide him or her through every interaction, and be sent targeted campaign materials supplemented with life stage and life event content and messaging. To help participants stay on track and find out where they stand relative to peers in similar situations, plan sponsors can offer them access to “people like me” benchmarks and comparisons within plans or across plans.

The report also advocated providing participants with access to financial wellness and investment advice programs that go beyond third-party partnerships, and offer truly integrated experiences across select partners by sharing data, offering integrated access, and presenting unified guidance and perspectives.

Finally, the report recommended that plan sponsors use dashboards and digitally delivered analytics to help them assess how the plan is performing against these new participant experience metrics. These platforms have drill-down capabilities that allow sponsors to track participant activities, engagement, enjoyment, and outcomes. Researchers observed that by harnessing the power of data from their platforms, sponsors can more accurately and completely measure channel usage at a participant level across channels and by type of interaction.

Benefit Trends, Volume 59, Issue 4

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2016 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.