More Employers Are Offering Voluntary Benefits
More employers are offering voluntary benefits as a way to attract and retain employees in a tight labor market — and employers are getting more creative with the benefits they offer.
For example, 75% of employers now offer their employees dental and vision, about 66% of employers offer long-term disability, and about 50% of employers offer short-term disability. But other voluntary benefits are also trending, such as gym membership, accident insurance, and assistance repaying student loans.
These benefits are particularly attractive to the millennial and Gen Z members of the workforce, many of whom are willing to accept a lower salary in lieu of benefits.
This trend is largely in response to the currently low rate of unemployment. Another contributing factor is the increase in high-deductible health insurance plans. Well-designed and implemented voluntary benefit plans can help employers attract and retain workers in this tight labor market, particularly Millennials and Gen Z employees.
Which Voluntary Benefits are the Most Popular?
Voluntary benefits typically fall into four different categories. Health-related benefits, like vision and dental insurance, are the most common. Employers are getting creative with their benefits, by offering perks like gym memberships, student loan payments, and even nap areas to attract the best talent. Here’s a quick look at the different categories:
- Dental: Offering your employees a dental plan provides them with important access to preventative health care. Maintaining good oral health can help prevent diseases such as heart disease and digestive and respiratory ailments that lead to costly medical bills.
- Vision: Employers who offer a vision plan saved as much as $5.8 billion over four years. This is because an eye exam can reveal the early signs of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. So, both dental and eye exams can save your company money on health insurance down the line.
- Accident insurance: Offering your employees accident insurance can provide extra financial security for those times when they have unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses resulting from an accident. This can help them to avoid borrowing money from predatory lenders.
Flexible work hours: This voluntary benefit is particularly attractive to millennial and Gen Z employees, who like to have the opportunity to work in their own time so they can fulfill other commitments. There are numerous benefits to flexible work hours including:
- Less stressed employees
- Increased productivity
- Reduced absenteeism
- Happier employees
- Reduced spending
- Improved employer-employee relationships
- Remote work hours: This is another voluntary benefit that is attractive to millennial and Gen Z employees, who like to have the opportunity to work in their own space. It also provides employers with the same benefits.
- Paid family leave: The benefits of paid family leave are very apparent. Not only does it secure employee earnings and boost the economy, but it also strengthens participation throughout your company. Offering family leave also helps new parents build strong and healthy relationships with their children and in turn, improves employees’ mental health.
- Gym membership: When your employees go to the gym, you can be sure that they are getting regular exercise, which can help them in several ways:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Improving mental health
- Boosting their immune system
- Reducing the risk of major diseases such as heart disease
- Employee gym memberships also help you as an employer by:
- Increasing employee productivity
- Reducing employee absenteeism
- Reducing health insurance costs
- Improving staff retention
- Snacks/food/coffee: Employees love perks, and few are quite as satisfying as free snacks and coffee. But there are other advantages too. Employees will often leave the office for a quick snack or coffee break, and this might stretch out to 20-30 minutes away from work. Offering snacks can eliminate lost time. It also helps with employee retention because it makes employees happier.
- Napping area: Many employees don’t get enough sleep at night. This makes them tired and groggy the next day, which can affect their productivity because they are unable to concentrate. A brief, daytime power nap from 10-30 minutes can provide many benefits to employers and employees. For example, naps boost working memory, reduce anxiety and depression, and increase productivity.
- Professional development opportunities: These can range from enabling employees to continue their education, providing them with a mentor, and encouraging them to join a professional organization. These incentives are very attractive to the new generations of workers such as millennials and Gen Z who want the chance to improve their skill sets and advance in their careers.
- Student loan assistance: Offering this benefit is a great way to stand out from your competitors if you want to attract recruits from the younger talent pool. Millennials and Gen Z employees are very keen to secure jobs that can help them with their student debt burden.
- Financial rewards and incentives: This type of incentive includes stock options, profit-sharing plans, monthly bonuses, cash awards, and end-of-year rewards. Offering financial incentives can improve relationships between employers and employees and help staff to feel more appreciated. Employees who receive financial rewards for recognition of their achievements at work have increased morale and self-confidence.
- Employee loan programs: At some point in their life, most employees will experience an unexpected expense. This could take the form of an emergency medical bill, a car repair bill, or the death of a loved one. When this happens, if the individual does not have a financial safety net, they will need to borrow money to pay for the expense. Offering your employees a safe loan program will prevent them from having to borrow money from predatory lenders.
Why Employers Should Offer More Voluntary Benefits
It’s clear to see the advantages of offering your employees more voluntary benefits; not only are they good for the workforce, but they’re also good for the company. For example, voluntary benefits can:
- Decrease employee stress
- Improve employee physical and mental health
- Show employees that the company cares about them
- Increase employee productivity
- Reduce employee turnover
- Improve employee retention
- Boost overall morale
- Improve relationships between you and your employees
- Provide financial stability for your employees
If you want your business to thrive, to attract the best available employees for your industry, and to keep your employees happy, offering voluntary benefits is the way to go.