“The secret to my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” – Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.
In today’s competitive job market, how can you compete for talent? And once you’ve finally got a reliable team member, how do you keep that person from jumping ship? Consider the power of a comprehensive benefits plan.
In a bygone era, employee loyalty was earned because the worker had a pension or even a job for life. Many employees in 2023 don’t feel like their employer really cares about them. This makes it easier for them to leave once they receive a slightly better pay rate. Taking care of your people with benefits is a way to demonstrate that you actually care about their well-being. Here are the trends we’re seeing for what the modern employee wants and expects from their employer.
Employees’ Top “Must-Have” Benefits
The 2023 MetLife Employee Benefits Trend Study reports these results:
Medical / health insurance 79%
Paid leave 77%
401k or other defined contribution retirement plan 75%
Dental insurance 73%
Vision care insurance 70%
Employees Are More Dissatisfied With Benefits Than Before
61% of employees are satisfied with their benefits, the lowest point in the past decade
42% of employees don’t feel cared for by their employers
Depending on the benefits your business currently offers, this data will either be a wake-up call, or it will have you excitedly rubbing your hands together at the opportunity to steal talent away from employers who aren’t appreciating what they’ve got.
2023 Benefits Trends
You knew that was coming, but did you know just how important it is? 72% of employees rated the affordability of employer-provided benefits as an important factor in their organization’s demonstration of employee care. However, only 58% of employees were satisfied with the current affordability. This is according to the 2023 MetLife Employee Benefits Trend Study.
68% of employees rated employer contributions to the cost of benefits as important to their perception of employee care, yet only 60% of employees were satisfied with current employer contributions.
As a small business owner, this is your opportunity. 4 in 10 employees are dissatisfied with the cost of their employee benefits package. Can you beat your competition on this front? If you can, perhaps you can poach talent to your side.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) / Financial Wellness Tools
Programs such as gym memberships, fitness trackers, meditation classes, park passes, employee assistance programs, and stress management initiatives have grown substantially. Prioritize these wellness programs in conjunction with traditional benefits to meet employees’ expectations.
Gallup’s 2023 State of the Global Workplace Report found that 44% of employees report that they feel a lot of stress at their daily jobs.
The MetLife survey of employees uncovered that the proportion of workers viewing wellness tools as a “must-have” increased from 18% in 2019 to 45% in 2023. You read that right. This trend has more than doubled in just a handful of years. Nearly half of your workers expect you to offer stipends or discounts to health clubs or an on-site fitness facility or access to stress relief counseling.
The MetLife study revealed that employers are reacting. Employers have doubled their provision of financial wellness tools and resources from 25% to 54% in the same timeframe. If you’re not offering wellness benefits, you’re lagging behind your competitors.
Mercer’s 2023 Health and Benefits Strategies survey of businesses found that some companies are taking an extra step. Over 33% of businesses are training managers to recognize behavioral health issues and direct employees to existing resources. And approximately 25% of employers are providing employees with training to be prepared to respond to a co-worker who may be struggling.
More Non-Medical Benefits
Non-medical benefits are sometimes called lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs). Brian Gilmore, lead benefits counsel and Vice President at Newfront, says, “LSAs offer employers the flexibility to address many common life expenses that aren’t eligible under the traditional FSA, HRA, or HSA arrangements—and without burdensome compliance limitations.”
Employees are seeking a broader range of accessible and customizable benefits. According to the MetLife study, approximately 60% of employees express interest in a wider array of non-medical benefits. Additionally, 61% of employees report that there are benefits they desire but are not currently offered by their employers.
Here are examples of unique benefits your company can offer to attract and retain talent:
Home office stipends – employees can upgrade their home office furniture, equipment, etc.
Learning and development budgets – reimburse employees for a learning day or conference.
Unlimited PTO – Give employees as much vacation, sick, or mental health time as they want. In a poll for Fortune, 50% of workers said they’d take a job with less pay that didn’t put limits on vacation time.
Four-Day Workweek – A 2022 study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Boston College of 2,900 workers at 61 companies in various industries found employees reported being 71% less burned out, 39% less stressed, and 48% more satisfied with their job than before the trial. Employees quitting was down 57% compared with the same period a year earlier. Sick days were also reduced by 65% from a year ago.
