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Human Resources

This or That? A Guide to Incorporating Benefits That Employees Actually Care About

By Rebecca Graham 6 min read

As a human resource professional or other company leader, perhaps you already offer robust compensation and benefits. In your estimation, it’s more than generous.

But how do your employees feel about their benefits package — is it enough to keep them around?

The most important benefits according to HR professionals

In 2019, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released the results of its annual Employee Benefits Survey. The survey, completed by nearly 3,000 randomly selected SHRM HR professionals, reveals that employers believe the three most important benefits to their workforce are, in order:

  • Healthcare
  • Investment and retirement
  • Leave

The most important benefits according to employees

To gauge the stance of employees, a Fractl survey asked 2,000 people how heavily they would weigh 17 different benefits when deciding between a higher-paying job versus a lower-paying job with superior benefits.

The top seven benefits given the most consideration are, in order:

  • Better health, dental, and vision insurance
  • More flexible hours
  • More vacation time
  • Work-from-home options
  • Unlimited vacation
  • Student loan assistance
  • Tuition assistance

Identifying and closing benefit gaps for improved employee well-being

The results of these surveys can provide a helpful backdrop as you take inventory and potentially re-evaluate your compensation package, especially in the wake of COVID-19. Benefit details may vary by industry and by company, but the top seven priorities of employees fall into three general categories:

  • Healthcare
  • Flexibility and leave
  • Financial assistance

It may be unrealistic for your company to incorporate every single benefit trend, but by focusing on specifics within these three areas, you’ll know you’re covering the most important bases. Here are some benefits to consider:

Healthcare

Considered the most crucial benefit by both HR professionals and employees, healthcare benefits for employees and their families are a no-brainer. Healthcare benefits consist of some combination of health insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, a Health Savings Account (HSA), and/or a Flex Spending Account (FSA).

If you don’t already offer a health plan with telehealth options or mental health benefits, consider adding those to provide additional support to your employees during the uncertainty of COVID-19.

BONUS BENEFIT: You may want to offer health insurance for furry family members too, as the demand for pet insurance is expected to rise over the next few years. Comprehensive policies include accident and illness insurance, specifically for cats and dogs.

Flexibility

COVID-19 has forced companies nationwide to collaborate virtually rather than in-person, which has allowed for greater flexibility with working hours. It’s impossible to exaggerate the impact this has had and will continue to have on work cultures going forward. Many large corporations have shifted to a permanent remote work model.

Regardless of whether you move to a work from home or hybrid model or return to 100 percent in-office operations, it’s vital to offer flexibility to attract and retain talent by way of the following benefits:

  • Some flexibility with working hours
  • Paid time off
  • Paid sick leave (the Family Medical Leave Act provides up to 80 hours of paid sick leave through the end of 2020)
  • Maternity and paternity leave

BONUS BENEFIT: Some employers are seeing higher sales and profits since implementing a 4-day workweek. It’s certainly worth researching and testing within a subgroup. After shortening managers’ workweeks in some locations to four days, Shake Shack found that recruitment spiked among women, reportedly in part because working mothers could take their kids to school one day a week and have one less day to pay for daycare.

Financial assistance

A fair salary is all that your employees need to thrive financially, right?

Not necessarily.

Pay is obviously a huge factor for employee satisfaction and prospective employee interest. But employees can further thrive when they’re also equipped with a financial wellness program that includes education, tools, and other assistance to more effectively budget, tackle debt, and achieve savings goals.

Here are some benefits to consider incorporating for optimal employee financial well-being:

  • Retirement contributions and matching
  • Stock options
  • Tuition assistance
  • Student loan repayment assistance
  • Credit-building opportunities
  • Financial literacy courses
  • Budgeting tools and templates
  • On-call financial advisors

BONUS BENEFIT: A wages-on-demand benefit like that offered by Rain gives employees financial flexibility and control because they decide when they access their earned wages — even if it’s long before payday. Daily pay can lead to overall financial wellness benefits like the opportunity to practice daily budget control, the reduced need for high-interest payday loans and credit cards balances, and the prevention of payday splurging.

Rain also offers a bill alert system and checking accounts with debit cards for all employees, even if they’re not eligible to open a traditional checking account.

Making room in your budget for better benefits

Adjusting your benefits package may be an investment. And it makes sense you want to see a return on that investment. If you stick with the priorities of healthcare, flexibility, and financial assistance, you should see higher employee retention rates and increase interest in recruitment.

Making space for the most important benefits may involve letting go of benefits and perks that are no longer a priority right now, such as company lunches, other outings, and in-office amenities.

And in some cases, adding benefits may not cost you a dime. For example, with Rain’s pay on demand model, Rain’s capital is used to advance the money to employees prior to payday, then on payday the employer reimburses Rain for the advanced paycheck. Employers release the same amount of money each payday, whether that’s to the employee or to Rain.

Robust benefits can increase employee productivity and loyalty

You’re not your employees’ caretaker or life coach, but as an HR professional or company leader, you can play an immeasurable empowering role in the well-being of your employees and their work output by virtue of the benefits you make available.

Aside from being the right thing to do, it’s been scientifically proven: when companies invest in employee well-being, employees are better equipped to meet life’s challenges outside of work — so they can function at their best during work.

Click here to learn more about on-demand pay (early wage access).

Tags:Employee Benefits, HR

About the Author

Rebecca GrahamGuest Author

Rebecca Graham is a research-loving business services writer currently managing the business loans content for the data-driven consumer reviews platform Best Company.

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