The face of the American workforce is changing. Thanks to comparatively higher fertility rates and increased immigration, Hispanics have nearly doubled their representation in the labor force over the past fifteen years. By 2050, Hispanics are predicted to make up as much as 30 percent of the American workforce. That means it's more critical than ever before that employers pay attention to the needs of their Hispanic employees when crafting their employee benefits packages.
Better alignment between your benefits and your Hispanic workforce doesn't just benefit them; 63% of Latino employees give serious consideration to their benefits package when rating their job satisfaction. And as goes job satisfaction, so goes recruitment, retention, and employee engagement. By providing all your employees with a satisfactory benefits package, you can help ensure that your business runs at peak efficiency.
So does your industry employ a large percentage of Hispanic workers? Here are several ideas for improving your approach to benefits with this key demographic.
1. Recognize The Importance of Healthcare
In general, Hispanic employees are more likely to suffer from serious health problems that require medical care. One in five Hispanic households experience serious medical concerns, and they're equally likely to need to make a visit to the emergency room over the course of a year.
Supplying adequate healthcare coverage, therefore, is particularly important for a Hispanic workforce. It's not just the existence of the health coverage that matters, however. With one in four Latino families living below the poverty line, Hispanic workers need healthcare coverage that will kick-in early and pay well, to ensure that they don't have to choose between vitally-needed healthcare and the bills they have to pay in order to survive. Such decisions will only lead to more expensive and inevitable medical care down the road.
2. Incentivize Wellness and Provide Workplace Flexibility for Preventive Care
Encouraging good health through employee wellness programs can also encourage your Hispanic employees to make the most of their benefits, stay healthier, and reduce their financial burden. Include wellness incentives as part of your company benefits package. Incentives can take all sorts of forms; gym membership discounts, HSA or HRA credits, lower premiums, etc.
Consider offering paid time off for preventive care, wellness visits, and other medical needs to encourage employees to go to the doctor regularly, not just when something catastrophic happens. This can help reduce the odds that they'll experience greater health problems later.
A recent report from the Center for American Progress found that access to paid leave and workplace flexibility was contingent on race and ethnicity. In fact, Latino employees were found to be 11 percent less likely to have access to paid sick days and 12 percent less likely to have paid vacation. A top priority for businesses in today's diverse society should be to ensure equal workplace flexibility for all employees.
3. Acknowledge Their Strong Sense of Family With Liberal Leave Policies and Excellent Financial Security Benefit Options
The Hispanic culture places a huge importance on family ties and loyalty. Their families provide extensive social networks, with special importance placed on birthdays, weddings, graduations, baptisms, and anniversaries. Family importance also involves caring for aging parents or sick children. For these reasons (as well as those mentioned above regarding preventive care visits), paid leave and schedule flexibility are top benefits for Hispanics.
Emphasize these when recruiting. Allow employees to give input on scheduling. Offer "personal leave," instead of only sick leave, that can be taken in one-hour increments. Employees can use this time to accompany a sick parent or child to the doctor, participate in a child's field trip, or simply stay home to take care of a sick family member. A formal, personal leave policy empowers employees, while providing structure to put employers more at ease.
Keep in mind that a strong sense of loyalty to one's family also means that your employees will have a strong sense of loyalty to the company that allows them to fulfill their family obligations. One study found that 95 percent of workers feel a flexible schedule is a key trait of their ideal job. Eighty percent of women say their ability to manage work and home life affects their career choices.
What other benefits are affected by a strong family commitment? Research gathered by LIMRA, an association that provides consulting for insurance and financial services companies, found that nearly 50 percent of Hispanics are concerned about dying unexpectedly. They want to ensure the financial security of their families, in the event of their death or disability. Give them that peace of mind by offering voluntary insurance plans, such as life insurance, accident coverage, or additional disability plans.
4. Appreciate Their Unique Decision-Making Habits and Tailor Your Communications Approach
In Latino families, the primary wage earner in the family often independently makes decisions about benefits for their entire family, without input from another individuals. It's therefore imperative to take this cultural nuance into account when developing benefit education and communication materials.
Don't assume that if an employee speaks conversational English, there is no need to translate documents. Employee handbooks, instruction manuals, and other key documents are often difficult for non-native English speakers to understand.
This is especially true when discussing benefits packages. Industry jargon and legal terminology used in policy discussions are hard for even English speakers to understand. But don't just take our word for it; LIMRA included, in its "Top 10 Facts About the Hispanic Market," that bilingual materials are critical to communication. Without them, Hispanic employees may miss out on signing up for certain benefits. In turn, you lose the opportunity to instill loyalty through a well-understood benefits package.
If you don't have a qualified person on staff to translate internal HR materials, pay a local translating service or ask your broker. And be sure to consider some of these best practices when communicating with an Hispanic workforce about benefits:
- Provide as much bilingual communication materials as possible. Don't just translate your enrollment guide, but rather, translate your enrollment forms, your online enrollment site, your benefits presentation, support videos, wallet cards, etc. And don't forget about your employee handbook, wellness campaigns, and other benefits-related materials that are often overlooked.
- It's not enough to have an interpreter on-hand during open enrollment. Many employees who don't speak English very well simply won't ask for clarification and/or translation, for fear of disrupting the meeting and/or drawing attention to themselves. Rather, hold at least one open enrollment presentation completely in Spanish, and consider offering an enrollment video that can be viewed on demand and shared easily with others.
- Provide year-around Spanish-speaking benefits consultants to help your Hispanic workforce as questions arise about Qualifying Life Events (QLEs), general coverage questions, claims assistance, and billing inquiries.
- Send some portion of benefit communication materials directly into the home, in the hopes of reaching other family members covered by the benefit plan. This is especially important with wellness and prevative care messages. Consider using self-mailing postcards and other forms of communication which don't require the mailer to be opened in order to be read.
Currently, 30% of Hispanic workers don't have health insurance at all. They lack retirement accounts, and they're more likely to work in minimum wage positions. Auditing your employee benefits package to ensure that it has everything your Hispanic employees need is a great way to lower their stress levels, increase their health, and maximize their job satisfaction
According to the Pew Research Center, 75 percent of Latinos subscribe to the American dream of getting ahead by working hard. Leverage that strong work ethic by providing an appealing benefits package to this important demographic. And if you need help, don't hestitate to call us. While we have clients coast-to-coast, our Arizona roots give us unique experience and insights when it comes to the Hispanic workforce.