Source : https://www.weisbergcummings.com/popular-employee-perks/
Most Interesting facts about Benefits Administration is a challenging job for every employer. It helps them to onboard best employees.
As the job market grows tighter, smart companies realize that attracting the best talent requires offering more than a good starting salary. Surveys have shown that employee perks and benefits are playing an increasingly important role in attracting the best candidates and retaining current employees.
So, what should job seekers look out for? We’ve compiled some of the top employee benefits to offer in 2020.
WHY ARE PERKS IMPORTANT?
Benefits packages are a win-win for employees and employers. Benefits improve an employee’s standard of living and increase their happiness. Benefits also make a company more in demand and increase productivity. Here are some of the reasons perks are essential in the modern workplace.
Why Perks Matter for Employees
For an employee, the difference excellent benefits can make is staggering. Here’s how they can help employees.
- Achieve a better work-life balance: A good employer knows their team has obligations outside of work. Work can make it difficult to go to the doctor, take care of a sick child or even make weekend plans. Hardworking employees need the freedom to live their lives, too. That’s why many employers offer benefits designed to let employees do what matters to them. Flexible hours, remote work, paid sick days and parental leave help workers find work-life balance.
- Work with happier co-workers: Benefits also have positive effects on team morale. Employer benefits can decrease stress at the office and pave the way to creating a good company culture. Perks lead to happy employees and co-workers, which can make work more enjoyable.
- Find financial security: Salary isn’t an employee’s only source of financial security. Many businesses offer retirement plans, insurance, tuition reimbursement, discounts and other perks. All these help cover employees’ living expenses and make life more affordable. Some even take it a step further, offering financial planning and investment advice.
- Take care of personal health: Health insurance is the best-known and most highly sought-after job benefit. Robust insurance packages might even include dental and vision coverage. This perk helps employees pay for health care. Employers can take things a step further by offering wellness programs, gyms or on-site fitness classes.
- Travel more: Two weeks’ paid vacation is a standard employee benefit. Many American workers don’t take all their vacation days. Others can’t unplug or can’t afford to travel enough. Companies with great travel benefits may go above and beyond the standard two weeks of vacation. Some offer unlimited time off or travel bonuses. Many require employees to not check in while they’re away.
- Know the company cares: Even if an employee doesn’t use a benefit, knowing it’s there can ease a lot of stress. For example, most employees don’t take parental leave because they don’t have a baby yet. Still, people have one less thing to worry about when they can rely on their company to support them when the time comes. In general, having benefits is a reminder that a company cares about employee well-being.
Why Perks Matter for Employers
As an employer, you can use perks and benefits as a way of showing your employees that you regard them as significant contributors to the success of your business and that you are willing to listen to them about ways you can improve the work environment. Benefits also offer many concrete advantages to employers.
- Attract the best new talent: The unemployment rate as of December 2019 is a mere 3.5%, a historic low. While a decade ago, people took jobs no matter the compensation package, this is no longer the case. Job hunters have more flexibility to choose who they work for. Companies offer more benefits to keep up. A benefits package that addresses employees’ needs and provides a few unexpected perks can set an employer apart as a top place to work.
- Maintain your most valuable asset: The people in a company are vital to its success. Employers use benefits to meet their goal of retaining top talent. It’s pretty rare for a person to stay at the same job for more than five years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 70% of positions taken by 18- to 24-year-olds end in less than a year, and 93% end in fewer than five. For 35- to 44-year-olds, 36% of jobs end in less than a year and 75% end in fewer than five years. Benefits can help employers hang onto their talented workers for longer. Some benefits, such as professional development, may even bolster their team with new skills.
- Stay competitive in the market: Industry leaders often receive accolades for having some of the best benefits in the business. As competitors begin offering better benefits, their counterparts offer similar ones to compete. Without keeping pace, companies risk losing talent to their top competitors. Employees view companies that don’t provide need-to-have benefits poorly, with 34% believing such companies are “behind the curve.”
- Create a sense of community and teamwork: Some benefits, such as on-site facilities, retreats and team bonding activities, work as more than perks. They also build community. Company gyms, cafes and lounges turn HQ into a destination. They give co-workers a chance to interact while doing something they enjoy. Company retreats and team-building exercises give workers a break that also improves relationships. All this community-building translates into better team communication.
