The Diversification and Improvement of Benefits Packages

By Michael Klazema on 5/21/2019
Spurred by the low unemployment rate and fierce competition for top talent, employers are striving to stand out from the crowd through their benefits packages. Benefits have become a core battleground for businesses as they seek to draw the best candidates, drive worker morale, and ensure employee retention. Today’s employee benefits packages don’t just feature health insurance and retirement plans—though those offerings are still must-haves for most workers. Here are a few other perks that employers are now offering.

Remote work opportunities: If the gig economy has shown the average American worker one thing it’s that long days stuck inside an office could soon be a thing of the past. Employers can embrace this change by offering jobs that enable remote work and telecommuting. There are advantages to this structure for both workers (fewer commutes, more time with family, work from anywhere) and employers (reduced spending on office space).

Student loan repayment: Today’s job seekers are often entering the job market with record levels of student loan debt. These individuals aren’t focused on retirement savings; they’re focused on simply getting themselves out of debt. Some employers are responding by offering benefits that help employees pay off their student loans. For instance, insurance and risk management firm Crystal & Company offers employees the opportunity to enroll in a repayment program worth up to $10,000.

Extended family leave: It’s not uncommon for employers to offer maternity leave—and many have even started offering leave for new fathers and other robust family leave initiatives. One example is Outreach, a Seattle-based startup that sells sales engagement software. Outreach gives new mothers two weeks of paid leave before the baby is born and ten weeks after delivery. New fathers get four weeks of paid leave.

Vacation days: For some job seekers, vacation days matter almost as much as salary. Work-life balance is a priority especially for millennial workers, and employers are responding accordingly. Companies including Dropbox, Hubspot, and Workday are changing the game by offering unlimited paid time off: employees can take as much time off as they want as long as they are getting their work done.

Wellness programs: Some of the most innovative employee benefits packages involve health and wellness. In addition to offering health insurance, companies are focusing on keeping their employees healthy. Specific wellness benefits might include office gyms, onsite fitness classes, catered lunches, wellness challenges, reimbursements for fitness-related expenses (such as race registration fees), and even bonuses tied to health and fitness accomplishments.

How to Compare Benefits Packages

These benefits examples represent just a few of the ways that today’s employers are staying competitive in a job seeker’s market. If you are looking for a job and wondering how to compare benefits packages, start by making a list of what matters to you. If your kids are grown, you might not be too concerned about family leave. If you are in the process of starting a family, then a good family leave policy may be a must-have.

Employers should structure their benefits packages based on both what competitors are doing and what employees value. Doing market research and seeking employee feedback can help your business to design an employee benefits package that will truly move the needle.

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