When it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent, there’s no question that the battle is only intensifying. Achieving status as an “employer of choice,” where candidates are eager to work for you and your most talented workers want to stay with you, is the holy grail for employers in today’s market, where prospective and current employees are in control.

While recruiting used to get the most attention, the pendulum is swinging towards retention. Companies are continuing to invest more in their employer brand each year, but they also say that highest on their priority list is retaining top talent – and for good reason.

There’s the cost factor. The Center for American Progress puts the cost of turnover at 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary. Then, there’s also meaningful employee engagement (where you could argue cost control would be a natural byproduct), because engagement not only drives loyalty, but intrinsically helps your attraction efforts when current employees are shouting your praises from the rooftops.

Yet, there’s a lot working against employers who are trying hard to pull in and keep talent. Millennials, now the largest generation in the workforce, have the reputation as job hoppers, with 60 percent saying they are willing to act on better job opportunities. The rise of the gig economy throws another wrench in the mix by offering an avenue for a growing number of workers to step away from full-time positions in exchange for greater flexibility.

For companies aiming to find that holy grail as an employer of choice, benefits can be a powerful differentiator to help them win in this ultra-competitive talent market. Here are a few considerations in developing an employer-of-choice benefits strategy.

Benefits Choice – Quantity or Quality?

Employees want choice in benefits, and employers know that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to cut it. But it’s not about getting into an arms race with competitors to see who can offer the most choice in benefits. Employers who “get it” realize that it’s really about matching a unique mix of products and programs to the unique needs of their employee population.

Offering a benefits buffet may address some of the needs, but it’s also likely to miss the mark. The value you’re actually providing may get lost in the mass of choices. Tailoring your benefit offerings shows employees that you understand their needs with benefits that reflect them. Employees feel valued, and you’re well on your way to status as an employer of choice.

Benefits Experience – Basic or Advanced?

Taking it a step further, how advanced are you when it comes to understanding how benefits address an employee’s work/life experience? Employees are more connected now than ever, with the line between work and personal life increasingly blurring. With that, the expectation for employees is that their employer is helping them protect what’s most important in their life. Traditional voluntary products like short-term disability, critical illness and life insurance policies, plus benefits like income protection, are now table stakes.

But the benefits that address an employee’s lifestyle are what give an employer the edge. These lifestyle benefits range from flexible work arrangements, telemedicine, parental leave and adoption benefits, or even some that are less commonly known, such as “paw-ternity leave” for employees that need time to bond with their new fur babies. To be considered an employer of choice, getting the basics right is a must, and connecting your employees to benefits that address their work/life balance is a necessity.

Benefits Navigation – Lost or Guided?

Health care consumerism is putting more of the onus on employees. Are they set up to be successful in assessing risk, selecting the right coverage levels for their situation or even simply having access to the right information? Helping employees navigate the shifting health care landscape is crucial when it comes to retaining the best talent.

Benefitfocus’ 2017 State of Employee Benefits report found more companies are introducing HDHPs into their benefits mix. In fact, 60 percent of large employers now offer at least one of these plans. Alongside that is investment in HSAs. While the report identified that employee contributions to HSAs increased two to five percent, there’s still plenty of money being left on the table. Education is needed, and employees that get the right guidance from their employers are both in a better financial situation and more connected to their benefits (and their employer).

Conclusion: Getting Their Buy-In

The last thing an HR leader wants is for an employee to be in an exit interview and say the decision to take a new job was due to certain benefits the new company offered, when in fact the same benefits had been available at the current company all along.

Employees have a lot going on and it can be hard to get their attention. But it’s up to HR to help employees clearly see the value of their benefits. You can understand the table stakes, but if you don’t take the time to put together a well-thought out communications strategy, then it’s all for nothing.

Ready to reach “employer of choice” status? Learn more about how you can develop your benefits program to meet the demands of today’s worker. Click here to download your free copy of The Roadmap to Insight-Driven Benefits Management.

Original post here.