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Trends in Employee Benefits - How to Make a Difference

When one hears the words employee benefits, typically health insurance pops into the mind (rightly so since the Center for Disease Control states there 28.4 million under age 65 uninsured in 2016), vacation, personal time, What exactly are the trending benefits employers offer to their employees outside of traditional benefits?

Often times there is a misconception that employers are required to provide benefits like health insurance. Certainly, employees know how valuable health, dental, and vision plans, life insurance, retirement plans, and paid personal time off are.

These benefits are tacked on to the employee salary and create a package that makes the employer more desirable.

"Give employees the benefits they value, and they'll be more satisfied, miss fewer workdays, be less likely to quit, and have higher commitment to meeting the company's goals," says Joe Lineberry, a senior vice president at Aon Consulting, a human resources consulting firm. "The research shows that when employees feel their benefits needs are satisfied, they're more productive." (Entrepreneur Magazine) Ok, a show of hands.....drum roll please! Do know the basics about benefits?

U.S. law requires employers to provide employees:

  • Give employees time off to vote, serve on a jury and perform military service.

  • Comply with all workers' compensation requirements.

  • Withhold FICA taxes from employees' paychecks and pay your own portion of FICA taxes, providing employees with retirement and disability benefits.

  • Pay state and federal unemployment taxes, thus providing benefits for unemployed workers.

  • Contribute to state short-term disability programs in states where such programs exist.

  • Comply with the Federal Family and Medical Leave (FMLA).

I have heard of trends with employers in central Florida where nutrition shoppers are hired by the company to ensure healthy foods are offered as snacks per survey results. Other firms also hire a company chef to prepare yummy delectable delights once or twice a week. That is an AWESOMELY incredible benefit, honestly who doesn’t want to have someone cook them gourmet food that is healthy and scrumptious?

While hiring a nutritionist or chef might not meet your budget there are other options that you have as a small business owners. Other trends that are easy for small to medium size businesses to implement; require some strategy and establishing a policy about perks and benefits that are additional incentives for employees

  • Flexible schedules

  • Work from home

  • Pet friendly environments

  • Volunteering with a nonprofit once a month (paid time off)

  • Company events centered around team building

  • Tuition assistance (partial or full)

“A perk typically consists of something that could help the employee perform a job better. More traditional perks at work may include a company car (which the employee also uses as a personal vehicle), discount travel fares, and exclusive access to premium hotel suites, while the newer breed of perks could include Summer Fridays, gym memberships, standing desks, and off-site team building activities” (Justworks).

“Millennials make up around 45% of the workforce, and they’d rather spend their money doing something cool and having an experience than buying or having material things,” said Jai Al-Attas, the 33-year-old founder of Loqules. “They’re a lot more socially aware, and they want to be part of companies or groups that give back to the community in some way.” (LA Times)

This trend is catching across multiple generations (not exclusive to millennials) and business sectors. People are more interested in making a difference in their communities. In today’s hiring market, companies are challenged to create benefits packages that both attract and retain talent.

The ability to give back to our community is trending in big ways. In 2014, Airbnb started offering employees four hours of paid time off every month to volunteer for local causes. Last year, it launched a dedicated volunteering week to allow employees to devote a larger chunk of time to local projects. Dropbox offers employees 32 paid hours a year to volunteer at nonprofits of their choosing, and it regularly hosts company-sponsored events where employees can serve meals at local charities. NetApp, a data management company in Silicon Valley, offers employees paid time off to volunteer, and it also works with nonprofit Rise Against Hunger to package meals (LA Times). “The response from employees has been extraordinarily positive,” said Matt Fawcett, general counsel at NetApp. “We sent a note to my team in Sunnyvale asking who wanted to get involved, and within 60 seconds there was a flood of replies” (LA Times).

Gallup published a report 2016 regarding what millennials want from the workplace. In the U.S., roughly 73 million millennials were born between 1980 and 1996. Like those in every generation before them, millennials strive for a life well-lived. They want good jobs -- ones with 30-plus hours of work a week and regular paychecks from employers.

They also want to be engaged in those jobs, meaning they are emotionally and behaviorally connected to them. Millennials apply the same mindset of "change" to the workplace. They want to be free of old workplace policies and performance management standards, and they expect leaders and managers to adapt accordingly. They see work and life as closely intertwined. Because of this, millennials want to have a different relationship with their manager. They want their manager to care about them as an employee and a person. Gallup has discovered that 62% of millennials who feel they can talk with their manager about non-work-related issues plan to be with their current organization one year from now.

Millennials are a largely optimistic group, and they believe that life and work should be worthwhile and have meaning. They want to learn and grow. A full 87% of millennials say professional development or career growth opportunities are very important to them in a job (Gallup).

So if you want to offer perks that matter and address trends for the new talent crew that is becoming the new guard, then consider giving back to our community. These trends will make your business competitive and stand out when compared to others. Be sure to consider your own company values and mission when selecting benefits and perks to offer. Make sure they align with your own culture, beliefs, and values. Happy employees mean they talk well about your business in social channels, face-to-face, and when networking. This carries over to your bottom line also. Employees talk to prospects and clients and they are your best source of advertising.

What perks and benefits does your business offer to employees? Do you offer any of these to your staff? How do you give back to our community? Join our conversation and share the article. Contact Isabella and let’s have a cup of tea and chat in person, phone or online.

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