Employer provided benefits have evolved to become a primary consideration by employees and job seekers. Many smaller businesses today are unable to offer the same comprehensive benefits as larger corporations.
However, by strategically offering the types of benefits that are most important to their current employees and those they wish to attract, they can gain a considerable edge.
Here is a look at the benefits that employees value most:
One of the top benefits sought by employees is the opportunity for remote work. What was a necessity during COVID lockdowns has become a strong preference for workers, even as the pandemic subsides. Now that many employers and employees alike have realized the benefits of this style of working, its popularity is skyrocketing.
Offering remote work allows employees to save time on commuting and work from the comfort of home, which can help improve their work-life balance. They can also save money on work attire, fuel and other transportation costs.
Companies that are in a position to offer employees full remote work can save money on office space and utilities. Although some positions may still need to be performed on site, it may be possible to allow employees in these roles to choose hybrid work that combines in-office days with remote work.
Mental Health Benefits
Employees are increasingly seeking better mental health benefits from their jobs. The pandemic took a toll on everyone’s mental health, with mask wearing, social distancing, working from home and video conferencing, all of which contributed to increased mental stress. In a Mercer study, one out of every four workers said they are extremely or highly stressed, while those under 35 said their top concern is mental health.
In response, companies are increasing their offerings for mental health services. Some have introduced coverage for traditional talk therapy, either in person or via video chat, while others are providing a variety of approaches such as mental health days, membership in meditation services and applications, and access to addiction treatment.
A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management Foundation found that 88% of human resources professionals feel that offering mental health resources has the potential to boost workers’ productivity, while 78% said that these options can improve organizational return on investment. Meanwhile, 86% said it can improve employee retention.
This finding aligns with the responses of the employees they polled, 58% of whom said that a healthy work-life balance was more important to them than financial compensation. More than a third believed that mental health benefits were more important than a higher salary.
Four-Day Work Weeks
Another relatively new idea that many employees are seeking is a four-day work week. In a recent experiment, Microsoft Japan allowed its employees to work four days per week while receiving their usual five-day paycheck.
The experiment resulted in a 40% jump in productivity while helping the company save on electricity and printing. Businesses that wish to follow Microsoft’s lead can make up for some of the lost time by encouraging shorter meetings and limiting their attendance to free up more work time.
CNBC reported on a six-month pilot involving 900 workers at 33 businesses that followed the 100-80-100 model, which saw employees receiving 100% of their pay for working 80% of the usual time while maintaining 100% productivity.
Ninety-seven percent of the employees who took part expressed a desire to continue working with the condensed schedule, and their performance levels went up while fatigue and burnout dropped. At the same time, the businesses involved noted an 8% rise in revenue during the trial period and a 38% jump from the same time frame the year before.
Paid Time Off
More paid vacation time and parental leave are at the top of many employees’ lists when it comes to improving their work-life balance. Experts report an uptick in the demand for paid family leave and paid time off, and the percentage of companies offering paid family leave rose from 16% in 2016 to 31% in 2020.
It is important to note, however, that parental leave is something that employees will only use a couple of times in their lifetime as it is only offered when a child joins a family. Work-life balance, however, is an ongoing concern. Therefore, offering more paid vacation time can provide greater retention benefits to a broader demographic.
Other programs that employers can institute to support a better work-life balance and provide employees with more time off are floating holidays that support inclusion, programs that provide more time off in summer, and mental health days.
Although modern employees value many types of benefits that were nearly unheard of a decade ago, health benefits remain crucial. One recent employee benefits survey of more than 1,000 workers found that 88% of employees would choose a lower-paying job that offered high-quality health benefits over a higher-paying job.
However, employers that want to stand out these days need to go beyond taking care of their employees’ basic health needs. Medical, vision and dental benefits have gone from being appreciated to being imperative. At the same time, supplemental health benefits are being increasingly sought by workers. These may include perks such as critical illness insurance, health savings accounts and telemedicine services.
Some are being even more creative in their approaches, such as businesses that operate in areas that experience wildfires allowing employees to expense air purifiers. Businesses must constantly look for new ways that they can stay competitive in the job market and adapt to changing conditions.
Workplace fitness and wellness programs are also growing in popularity as employees seek to improve their health and lose weight. This is also very beneficial for companies as healthy employees cost less than unhealthy ones.
A University of Michigan study found that employers that place a heavy emphasis on fitness can save $1,200 per year on workers who reduce their cholesterol from 240 to 190 mg and $1,100 per year for each employee who quits smoking.
Between 70 and 90 percent of healthcare spending stems from problems related to unhealthy lifestyles that lead to chronic diseases; therefore, there is much to be gained by offering perks such as gym memberships, treadmill desks and access to personal trainers.
Contact the Premier Benefits Consultants at Business Benefits Group
Learn more about improving your employee benefits offerings with help from the professionals at Business Benefits Group (BBG). With several decades of experience and a deep understanding of the modern work environment, our customized solutions can give your employee retention and acquisition efforts a major boost.