Many people have probably seen or heard about therapy dogs that provide warmth and affection for sick people. You may not know, however, about a town in OH that recently made headlines for telling a veteran of the Iraq War that he couldn't keep his pet ducks for comfort and physical therapy. It may sound at first like a farce, but in this case the situation was certainly real. In the vet's defense, there is a history of ducks being used productively for therapy in nursing homes, schools and special education classrooms across the country.
Before you go flying off the handle about this story, consider that in the same way not every dog is cut out for therapy work, not every duck is a good candidate either. Among other things, the duck in question has to have a good temperament, enjoy being petted and have the ability to ignore disruptions. We are not sure the AFLAC duck would qualify.
In banking, there are standard qualifications and characteristics viewed as crucial for good bank employees, as well as how to reward them appropriately. As compensation planning season is upon us and we head for year-end, community banks across the country are starting to think about pay levels, benefits, reward programs and policies for the upcoming year. As you are going through this process, we wanted to call to your attention two recent surveys that shed light on employee thinking. Both of these research studies suggest that banks need to remain competitive not just on salary, but also on benefits if they want to attract and retain their best employees.
For starters, consider a new Fidelity Investments survey that shows an increasing number of workers are considering the availability of a company stock plan when assessing employment prospects. When asked about the importance of company stock plans as part of their comp and benefits package, 86% of respondents under the age of 40 said they would want their new employer to offer a company stock plan if they changed jobs. Notably, 40% of respondents across all ages said a company stock plan is a "must have" when making a decision to change employers and 37% said having to give up their company stock plan would make it harder for them to leave their current job.
Indeed, it would seem that company stock is more than just an incidental benefit for the majority of employees. According to the Fidelity study, 57% of workers polled said equity compensation plans contribute to their feeling loyal to their employer and 54% said their company stock plan "provides an incentive to work harder and be rewarded for the company's performance."
Another area to think about when considering compensation packages is retirement benefits. These are also apparently very important to today's workers. According to new research from Transamerica Center, 76% of Millennials and 81% of Gen Xers say that retirement benefits offered by a prospective employer are a major factor in their decision to accept a job offer. Meanwhile, 67% percent of Millennials and 58% of Gen Xers said they would be likely to switch employers for a nearly identical job with better retirement benefits.
There are, of course, scores of other benefits that employees rate dearly, so it behooves banks to continually seek them out so you have happier, stickier workers. When considering which ones employees will value most as you work to keep your bank competitive, keep in mind that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duckit probably is a duck (even if it may not be 100% therapeutic).