During a recent trip to our local hardware store, my wife and I were assisted by a long term employee of the national retail chain. As is often the case, I had no problems making fast friends with the associate, and throughout the course of our conversation, the topics ranged from carpet to tile and then finally to working conditions.
As it was getting to be later in the evening, Antwone (the helpful associate) commented about how this had been an unusually long day for him (already eight hours), and that he would be one of the closing managers so he still had a few hours yet to go. Now, it’s important to note that at this point in our 30 minute or so conversation, I had already begun to complain to my wife that my feet were starting to hurt, and that we needed to be making our way towards the exit; so upon hearing that Antwone had been standing on the concrete surface more than 16 times longer than I had, my attempt to be empathetic was ‘lackluster’ at best.
Expecting a ‘woe is me’ response, I was somewhat surprised with Antwone’s following comments. In a rather enthusiastic tone, he praised his employer and their newly added benefit that he would soon be taking advantage of. It seems that in an effort to help employees who may have knee, hip and ankle problems that may or may not have been caused by the ‘hard surface’ working conditions, his company would pay for surgical and subsequent physical therapy to rehabilitate these issues. Antwone couldn’t be certain that his knee issues were the result of his working conditions, but regardless, he was certain that his benefit plan would take care of it.
Needless to say, Antwone was a dedicated and grateful employee (and a helpful one too). After helping me load my purchase into my truck, he thanked me for my business, and went back to wrap up the remaining three hours of his workday.
This encounter made me wonder, does your current employee benefit plan address issues that may or may not be caused by the result of your workplace environment? Remember that in this era where employees turnover an average of 15.2% per year, and given the costs of replacing employees, reducing the turnover rate within any organization improves the overall profitability of the company.
I know that we will be taking a closer look at this topic within our own organization. My thanks to Antwone and to his employer for reminding us that employee benefits are not products you purchase, rather cultures you create. Together, let’s make employee benefits a benefit again.