What Benefits Do Employees Really Want?

Offering a generous benefit package is essential for attracting top talent in today’s hiring market. As unemployment falls and the labor market tightens, employees are looking for more from their employers than just a paycheck. Enter benefits and perks – they sound similar, but they’re two distinct things.

Generally speaking, benefits are what an employee would expect from an employer, while perks are seen as added bonuses and vary greatly from employer to employer.  Benefits should be seen as additional forms of compensation such as health insurance, 401(k) matches, retirement plans, etc.  Perks are primarily focused on things that help the employee be happier, healthier, or more productive.  Gym memberships, staff parties, telecommuting, dry cleaning, and company cars are all examples of employee perks. An effective benefits plan depends on a variety of factors, such as employee demographic, company size, and industry but there are some common items that most all employees have come to expect.

Both benefits and perks are very important to job seekers, and as the workforce changes, keeping up with the wants vs. needs of potential employees can be difficult for companies. So, what are employees really after in terms of benefits? And are certain perks becoming more expected?  

Health insurance, paid time off (PTO), retirement savings plans, and supplementary insurance programs such as dental, vision, and mental health coverage are among the top of the list for job seekers. Employees want the reassurance that they can take care of themselves if they or their family member gets sick and that they can take a break if they want to take a break. The U.S. still falls well below the rest of the developed world when it comes to PTO, but it’s a basic belief of employees that they should get to take a vacation.  In addition, additional family leave (other than the required FMLA) is especially important to younger employees who may be getting ready to start families.  When designing a benefit program, it’s a good idea for employers to meet some, if not all, of these expectations if they hope to attract and retain the best staff.  

There are certain perks that employees are starting to expect.  Offering flexible work schedules and work from home options are almost standard practices in many bigger cities and are becoming more common in smaller cities and towns as well.  As the work itself changes, the ability to do the work from anywhere grows and is enticing to those with long commutes, parents, or people who do better work away from the office.  Flexible work schedules and remote options also help to create a good work/life balance which is very important to the modern employee.  

Employees have also begun to expect their employers to offer a certain amount of professional development.  Employees want to continue to grow and learn in their careers and by offering professional development, employers show their employees that they want to invest in them.  It can boost both attraction and retention and produce greater efficiency.

Wellness programs such as on-site fitness centers, standing desks, fitness challenges, tobacco cessation programs, and CPR training are also very popular perks but not as expected as the aforementioned.  Offering wellness programs, however, is proactive.  The healthier the employee is, the less expensive their health insurance will be, the less sick days they’ll have to take, and the less stressed they’ll be. Those are all benefits to the employer as well as the employee.  

If you need advice on creating a benefits package to fit your needs and the needs of your employees, contact The Grigg Group!

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