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The New Benefits Employees Want From Companies

The New Benefits Employees Want From Companies

Thinking through the right mix of employee benefits has never been more important following the events we’ve all gone through over the past few years.

A foosball table in the middle of the office common area? It’s a nice way to give team members a chance to connect on a break, but it’s not an employee benefit.

Free snacks in the kitchen? It’s a perk, but still not really an employee benefit as most HR professionals would define it.

Businesses have tried all sorts of things to enhance the employee experience they offer to their staff, from bean bag chairs to discounts on the company’s products and services.

These extras on top of what is often the standard benefits package in many organizations, which may include dental care, vision care, vacation time and even a pension plan.

HR leaders have known for years that benefits can prove a key differentiator when talented candidates are considering multiple job offers at the same time.

Benefits can also be a part of an effective retention strategy. If employees truly value what the company offers to support their lifestyle — even when they’re not actively working — they might be less tempted to leave for another job that won’t provide them the same things.

Thinking through the right mix of employee benefits has never been more important following the events we’ve all gone through over the past few years.

The pandemic led many organizations to reimagine what work can look like — from having everyone centralized in the same location to supporting employees to work successfully from anywhere.

As more firms embrace the concept of a digital HQ, those foosball tables or even corner offices might hold less appeal than a robust benefits package that aligns with their needs.

Today, driving an engaged employee experience means reflecting the increased flexibility your team members require as they balance work and family life. They may also be thinking beyond simple perks to benefits that truly enhance their well-being and development.

Many companies have filled this gap by working with a third party to offer an employee assistance plan (EAP). This can provide employees with a range of services, from a counselling hotline to assistance with financial planning or creating a will.

In other cases you might only need to add a few additional benefits to your existing package in order to meet employee expectations and stay competitive. This list is by no means exhaustive but provides some common examples that are worth consideration:

1. Flexible scheduling

Even if your office has officially reopened, many of your team members have probably proven they can do their jobs effectively without clocking in from 9 to 5 every day.

Formalizing a program that allows employees greater choice in when they come into the office — or even when they begin and end their day if they’re working elsewhere — conveys trust and empowers them to take greater accountability for their performance.

2. Pet insurance

Many of us welcomed a dog, cat or other animal into our lives during lockdown, while others have been taking care of pets for years. In both cases the joy and love that comes with pet ownership is often coupled with surprises in terms of veterinary bills.

It can be difficult to plan in advance for an ailing pet, and depending on the treatment required care can prove expensive. Some companies have even gone beyond adding insurance and are offering “pawternity” leave when tending to a pet takes up more of an employee’s time.

3. Childcare reimbursement

Juggling professional duties as a working parent is never easy and in the worst-case scenarios can lead to burnout.

Rather than see those employees exit the workforce entirely, helping to cover the costs of daycare or even after school programs can go a long way to reducing a common source of stress.

4. Work from anywhere expense coverage

It’s been a common practice in most companies to reimburse employees for taxi fares and meals when they’re travelling for work. Now that some people are spending much of their time either at home or another location, there are a raft of similar costs to think about.

Employees will appreciate companies that recognize the high bandwidth Internet they need to do their jobs remotely. They’ll also likely value assistance with buying office supplies and repairs for digital devices. This could be a stipend where the standard costs are well established or a more variable cap depending on the job and the company.

5. ID theft protection

There were certainly plenty of cybersecurity risks when everyone worked in the same office, but at least then we had IT departments to constantly monitor for threats.

Employees in many cases are now probably using the same devices for work and personal purposes, within environments that may not sit behind a corporate firewall. That means getting hit by ransomware or phishing schemes could be disastrous for them and your company alike.

This kind of insurance has been available for years but may be worth a second look in 2022 and beyond.

6. Expanded wellness options

It’s not just our teeth and eyes that need care. Think about what it would mean to provide employees a wider selection of services or access to funds that should help them approach wellness more holistically.

This includes mental wellness, which could mean covering the cost of meditation classes or even an app. There is also financial wellness, where advisory services can get employees to a point where they’re not living paycheque to paycheque.

You could even think about career wellness by offering tuition reimbursements to a course or to attend skill development events.

However you enhance your benefit package, try to approach it as an ongoing conversation you’re having with your team. Ask for their feedback on how well you’re supporting them as employees, and of courses measure which benefits are used and which aren’t.

Some of these may be new benefits, but they all speak to an age-old truth: that employing people should never be limited to giving them work and paying them for doing it. An employee experience should be based on rallying people around a common mission and purpose, and doing whatever’s possible to support them as people as they pursue it.

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