- Get buy-in from employees: Companies work hard to create a healthy corporate culture. Benefits are integral to achieving this goal because they keep employees satisfied. When people are happy, they are more likely to engage and contribute to corporate culture.
- Gain positive public perception: We see some companies gain worldwide acclaim for their generous benefits. Companies like Google and Microsoft make headlines for their luxury perks, such as catered meals and on-site child care. But it doesn’t take a considerable investment to reap some good PR from a benefits package. People prefer to do business with companies that treat their employees well. A company that doesn’t offer benefits or offers only the bare minimum is more likely to take a hit in the public eye, too.
- Improve productivity: Some of the most significant stress factors for the modern workforce include the costs of health care and child care. Stress follows people throughout the day and can eat away at productivity. Benefits can ease these concerns for employees, giving them more energy to focus on work. Perks such as gym memberships and snacks can improve wellness and boost productivity.
- Financial gains: Cheerful people make more sales. Employees who feel taken care of by their employers are more invested in a company’s success. Remote work can cut down on office space and electricity costs. Offering benefits may increase sales and encourage workers to make their company more efficient.
POPULAR PERKS AND BENEFITS IN 2020
Here are some of the most important benefits to employees in 2020:
1. Remote Work
Employees value being able to work from home. In some cases, working from home one or two days a week can be like receiving a pay increase, since the employee will not have to pay for parking or transportation to reach the office. Reduced travel can also lead to indirect savings, such as a lower car insurance rate and less wear and tear on vehicles.
Remote work can allow employees to take care of a sick child and save people time in their daily lives. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average one-way commute hit 27.1 minutes in 2018. This number has been steadily rising since 2010. That time adds up to almost one hour every day, without adding in the frustration of traffic and bus schedules.
A recent study found 91% of remote workers feel they have a better work-life balance, and 78% feel they have less stress. Remote work can be great for companies — 79% of remote workers feel they have increased productivity. Remote workers are also 13% more likely to stay with their current job for the next five years. Offering remote and partially remote work can also let a company use less office space.
2. Flexible Hours
Studies show that productivity increases if employees can flex their work hours. Some employees enjoy working early morning hours, while others prefer the afternoon. Allowing employees to choose when they work maximizes their productivity and happiness.
Flexible hours let employees go to appointments without taking sick time. Flextime can also allow employees to come in and leave early if they have afternoon plans or are going on a trip. Flexible hours are in high demand, with 92% of millennials ranking it as a top priority. It’s a cost-effective benefit, with 30% of UK workers saying they would take a flexible schedule over a pay raise.
Some of the companies that offer flexible work schedules or allow employees to work from home include Amazon, Colgate-Palmolive, SAP, UnitedHealth and Aetna.
3. Paid Family Leave
Unlike many other countries in the world, such as Finland or Canada, that offer generous family leave for both new mothers and fathers, the United States has been slow to move in this direction. Therefore, when a business provides paid family leave for new parents or other caregivers, it becomes a genuine incentive for both recruitment and employee retention.
According to the annual benefits survey done by The Society for Human Resource Management, the number of employers that offered women paid maternity rested at 34% in 2019. At the same time, 30% of companies provide fathers with paid paternity leave, and 29% offer paid adoption leave. Companies that choose to provide paid family leave have an edge when it comes to hiring.
Companies that offer paid paternal leave understand this benefit reduces the mental and financial stress for employees with families. Netflix, which provides its employees with up to 12 months of paid parental leave, is a leader in this field.
There are also a few other trends in family-oriented benefits on the horizon. On-site lactation rooms, or private areas where new mothers can pump breast milk, have seen a 15% increase since 2015. In 2019, 51% of companies offered such a facility. Some companies provide lactation counseling. Goldman Sachs, Twitter and IBM even pay for women to pump and ship breast milk while on business trips.
For parents re-entering the workforce, 12% of companies now have on-ramping programs. These programs let parents work part-time or flexible schedules as they return. Gaming company Activision Blizzard knows the importance of sleep for new parents, which is why they send new parents home with a $1,500 bassinet designed to lull babies to sleep.
