Today, four generations occupy the workplace at the same time. They all need adequate compensation and basic benefits like healthcare, but beyond that, no two employees are exactly the same. Employee trends vary dramatically by generation, so most HR departments face an extreme challenge if they try to choose a single slate of benefits to serve all employees.
What each employee desires in a benefits package varies according to age, financial situation, family status, life goals, and more. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee benefit trends are moving quickly toward more personalization, enabling employees to choose the package of benefits that work best for themselves and their families.
The 2018 MetLife Benefits Trends study found that 73% of employees believe having their benefits personalized to their own needs would increase their loyalty to their employers. They would like to see a wider array of benefits beyond health insurance, and they would be willing to pay for many of these benefits on their own if employers would procure them. Here are five areas where personalized benefits make forward-thinking organizations shine:
Nontraditional benefits especially important to younger workers
In 2018, TriNet surveyed more than 3,000 US employees to determine the importance of nontraditional benefit options. More than nine out of ten employees at small and medium-sized companies said nontraditional benefits are important for their job satisfaction. They also believed nontraditional benefits improved their morale (85%) and made them more likely to stay with an employer (82%).
Most employees are seeking flexibility that helps them strike a better work life balance. According to TriNet, employees ranked flexible work hours as the most important nontraditional benefit. Younger employees (aged 25 to 34) said extended paid leave, such as parental leave was most important. Another very popular nontraditional benefit is the ability to work remotely, avoiding a time-consuming commute to leave more time for family. Other nontraditional ways employers can help improve employee work life balance include onsite childcare, pet friendly office policies, and extended death benefits for bereaved spouses and children.
Emphasis on Health Savings Accounts
In the US, employers and benefits advisors will take a closer look at the benefits of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for employees. HSAs are a savings vehicle paired with a high-deductible health insurance plan. Pre-tax income directed into an HSA grows tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free at any time to pay for eligible medical expenses. Because of the triple-bonus tax treatment, investments grown inside an HSA can end up being worth nearly 30% more in an HSA than a 401(k) at retirement. After they turn 65, account holders can use HSA funds for any reason without penalty, although non-eligible expenses may incur taxes. In 2019, many employers will seek to educate employees about the value of the HSA as an investment vehicle, and some may increase employer contributions into HSA instead of 401(k).
Holistic view of well-being includes emotional and mental health
Stressed-out employees have lower productivity and engagement. Whether the stress originates at work or at home, employers still bear the cost of distracted, anxious or depressed employees. HR departments should find ways to help employees learn to manage stress effectively and to cope with emotionally difficult times in life. Fine tune time off policies so employees get rest and relaxation and encourage employees to use PTO. Adding caregiver and bereavement leave to your policy can help employees use vacation days for vacations.
Here are other ideas for improving emotional and mental well-being with benefits:
- Include mental health services on your health insurance plan.
- Train on time management, since procrastination increases stress.
- Mediate between coworkers when relationships become strained.
- Teach communication skills because poor communication is the number one source of employee workplace stress.
- Foster a positive office culture that values respect and employee recognition.
- Offer stress reduction perks such as office yoga or massages.
Financial benefits help employees pay off debt and prepare to retire
Many employees have trouble with finances, but none are more indebted than the Millennials and Generation Z. Skyrocketing college tuition costs have forced many to go into tremendous student loan debt. These generations are often unable to afford homes, start families and take other normal steps of life in their early career. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers and Gen X workers are reviewing retirement plans and many feel unprepared financially for this important transition. For these reasons, employers are rapidly adopting financial wellness benefits, including financial counseling services and student loan repayment programs. In 2018, 6% of all organizations offered student loan repayment assistance, up from 4% in 2017. Among large companies (40,000+ employees), 15% offered tuition repayment, up nearly 90% in one year.
Employers will deliver more unique voluntary benefits
Offering unique employee benefits as voluntary benefits enables workers to create their own customized benefits packages. Employers seeking to personalize benefits messaging can offer voluntary benefits as a way to let employees pick and choose the package that works best for them. Survey employees and listen to what is most important to them. Get creative! Some unique employee benefits that companies have added to cafeteria plans include:
- Pet insurance
- Home insurance
- Auto insurance
- Commuting expense reimbursement
- Paid time off to volunteer in the community
- Gym memberships and biometric health devices such as FitBits
- Annual passes to local attractions such as museums or zoos
- Fertility treatments
- Tax preparation
- Pre-paid legal services
- Free food in the office
- Employee discounts at retail stores
- Game rooms
- Onsite laundry and dry cleaning services
Technology helps deliver benefits that attract and retain talent
In order to offer the personalized benefits options that today’s top talent demands, you will need to have excellent automation tools to manage, enroll and administer plans as well as expertise in benefit strategy. Asure Software can help you design and manage benefit plans that help your organization attract and retain top talent.