Benefit Strategies to Retain a Diverse Workforce

Beyond the Hire: Benefit Strategies to Retain a Diverse Workforce

Workplace diversity has become a hot topic in recent years. Reputable companies have received a lot of press and accolades for their diversity initiatives. These companies have instituted hiring practices to attract and retain top talent such as blind resume screening, value-based hiring and collaborative hiring. 

These methods help ensure ethnicity, gender, age and other factors prone to bias are excluded from the hiring decision. The ROI of eliminating these biases and creating a diverse workforce have been thoroughly researched. For example, when it comes to gender diversity, researchers Cristian Deszö of the University of Maryland and David Ross of Columbia University found that “female representation in top management leads to an increase of $42 million in firm value.”1

While the economic benefits of a diverse workforce are undeniable, many HR professionals are still struggling with a crucial missing piece to this puzzle: What happens after the hire? How do you retain your diverse workforce?

To get to the heart of this, we need to take a deeper look at what diversity means.


Diversity, Creativity and Individuality in the Workplace

When we think about diversity, the goal is to hire individuals based on their own merit and allow them to be their true, individual selves. By having individuals who bring strength in their differences, you can foster a culture of creativity. In fact, an entire book has been written on the link between diversity and creativity, and according to an IBM survey of more than 1,500 CEOs, creativity is the single most important characteristic for success in today’s business environment.2

So, we know diversity is important because it leads to creativity, and we have well-defined hiring practices that can help us recruit a diverse workforce. But what does it take to retain a diverse workforce?

There is a collection of surveys on what it takes to retain a diverse workforce. According to MetLife’s 16th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends study, 73 percent of employees said having benefits customized to meet their needs would increase their loyalty to their employer. Ninety-four percent of employees said they want their employers to ensure their benefits offering has a meaningful impact on their life.  

People want to be treated as individuals and employees want to feel like their unique needs are being met. The best way for employers to acknowledge and appreciate the individuality of their workforce is by offering more choice and personalized benefits.

Diverse Benefits for a Diverse Workforce

To determine which benefits would have the greatest impact on your employees’ lives, take a look at the demographic breakdown of your workforce. Look at factors like ethnicity, gender and age as well as less obvious demographics like income level, remote vs. onsite and lifestyles.

With five generations currently in the workforce, age is an often marginalized aspect of diversity. But more than simply looking at a number, take into consideration your employees’ life stage. Are they a recent college graduate? Are they planning a family? Or are they preparing for retirement? Individuals have specific needs at specific milestones, so consider adding voluntary benefits to address their unique situations.

Next, use employee surveys to give your employees a voice in the matter. Ask them which current benefits they like, which ones they use, and give them a chance to suggest benefits they’d like to see in the future. This will give people who may not normally be vocal the chance to have their opinion heard, such as remote employees.

Download a template to conduct your next employee benefits survey.

The greatest opportunity for employers, in terms of inclusivity, talent retention and cost-effectiveness, lies in more non-traditional voluntary benefits that have begun to emerge. Sometimes referred to as lifestyle benefits, these are products like identity theft protection, legal insurance and pet insurance—products that cover other aspects of employees’ lives beyond health care. Some companies are even offering property and casualty insurance alongside traditional benefits.

An investment in diversity is an investment in success.

It's important to remember, however, that there isn’t one unique benefit that will meet the needs of all your employees. That’s why offering a wide range of benefits should be considered an investment in diversity. And as the research has shown, an investment in diversity is an investment in success.

Reaping the rewards of your diversity investment requires more than just offering more choice. It’s also essential to increase awareness and improve employee understanding of the benefits themselves as well as how plans can be combined to offer even greater value.

By leveraging data-driven algorithms and artificial intelligence, modern benefit technology platforms are automating the ability to communicate and surface benefits that are relevant to the individual during the enrollment process as well as throughout the year. This guidance can help ensure that the diverse set of benefits you offer do not go unnoticed while empowering employees to access coverage that ultimately improves their lives.

Want to explore how you can expand your benefits offering to retain your diverse workforce? Click here to learn more.



1 Does Female Representation in Top Management Improve Firm Performance? A Panel Data Investigation