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This article was contributed by our friends at Forbes.
Employee benefits are quickly becoming the talk of the new workplace. And companies are upping the ante to attract and retain top talent.
But it’s not that simple.
Employers need to think about what they offer employees including the cost of the benefit to the employee, the value it brings, the cost to the employer, percentage of employees that will actually use the benefit (this is huge!), and the ease of implementation. The benefits offered need to work, otherwise they’re just a cost. And that’s not good for the company’s bottom line or the employee. Who wants to work for a company with amazing benefits they never use?
According to a survey conducted by Ramsey Solutions, the top 10 benefits currently offered include:
- Health insurance
- Paid time off (PTO)
- Retirement savings plans
- Life insurance
- Dental insurance
- Vision insurance
- Health and wellness programs
- Disability insurance
- Employee assistance programs
- Mental health/emotional well-being services.
Employers need to think outside the box to attract top talent and retain the people they have. Here are some out-of-the-box ideas that are catching steam.
1. Reimbursement for work-from-home expenses.
With 4.7 million people working from home, employers are beginning to provide reimbursement for common expenses as if they were working from an office. The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reported that 31% of employers reimburse workers for common office supplies, electronic devices, and internet services; 8% have added a general stipend to cover WFH costs; and 17% are considering WFH reimbursements. This will absolutely put a pep in your remote workers’ step.
2. Increased focus on employee financial health.
For many, the pandemic took a huge toll on their pocketbooks. Many employees, despite their income level, live paycheck to paycheck. Employee money woes are not only bad for the employee, but they are also bad for the company. Benefits Pro found that financial stress costs companies roughly $4.7 billion per week of productivity loss.
Interestingly, the Ramsey study found that companies offering financial wellness as part of their benefits package are overall 51% happier with their benefits package compared to 36% for companies that do not offer financial wellness.
Financial health packages include education and coaching, emergency savings programs, retirement savings plans, safety-net insurance, financial planning, and emergency savings funds. Only 17% of workers rate their financial well-being as “excellent.” Outside of retirement, safety-net insurance was ranked as the second most important financial health benefit by workers.
3. Student loan benefits.
Approximately 43.2 million Americans have student loan debt averaging $39,351 each. More than 35 million of these borrowers qualified for general student loan debt relief under the CARES Act of 2020. But that is coming to an end in May 2022. Pew research found that 62% of borrowers are not prepared to resume making payments. That same research showed that 8% of employers offer some form of student loan repayment benefits. Workers are willing to compete to get those jobs.
Want a leg up? Offer student loan relief for workers. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 allows employers to make a tax free contribution up to $5,350 a year to help employees pay off student loan debt. Goodly offers employers a chance to find employees searching for companies that help pay down student loans as well as makes it easy for employers to offer student loan repayment. Goodly’s CEO reports that most employers offer $100 per month toward student loan principle. Goodly can reduce the average 10-year repayment time by three to four years.
4. Sick time and personal leave for remote workers.
In 2020, remote workers called in sick 0.9%, compared to 2.2% for those who worked from offices. Remote workers fear that because they work from home, employers will be suspicious of taking sick leave. And since they work from home, there’s no fear of spreading germs to coworkers. But that doesn’t allow time for recovery. In fact, working while you’re sick can make you sicker. Your body needs rest to recover. It’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down so you can get healthy.
Employers will need to make a shift in their sick leave policies to include clear guidelines for calling in sick. Shaming or otherwise talking a remote worker into “just checking emails” will lead to more turnover. On the flip side, employees will need to be proactive and communicate with their employers that they will take a sick day when needed.
In 2021 an unprecedented 38 million workers quit their jobs. Burnout has been blamed as one of the leading culprits. Burnout can happen for several reasons, such as overworking for financial reasons, the lack of perceived reward, and the inability to engage. Employee benefit programs can address some of the root causes of burnout, which just might reduce employee turnover, increase productivity, and create a healthier and happier workplace.