9-21-15_blogHow you can determine which should stay — and which should go.

Budget cuts sometimes mean companies need to end (or pause) certain employee benefit programs and amenities — which, if handled incorrectly, can have an extremely negative effect on employee satisfaction.

Employee benefits matter. Professionals who are satisfied with their health benefits, for example, — such as medical, dental, vision and critical illness insurance offerings — are nearly four times as likely to be satisfied with their job, according to a MetLife employee benefits trend study.

Medical benefits are far from the only assistance companies offer. Employee perks can range from the grandiose — including live concerts, personal concierges and free auto care, according to Salary.com — to complimentary snacks, periodic sabbaticals and child care help.

Yet, financially, it sometimes isn’t possible to maintain all employee benefits. In other instances, workers may not be fully utilizing offered benefits, and HR resources could be more effectively redirected to other projects.

In recent years, employers have limited a number of perks, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2015 employee benefits survey — including executive club memberships and subsidized on-site cafeterias.

Some companies are also getting rid of voluntary benefits employees hadn’t readily embraced, such as legal advice programs, according to Monster, to reduce administrative costs and HR overload.

If your organization is thinking about discontinuing some of its current employee benefits, the following tips can help you minimize the effect on employee satisfaction and retention:

Make sure employees understand their current benefits. Employee perks can’t help drive employee satisfaction and retention levels if workers aren’t aware they exist. Yet only one in five HR professionals feels their benefits communication has been “very effective,” according to SHRM. Convey program details on a regular basis through your employees’ preferred method — whether that’s email, a company intranet or another tool.

Clearly communicate any changes. If you need to eliminate or alter certain offerings, transparency is key. To keep employees from tuning out the information, Inc. suggests expressing the rationale behind the decision; presenting visuals that explain various options; highlighting any actions employees need to take; and providing ongoing advice and assistance to help workers utilize available programs.

Add replacement employee perks. If a certain benefit has become cost-prohibitive, offering a new perk in its place can help soften the blow. Employee recognition and appreciation efforts don’t have to cost a fortune. Consider Entrepreneur’s 20 low-cost employee perk ideas — or, for a less formal approach, utilize one of our suggested 10 inexpensive ways to improve your employee value proposition.

Employee sentiment can change in six months or a year. To maintain a successful perks program — and employee satisfaction levels — it’s important to gauge employee interest on an ongoing basis.

Organization-wide surveys can help you estimate which employee benefits and perks workers still value most — and which you should retire. For tips on crafting an effective employee survey, read our recent blog post on creating the most effective employee value proposition.