New and Emerging Employee Benefits
Healthcare is the new currency, right? We’ve all heard that. Well, that may be changing.
People are more likely to ask about benefits than salary. Yes, they will want to know what they will be making, but chances are, benefit packages are key to attracting and keeping top employees.
Healthcare is an important part of that package. With costs continuing to spiral out of control, it’s rare these days to see the comprehensive coverage we used to see at little or no cost to employees. Nowadays, employers find it necessary to shift more of that cost to employees.
Companies are offering high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) which result in higher everything (deductibles, co-pays, and costs) to employees. Companies are shifting more of the monthly premium cost to the employee so employees want a selection of plans to keep their financial obligation as low as they can. Companies are also looking into “telemedicine” and clinic options, which are lower cost alternatives.
Health club memberships, or in-house gyms are becoming more popular. As are healthy lifestyle education like smoking cessation and exercise programs.
Another growing trend is to offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). These accounts can be funded, partially or fully, by employers and are another way to lower costs. They can be invaluable to employees where an unforeseen health issue comes up that may not be covered or is only partially covered by their plan. HSAs offer employees a chance to put away funds on a regular basis and earn interest. The funds do not have to be spent in the year they are deposited. And, retirees can withdraw funds tax-free after age 65.
Aside from health insurance, there are a variety of benefits being offered to employees.
Education and training opportunities. Many companies offer their employees paid time off to attend employer-paid classes. These can be anything, ranging from new computer software to industry trends. Many companies also offer tuition reimbursement for education leading to a degree.
Financial wellness programs. Financial worries cause stress, and stress can cause physical illness. Some employers are offering financial counseling or other educational assistance to help their employees work towards and maintain financial wellness.
Voluntary benefits such as pet insurance or cyber security are also being offered. Anything to keep employees happy and health is being considered.
Unlimited PTO. A rather new benefit we are seeing added to compensation packages is “unlimited” PTO. While that sounds ideal in theory, in practice it can be complicated. Employees may find themselves taking too little or too much time off, both of which decrease productivity. Often, supervisors must approve PTO requests, and there could be internal conflicts regarding scheduling time off in advance. We hear from employees that they feel more comfortable taking time off work when they have a limited pool of days that they have earned, as opposed to something more open ended. These are things to consider carefully if you want to implement a new PTO policy.
This is a very complex issue that can’t be covered in a short blog post, but there’s a lot of information out there about these trends and others in the employee benefit world. Check it out because there’s nothing more important to attract and keep your employees.
What other new trends in benefits are out there? Join the conversation and comment below.