Friday, October 28, 2011

Uncommon Employee Benefits

This week's post will highlight 8 unusual employee benefits that says are sure to please employees. Darrell Zahorsky, former Guide writes of 8 unconventional benefits that will not require Fortune 500 Company sized budgets to accomplish.

Designing an employee benefit plan can be challenging however according to Zahorsky several benefits such as paid vacations, paid sick leave and pension plans have become standard across the board, a sentiment echoed by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Poll on Compensating Employees in 2003. The results of this poll, conducted in the United States revealed that 75% of small businesses offered paid vacations, 61% a health insurance plan and 59% paid sick leave. Disability insurance was offered by 41% of small business along with some 39% offering education reimbursement for job. The research also went on to state that 30% of businesses offered pension plans, 29% life insurance and dental insurance offered by 29%, the latter being offered to  full time staff with at least one year of service.

The link between employee benefits and productivity are clear cut, as employees serve as the driving force behind organizations, and when openly valued, contribute efficiently and effectively to the bottom line. In respect to small businesses, employee benefits also serve as a necessary measure in retaining employees.

“Offering employee benefits provides many paybacks to your small business. Number one is staff retention. An attractive employee benefit package will help recruit good employees and retain them as well. In addition, staff retention helps reduce turnover.”

For small or large businesses however, the following eight employee benefirts could, if proven successful and feasible, be worth consideration.

8 Uncommon Employee Benefits
 Employee benefits will have different levels of value depending on staff age, sex, and other factors. Talk to your staff to determine which benefits are most rewarding.

1.      Direct Deposit: Provide your staff with the option of having their checks directly deposited into their banks account at any bank or credit union that is a member of the Automated Clearing House (ACH). Direct deposit will save time and clear the funds faster.
2.      Wellness Program: With the rising costs of health care, both employers and employees can take responsibility for the health system by participating in a wellness plan. Any form of fitness programs, smoking cessation, and stress reduction can improve employee absenteeism and overall productivity.
3.      Company Discounts: An overlooked employee benefit to staff is the change to buy company products or services at discount. Even if it’s only one major item or an employee purchase day, your staff will appreciate this benefit.
4.      Parking Privileges: Depending on employee commuting needs, parking privileges can cover payment of a monthly city transit pass or paying an amount of pre-tax payroll dollars for vehicle parking.
5.      Business Cards and Title: Business cards with an employee’s name and title will offer an emotional appeal to staff. It may seem trivial, but your staff will enjoy the level of professionalism and pride that comes from having a business card.
6.      Computer Loan Interest Free: Many employees will value the ability to buy a computer interest-free. Determine a limit of the dollar value of the computer on the plan. Set up an automatic payroll deduction. Make sure a formal agreement is signed in case the employee leaves the company.
7.      Community Hours: Offer your employees a limit of regular pay hours in community service time. If a staff member wants to be involved in a volunteer event, have the company pick up the tab. You will win the hearts of the staff and community.
8.      Education Plan: There is no doubt today’s work force requires lifelong learning to keep pace with the changing demands of employment. Your small company may not be able to pay the tuition costs of an MBA program but some community college course reimbursement is affordable

In your opinion, would any of these benefits work in your organization? If so, which ones and why? Would these benefits need adjustment for the Jamaican cultural context?

 Join in the discussion and tell us where you stand. It begins with us, it begins right here.

The Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica
“Enhancing the Value of Human Capital for Growth and Development”

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Organizational Effectiveness is a key track at this year's HRMAJ Conference 31. As always we seek to push the envelope and provide sound, practical information that can further our goal of facilitating the development of a cadre of HR professionals, as we increase public awareness and influence policies to support human resource development.

This week's FridayBlogPost will highlight an element of organizational effectiveness from a practical standpoint, highlighting the available avenues to addressing issues such as low employee morale and low productivity. A recent article by Jeffrey Tobin, a former HRMAJ conference keynote speaker, spoke to these issues. Entitled '"I Succeed Because I Fail" Tobin examined the relationship between positive reinforcement and productivity, factors which affect the overall capacity of any organisation.

The secret behind the effectiveness of reinforcement he purports, claims supported by a study recently conducted by Michigan State University, is creating the option for failure.Whilst employees may currently perform at the expected standard, making the mistake of avoiding challenges can prevent the opportunity for failure to produce evaluation, improvement and understanding.

According to the article:
            "No one wants errors, but this is how people advance. If you want your staff to learn and grow you must give them projects that are challenging enough that they may well err. And it's your responsibility to encourage them. Downplay errors; encourage persistence."

In the article Tobin also outlined eight actions that can be taken to implement said reinforcement:

1. Empower your employees; give them challenging responsibilities and let them go
2. Don't worry about their methods. Focus solely on the results you expect. (This is hard for many managers to learn and employ. It is however, imperative)
3. Recognize successes. Downplay mistakes
4. Remain silent and have the employee asses the results of his/her own efforts
5. Ask what they might have done differently
6. Provide your input, emphasizing strongly their efforts and things that they did well
7. If they failed, help them to come tot heir own conclusions about what they mights have done differently
8. When possible, encourage them to devise their own plan for resolving the problem or challenge

For an in depth look at this article visit 

Accel-Team is a company based in the United Kingdom that provides counsel to organizations in improving the productivity of their human and other resources. They have also commented on the matter of positive reinforcement. In the following flow chart they identify the benefits of motivation and the adverse effects due to its lack.

It is evident from both sources therefore that employee motivation serves as a benefit to overall productivity and should be implemented where found unenforced. What are your views?

Join in the discussion and tell us where you stand. It begins with us, it begins right here.

The Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica
“Enhancing the Value of Human Capital for Growth and Development”