In what ways should your benefits package evolve in 2021 and the years ahead? In this article, we’ll look at the current priorities and expectations of employees, and how employers can respond for successful recruitment and retention.
What employees want now
The focus is firmly on helping employees maintain work/life balance, improve their financial wellbeing and reduce stress. Here’s their 10 most-wanted list:
Financial management tools
Workers are looking for information to help them budget and stay on track to reach financial goals. At Integrity Staffing, we offer the PayActiv program withon-demand access to earned wages for instant cash, bill payments and Uber rides without the need for a credit card or bank account, as well as financial counseling, budgeting and saving features.
This includes alternating remote/onsite arrangements and wholly remote; 60% of employees in a Glassdoor survey said they plan to look for a position that is entirely remote.
Use HSAs, FSAs and benefits brokers to reduce out-of-pocket costs (56% of employees in a CompareCards study had to put medical expenses on a credit card and have never been able to pay it off).
Paid time off
Without this benefit, those who live paycheck to paycheck (more than 75% of the workforce) must work when sick or exhausted, leading to lower productivity and increased safety incidents.
Mental health benefits
In a MetLife survey, 60% of employees struggling with mental health said employer programs didn’t meet their needs or were too difficult to access or understand.
In more than 60% of American families both parents work, yet only 6% of employers offer child care benefits. Consider: subsidies for childcare costs, onsite childcare facilities, expanded maternity/paternity/adoption leave, coverage of fertility treatments.
Concurrent with the trend away from job hopping, we’ll see more growth within a company. Facilitate employees’ professional development with skills training, leadership coaching and cross-training between departments. At Integrity, we offer free online certification courses through Penn Foster to all our employees and associates.
It’s a great way to attract and retain younger employees. Benefit offerings might include: student loan repayment assistance, tuition assistance, scholarships for employees’ family members and contributions to a 529 savings plan.
Pet-friendly benefits (yep, it’s in the top 10)
Woo animal lovers with pet insurance, PTO for new pet owners and allowing employees to bring pets to work.
Millennial and younger generations of workers want to work for a company that gives back to the community and supports important issues such as diversity and climate change. In addition to the company’s CSR initiatives and marketing, offer employee volunteer opportunities and diversity/inclusion training.
The effects of the pandemic will continue to be felt in every workplace around the country. Some of these trends are already evident in the wish list above.
- Mental health — reflecting the soaring rates of stress, anxiety and depression
- Vaccine — encouraging hesitant workers to get the shots, reducing polarization within the company, making policy on non-compliant workers or job applicants
- Remote work / flexible schedules — are here to stay and need new support perks such as reimbursement for home office setups
- Family caregiving — another necessity that increases in tandem with work-from-home arrangements, to prevent distraction and loss of productivity
- Savings plans /financial tools — employees are now more aware that the next emergency or job loss will wipe them out, and are looking for payroll deduction savings options
- Increase in serious illnesses — health insurance plans could take a hit as employees skipped regular screening checkups in 2020, resulting later-stage diagnoses of cancer, heart disease, etc.
Improving communication of benefits
In a 2020 study by The Hartford, 69% of employers said that they are mostly or entirely responsible for ensuring that employees understand the benefits offered. New digital communication options can now be deployed to supplement the traditional annual issuing of the employee handbook or benefits enrollment forms.
- Easily digestible information bites such as emails or text messages
- Online benefits education and enrollment
- Virtual one-on-one or group consultations
- Live or pre-recorded webinars
- Communication channel tracking to determine best participation rates
One thing is clear: wages and benefits are nearly equal in importance to workers in today’s job market. How well employers respond to their needs will affect recruitment success for years to come.