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A Closer Look at Employee Benefits

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With nearly seven baby boomers turning 65 every minute and younger workers continuing to make inroads in the workplace, employers are wrestling with creating benefit programs that meet the needs of today’s workforce. A review of the employee benefits literature provides some interesting insights about the most popular and/or competitive offerings that will appeal to today’s multigenerational workforce. Major themes include:

  • Benefit enhancements driven by savings from the Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed by Congress late last year.
  • “Cool” benefits and perks that go beyond the usual offerings
  • Benefits directly aimed at offering Millennials or Gen Z what they want from employers
  • Characteristics of firms that are among the “best places to work”

Here’s the rundown:

Some firms have used savings from the 2017 corporate tax cut legislation to expand their benefits programs. Illustrative examples from companies in the retail, food, pharmaceutical, insurance, and banking industries that boosted their offerings are as follows:

  • Extending the time for paid leave benefits
  • Increased adoption assistance
  • Help with fertility treatments – one firm is capping surrogacy and fertility-related benefits at $40,000
  • $5,000 cash payment per employee who receive a cancer diagnosis
  • Concierge services to help employees navigate their health care benefits
  • Up to $10,000 towards student loan debt
  • Generous maternity and paternity leave benefits for full-time, hourly, and part-time employees
  • Increased life-insurance coverage
  • Shift in legal services from a voluntary benefit option to an employer-paid benefit
  • Enhanced contributions to defined benefit, defined contribution, and cash balance plan formulas

Other firms are offering “cool benefits & perks” in addition to the types of offerings funded through tax savings. These benefits are not limited to Silicon Valley firms and range from health and wellness programs to pet care and more:

  • In-office bikes
  • Free housing (for certain employees)
  • Annual retreats
  • Yoga rooms
  • Pet playrooms and on-site dog walking
  • Stress management services
  • Child and eldercare consulting services
  • New parent programs including prenatal classes
  • Cardio-kickboxing classes
  • Healthy meal options in company cafeteria
  • Healthy cooking lessons
  • Sabbatical programs – allowing for unpaid leave for any reason
  • Time off to pursue career enhancement opportunities
  • Free concierge services for any type of errand
  • Free lifetime membership in the company fitness center for retirees

Giving employees what they want

Whether employers enhanced their benefits and perks through legislative tax cuts or designed new programs specifically to attract top talent, one recent survey showed they are right on the money with creating benefit strategies that will appeal to a multigenerational workforce. While Millennials are focused on health insurance, student loan repayment, flexible work arrangements, retirement funding, and a sense a purpose from the workplace, benefit gurus are predicting that for the newest generation of workers – Gen Z – it’s all about culture, coaching, and technology. High on Gen Z’s priority list are personal and professional growth, help with finances, and an emphasis on wellness that goes beyond healthy food choices and an onsite gym. In fact, some firms are bringing the farm-to-table movement to the workplace as a way to attract talent. This innovative benefit enables employers to enhance wellness programs by offering fresh produce to employees through collaboration with a local farm cooperative.

Benefits and “best places to work”

Companies that make “best places to work” lists, or that are highly rated by their employees, earn those kudos not just because of their benefit programs. According to online job site provider and recruiter Indeed, companies designated as top-rated workplaces offer the whole package – a combination of compensation and benefits to enable employees to support themselves and their families and a corporate culture to give them a sense of feeling valued.  Common attributes of the “best firms” are:

  • Great compensation programs
  • Exceptional health, wellness, and retirement benefits
  • Caring about employee well-being

How do your benefits programs measure up to the overall employee experience?

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