Employee benefits have long been touted as a tool for competing for an industry’s top talent. Business experts have spent decades telling us that the best benefits packages keep employees happy. Although that may be true, it might not be for the reasons most people suspect. Evidence to that end is beginning to appear in the form of advice encouraging employers to get creative with new benefits that move beyond mere compensation.
For tax purposes, all employee benefits amount to compensation in some way, shape, or form. Even something like a health club membership would be considered compensation in that it has monetary value. Not having to pay for the membership itself puts a little cash back into the employee’s pocket.
Creatively addressing employee benefits to move beyond compensation requires a new way of thinking. Rather than only looking at dollars and cents, it is a matter of looking at how benefits make employees feel about their job situations.
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Everybody Gets Health Insurance
It used to be that a solid health insurance plan could make the difference between hiring top talent and losing it to competitors. These days, health insurance is standard fare. The general perception among employees is that everyone gets it. Even though that’s not true, most employees are not overly impressed with a standard health insurance package. They might not even be impressed with one that includes dental, vision, and prescription coverage.
The take-away here is that offering traditional health insurance doesn’t say as much as it used to about an employer’s commitment to its workers. Because everybody gets it, there isn’t anything special about it. That tends to make employees feel ambivalent about it.
Personal Benefits Are Different
If standard benefits just about everyone gets do very little to excite employees, are there any benefits that will get them excited? Absolutely. They are benefits that demonstrate a more personal commitment to employees. They are benefits that demonstrate employers are looking beyond mere compensation to try to understand what is important to their workers.
Pet insurance is a good example. It is something that BenefitMall, a general agency located in Dallas, is starting to talk about with its brokers and agents. Offering pet insurance demonstrates that an employer is thinking about what is important to employees outside of the workplace.
Other more personal benefits options include:
- Student loan benefits designed to help employees get their education debt paid off more quickly.
- Long-term illness coverage to provide extra income during extended illnesses.
- Childcare assistance, as either direct payments or on-site facilities.
- Life insurance – both term and whole life policies.
The one thing all these benefits have in common is their ability to address things the modern workforce is concerned about. Take long-term illness coverage. It is now important to employees concerned about the long-term effects of contracting COVID.
Valuing Employees as People
One of the big problems facing employers in the wake of the pandemic is a perception among employees that they are not truly valued. Employees see themselves more as resources than human beings. Getting creative with benefits is one way to combat that perception.
Unfortunately, we have fostered an environment in which employee benefits are viewed as nothing more than a recruiting and retention tool. Employees aren’t dumb. They see it just as clearly as their employers. The whole point of getting creative with benefits packages is to help employees see that they truly are valued.
Change the value perception and you change the current turnover paradigm. One way to do that is to creatively expand benefits packages to get beyond mere compensation.