Beyond traditional benefits such as health and retirement, many organizations use innovative benefits to meet the varied needs of their employees. Benefits like identify theft insurance and student loan repayment are gaining popularity as employers add new and innovative perks to reflect the needs of their diverse workforces.
This innovation in benefit offerings is even more important during the unprecedented events of 2020. Younger workers may place greater value on educational benefits to return to school for an advanced degree or to pay down student loan balances.
More health-conscious employees may value smoking cessation programs, while employees with longer commutes may place a high value on transportation subsidies. Workers with little free time may find significant value in on-site banking, postal or dry-cleaning services.
The International Foundation report Employee Benefits Survey—2020 Results captures benchmarking data on regular health, retirement and leave benefits but also on these newer miscellaneous offerings.
Corporations and public employers offer a variety of at-work perks, education benefits, access to events and entertainment, insurance, external services, and additional perks specifically for executive-level workers. Survey findings addressed several of the most prevalent types of innovative and miscellaneous benefits.
At-work perks aim to improve the workplace experience and, in turn, increase employee satisfaction and productivity.
- About two in three (64%) responding employers offer on-site coffee services, while more than five in nine (56%) have implemented a business casual dress code.
- Responding organizations are expanding on this concept and are commonly offering a casual dress code on Fridays (30%) or the entire week (31%).
- To encourage worker retention, three in five (60%) responding organizations have service award programs.
- Employer gift-giving is relatively common, particularly during the holidays (30%), or when an immediate family member of a worker dies (27%).
- To offset the costs of commuting, one in five (21%) responding organizations provides transportation benefits to workers, such as subsidies, or car- or vanpools.
- A similar proportion host “Take Your Child to Work” days (20%) and offer on-site or take-out meal options (19%).
- Though rare, employers are making efforts to combat workplace stress through the use of nap/privacy/meditation rooms (14%).
Employers commonly provide educational benefits to develop a well-trained workforce and combat increasing costs for their workers.
- Educational assistance plans are now offered by 48% of respondents, a substantial increase from the 2018 edition of this study.
- This is followed by workplace cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first-aid training (24%), and 529 plans (13%), which encourage saving for future educational expenses.
- In addition, 13% of respondents award scholarships or pay tuition for employees’ children, helping workers ease the financial burden of higher education.
- A small but increasing proportion of responding organizations offer student loan counseling/refinancing/consolidation (6%), and student loan repayment programs (6%). These offerings are an attractive benefit for college graduates with substantial loan debts.
Events and Entertainment
Employers increasingly understand the value of employees interacting socially with co-workers and their family members outside of the office.
- Responding organizations commonly supply discounted tickets to sporting, recreational or cultural events (39%), followed by hosting employee and family events including picnics, concerts and fairs (36%).
- Smaller proportions organize workplace sports teams, leagues or clubs (12%), or offer free or discounted activity lessons, such as personal training (6%).
Firms cover all or some of the premium on a variety of supplemental insurance products for workers who wish to purchase them.
- One in four responding employers (25%) offers access to identity theft insurance, a substantial increase from the 2018 edition of this study.
- In addition, smaller proportions offer access to group automobile insurance (13%) and group homeowner/property insurance (13%).
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Employers provide a variety of external services designed to reduce the burden on employee finances and free up worker time that is spent away from the office.
- These include employee product discounts (35%), subsidized cell phones and mobile devices (27%), financial benefits for relocating workers (21%), and matching charitable gift programs (20%).
- Responding organizations frequently offer employee purchase programs (16%), on-site dry cleaning and laundry services (13%), and on-site postal services (11%).
- While less common, other innovative organizations offer estate planning services (10%), followed by formal career counseling services (8%), on-site check cashing and banking (7%), funeral planning services (6%), concierge services (6%), and travel planning benefits (3%).
More than 35% of corporate respondents provide specific benefits to executives, including external services, compensation and retirement, supplemental insurance and travel benefits.
- Specifically, those that have these benefits most commonly offer supplemental executive retirement plans (54%), company car allowances (40%), executive physical examinations (39%), subsidized cell phones or mobile devices (36%), supplemental disability insurance (31%), and additional equity compensation (26%).
- Other common benefits include supplemental life insurance (24%), country/athletic club memberships (22%), executive coaching (22%) and first-class or busines class travel (16%).
Simple retirement and health plans are often no longer enough to attract and retain today’s workers, especially those with a college education and the student loan debt that comes with it. Employers are showing that they are willing to provide new and unique benefits in order to retain the best talent. We look forward to seeing how these innovative benefits will continue to grow and what other perks employers will offer in the future.
Related Reading: How to Navigate Remote Work and Help Employees Thrive in 2021
Justin Held, CEBS
Senior Research Analyst at the International Foundation
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