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Recruit and retain employees with these top non-insurance related benefits & perks

December 3, 2018

By Kristen Cifolelli, courtesy SBAM Approved Partner ASE

It’s that time of year when many employers are deep in the middle of their benefits open enrollment period.  With unemployment at record lows, employee retention and engagement remain the two most pressing issues in HR today.  In order to differentiate themselves from their competitors, many employers are finding it imperative to utilize their benefit packages and employee perks as another tool in their arsenal to help promote loyalty and retention.  Recent data indicates that employees are looking for a well-rounded benefits package that goes beyond the traditional insurance coverage and want perks and programs that help them balance their busy work and home schedules.
Benefits provider Unum recently released the results of a survey they conducted regarding the top non-insurance or retirement related benefits desired by employees.  It should come as no surprise that the top benefits and perks had to do with flexible work options and time off.  In the Unum survey, participants were provided a list of 15 perks that were non-insurance or retirement benefits and asked to choose their top five options.  Here are the 15 perks & benefits ranked by popularity:

Paid Family Leave (58%) – Time off for new parents and for caregivers was the most coveted employee benefit.  According to SHRM’s annual benefits survey released in June, the percentage of employers offering paid maternity leave increased from 26% in 2016 to 35% in 2018.  During that same period, paternity leave increased from 21% to 29%.

Flexible/Remote Work Options (55%) – A close second behind paid family leave is the ability to work from home or have varying work hours.  According to SHRM more than 70% of organizations offer some form of telecommuting arrangement up from 59% in 2014.

Professional Development (39%) – Rounding out the top three is the desire for professional development which has been found to be highly important to employee overall job satisfaction. Helping employees build their careers demonstrates respect for them. It shows that their work is appreciated and that you’re concerned about their professional growth.

Sabbatical Leave (38%) – Nearly 4 in 10 employees say they would like extended time away from work, and that number is higher with Millennials at 42%.  Despite its high popularity this perk is a fairly unusual one.  According to SHRM only 5% of employers offer a paid sabbatical.

Gym Membership or Onsite Fitness Center (36%) – With sitting being deemed the “new smoking”, having access to affordable exercise benefits such as a paid gym membership or an on-site fitness center ranked high on the wish list.

Student Loan Repayment (35%) – According to the survey 1/3 of employees desire student debt repayment, but it should be no surprise that the percentage jumps to 55% for Millennials.  Recently, employers have started adding this benefit including such organizations as Aetna, Fidelity Investments, PWC, and clothing retailer Carhartt.  According to SHRM only 4% of employers offer assistance to repay student loans.

Onsite Healthy Snacks (28%) – High quality, healthy snacks are one of the highest bang-for-your-buck, most visible benefit, that virtually every employee uses and that aligns with the corporate trend in helping employees stay healthy.

Identity Theft Prevention (28%) – An employee who becomes a victim of identity theft faces a range of issues that can be a major distraction for them in the workplace.  Offering identity theft protection can boost productivity for an employee faced with this challenge.  Beginning in 2016, the IRS allowed employers to offer identity theft prevention benefits to employees with pre-tax dollars.

Financial Planning Resources (27%) – Offering financial planning and financial wellness resources can improve employee work quality.  Getting finances under control decreases presenteeism, when employees come to work but aren’t physically or emotionally able to do their jobs because they’re dealing with personal issues. Financial education for employees can be a budget friendly investment with easy setup and lasting value.

Fitness Goal Incentives (18%) – Implementing a workplace employee fitness incentive program can give employees the extra encouragement they need to get in shape.  Incentives can range from reductions in health insurance premiums to free biometric screenings.

Public Transit Assistance (16%) – Offering public transit assistance enables your company to positively influence your employees’ travel choices, improve employee retention, and demonstrate a commitment to cleaner air in the community.
Pet Insurance (15%) – Pet insurance has steadily increased in growth over the past several years.  Pet insurance has become a popular choice among hundreds of companies because of the close emotional bond employees have with their pets.

Pet Friendly Offices (15%) – According to research from Nationwide and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, a majority of employees feel a stronger connection to employers that embrace pet-friendly policies.

Health Coaching (14%) – Health coaching has become increasingly recognized as a wellness resource over the past decade. Health care can be very expensive, especially if health-related issues are only being treated after they become problematic. Health coaching can reduce health risks that could lead to poor quality of life and unnecessary costs for employers and employees.

Dedicated Volunteer Hours (12%) – Volunteer hours came in last in the list of benefits, though interest has bumped up in recent years.  According to the SHRM benefit survey, 22% of employers offer paid time off for volunteering.

This list may offer employers some new ideas in terms of what is valued by employees.  When considering what to offer though, be sure to keep in mind the type of talent you are trying to attract and retain.

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