Childcare Reimbursement – You can provide stipends to help employees pay for their own childcare or have an on-site daycare if your organization works in a centralized office.
Extended Maternity and Paternity Leave – It’s one thing to say we’re a family at this company. It’s another thing to actually give your people family time with their newborn.
Student Loan Assistance – Employers can make payments on an employee’s student loans.
Same-Day Pay – A Forbes survey reports that 83% of American workers believe they should have access to their earned wages at the end of each shift. Mercer’s 2023 Health and Benefits Strategies Survey revealed that just 6% of small employers are planning or considering more frequent paychecks for their employees. This is compared to 17% of large employers who already take this approach to paydays.
Asure Payroll partners with a same-day provider to offer this benefit to your employees at no cost to the employer.
Sabbaticals – You can reward long-time employees with extended paid time off after they’ve served your business for a certain number of years. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a full year off; it can be a few months.
Volunteer Days Off – Asure offers employees days off to volunteer in their community. This is the kind of benefit that lets your team know you care about giving back.
Birthday Paid Time Off – It’s all about making your team feel special and appreciated. A birthday is personal. You can automatically give each individual their birthday off.
401(k) Matching – Your business can match your employees’ contributions to their retirement savings account. Or you can do even better. For instance, Asure gifts employees a percentage of their salary to their 401(k), but no employee contribution is required. Typically, employers match between 3% and 8% of an employee’s salary.
Greater Support For Women’s Reproductive Health
Mercer’s 2023 Health and Benefits Strategies survey asked businesses if they are offering or considering offering the following benefits to support women’s reproductive health. Here are the responses:
High-risk pregnancy support: 27%
Lactation support: 22%
Preconception family planning: 19%
Postpartum support: 14%
Pregnancy loss support: 13%
Menopause support: 4%
5.36 million pets are insured in North America. The pet health insurance marketplace increased by 21.7% from the previous year, according to NAPHIA, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. In the US, the average premium for pet insurance that covers accidents and illness is $53.34 per month for dogs and $32.25 for cats. Do you consider your pet part of your family? Then you understand that offering pet insurance as a benefit really shows your employees that you care. Some businesses that offer pet insurance are Microsoft, Skechers, RingCentral, Tesla, Peloton, and Chewy.
Communicate Benefits in the Employee Handbook and Job Offer
“Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was — and still is — the most important thing we do.” – Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce.
We conducted an HR Survey of 2,065 small and midsize businesses in 2023. We found that nearly 40% of companies that didn’t grow last year do not have an Employee Handbook updated in the past 12 months. Contrast this to Fast Growing companies, where 8 in 10 have updated their Employee Handbook in the past 12 months.
Mary Simmons, VP of HR Consulting here at Asure and an HR-certified professional, explains that an Employee Handbook communicates benefits to employees, such as time-off policies and medical/dental benefits. Mary reminds businesses that the handbook can also be leveraged as a tool to attract new talent.
We also asked small businesses, “Do you send written job offers including pay rate, pay frequency, leave benefits, and at-will employment?” The survey revealed that 1 in 3 companies that failed to grow last year don’t send written job offers that include pay rate, pay frequency, leave benefits, and at-will employment. 83% of Fast Growth companies do.
You can download your copy of our 2023 Small Business HR Benchmark Report at no cost here.
A comprehensive benefits plan is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent in today’s competitive job market. It demonstrates your business’s commitment to employee well-being and satisfaction. Employees are prioritizing medical/health insurance, paid leave, retirement plans, dental insurance, and vision care insurance. However, many employees are dissatisfied with their current benefits, particularly regarding affordability and employer contributions.
Offering cost-effective benefits and contributions can give small businesses a competitive edge. Employees also seek support through employee assistance programs and financial wellness tools to address workplace stress and mental health concerns. Non-medical benefits, such as home office stipends, learning budgets, flexible work arrangements, and unique perks, further enhance an employer’s benefits package.
Communicating benefits effectively through your employee handbook and written job offers is essential. By focusing on comprehensive benefits, businesses can attract and retain talented individuals, leading to long-term success. Why? Because it shows you value your team members.