A pond of fish

In September 2023, a job advertisement was published on social networks by the Canadian-owned AGF Groupe, a company specializing in structural and post-tensioning steel. The ad, placed through an intermediary called Key Profile, requested steel erecting workforce for a project located in San José, Costa Rica. AGF Groupe, which has 75 years of experience and is made up of more than 25 business units, located in Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Antilles, Peru, Ecuador and India, offered as part of its benefits to insure workers in the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS) and in the National Insurance Institute (INS). They also offered Christmas bonus and vacations.

There is a major conceptual error here: these are not benefits. Social security and occupational accident insurance have been fundamental rights in Costa Rica since 1943 and 1982, respectively. On the other hand, Christmas bonus and vacations are also obligations of employers since 1943, according to the Labor Code. Surely our former president Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia would squirm if he read that job offer. It is even amusing to imagine what he would do today in this situation, who eight decades ago was not afraid to declare war on Germany, Italy and Japan.

In another publication, they request that job offerors have their own safety shoes, pliers, helmet and cell phone. Perhaps the recruiter should inform this large company that article 69 of the Labor Code obliges employers to “provide workers with the tools, instruments and materials necessary to carry out the agreed work in a timely manner, supplying them of good quality and replacing them as soon as they cease to be efficient”.

Costa Rica, as well as other nations that are respectful and proud of social guarantees, demands that companies do not confuse benefits with employer obligations. Fortunately, there are many companies that do know the difference between a right and a benefit. In an increasingly fast-paced world, and perhaps more capitalist; large, medium and small companies offer real benefits and thus recognize the value of human resources.

Real benefits

Many people leave their jobs because they are unable to balance their work and personal lives. Where possible, offering flexibility in clocking in and out, or establishing telecommuting or hybrid models, helps to reduce stress, improve attitudes in the work environment, increase productivity and, above all, optimize the use of time.

Training can be another benefit offered to workers. It is said that every day you learn something new and it is true, but having a training plan for workers will raise their motivation, especially if it is about new topics or even if the worker is allowed to choose these topics. On the other hand, through this benefit the company will have more competent workers at its service.

Initiatives to promote a healthy lifestyle are a highly valued trend. Developing information and training campaigns on topics such as nutrition, first aid or accident prevention, offering subsidies for medical examinations or to enroll in fitness centers, and promoting cultural and social activities will make workers healthier and therefore more productive.

Group recognition could also have a positive impact. Some workers identify with the company’s objectives when they are recognized for their work. In addition, the company would have extra points in this section if during the process it gave the worker enough confidence to perform his or her tasks. Recognition does not necessarily have to be monetary, but if the situation allows it, some extra money would be a great help for many workers.

Employer’s benefits

Several studies confirm that granting real benefits to workers directly affects productivity and efficiency levels, due to the impact they have on the achievement of the organization’s objectives. According to a study conducted by Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace, greater employee engagement leads to a 21% increase in profitability and a 17% increase in company productivity.

A positive individual attitude toward work undoubtedly improves the work environment, reduces harmful behaviors such as gossip and unfair competition, and contributes to teamwork and loyalty to the employer. The Gallup report states that “organizations cannot function effectively, let alone adapt, compete and succeed, with workers who struggle and suffer. Companies need more than ever to think of the person as a whole, not just as an employee.”

In addition, a true benefits package can be the key to attracting highly targeted and competent talent. The market may be short of qualified resources, therefore new candidates should be offered what they expect to find, beyond the economic offer.

As happens in a huge pond of fish, employers set the bait in search of the best prospects, and workers are lured by the offers in the hope of finding better conditions or inserting themselves into a busy labor market. Sometimes that means sacrificing welfare and doing a job just for the paycheck. At other times, fortunately, it is possible to find companies that understand employment as a means of satisfying personal needs and dignifying workers and their families.