4. Free Food in the Office
People can work in an office setting for years and only get to know the people who work a desk or two away from them. Companies have found that offering free food through events such as Pizza Fridays or Doughnut Tuesdays is a good way to break down these walls and allow different departments to socialize in a work setting. Free food can also encourage attendance at optional meetings.
Some companies use themed lunches like Pirate Day or Cowboy Day to promote teamwork and socialization within the office. Companies that do this, such as goodbyecrutches.com, offer a great way for employees to interact on social media, build relationships with customers and vendors and create a valuable recruiting tool, thanks to the social media presence the company produces with these events.
Other companies offer free food daily. Moz.com, which specializes in search engine optimization, has a never-ending cereal bar. For companies that can afford it, free breakfasts and lunches are perks that employees love. These kinds of free food perks are particularly attractive to millennials and Generation Z employees.
Free snacks and beverages are on the rise, with 31% of companies now offering them in the office, up from 20% in 2016. Around 13% of companies offer a free or partially subsidized cafeteria. This small percentage leaves an untapped market for many companies. Even a few food and beverage offerings can up a company’s appeal. While 56% of employees are “very” or “extremely happy” at work, 67% of workers with free food at the office express the same satisfaction.
5. Fitness Perks
Fitness perks have grown to be something more than subsidized or free gym memberships. Companies are increasingly offering in-office benefits like yoga in the mornings or pilates after work. One business, Practice Fusion, gave its employees Fitbits to track their fitness progress. Meanwhile, Pentland Brands has an on-site swimming pool, fitness facilities and an outdoor soccer/football field to encourage employees to exercise in a fun way.
Smaller companies also offer employees fitness benefits. The creation of running clubs is a popular idea. Companies allow their employees to take an hour off to go for a run whenever they like because it helps clear their minds and increases friendships and connections among employees. Some companies offer to pay the registration fees for their employees to enter 5K runs or other fitness challenges.
Another fitness perk companies offer is an insurance discount for those who take part in wellness programs. Nearly one in five employees say they would like incentives tied to wellness programs. So, companies are responding by offering discounts on health insurance.
Surprisingly, many companies don’t offer fitness incentives. Fitness incentives that encourage gym memberships or running clubs help improve employees’ fitness, which reduces the company’s healthcare costs, employees feel better, need fewer sick days and are more alert and productive on the job.
This perk is critical to older employees and those with families. In a study conducted by Metlife, 81% of employees see medical insurance provided by the company as a must-have benefit. According to the Harvard Business Review, 88% of job seekers would consider a lower-paying job that offered better health insurance. Given this data, health care is one of the most valuable benefits to employees.
Health care coverage can be expensive, as we all know. Companies that are willing to offer employees medical benefits will attract and retain top talent. Some companies even organize free dental days where dentists come into the office and employees can schedule cleanings or fillings.
Mental health benefits are playing a central role in the workplace. An increasing number of companies are offering mental health benefits to employees. Those benefits include options for telehealth sessions since it is often difficult for many employees to schedule time outside the office to meet with a therapist. Capital One Financial’s Employee Assistance Program is a great example. Besides counseling, they also coach employees through changes such as having a baby.
Some companies are creating relaxation or meditation rooms where stressed employees can go for a rejuvenating break. Others use a program that educates other employees about ways they can help coworkers who are dealing with mental health issues.
7. Student Loan Assistance
Tuition reimbursement is a perk increasingly sought out by millennial and Generation Z employees. According to a survey by Unum, an employee benefits company, about one-third of all employees see student loan repayment as a positive benefit. That percentage goes up to 55% among millennials. For many of those in this generation and Generation Z, student loan help is a must-have perk.
Companies that wish to attract the best young talent need to consider establishing a student loan assistance program. Some of the companies already moving in this direction include Carhartt, GlaxoSmithKline and Pure Insurance.
8. Pet Insurance and Pet-Friendly Offices
Pet-friendly perks are attractive to both ends of the age spectrum. For younger people who choose to start families later in life and for empty-nesters looking to fill a void after the children have moved out, pets are a popular option. Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows how expensive veterinarian bills can be. Employees in this situation view the opportunity to purchase pet insurance as a big positive.
Indiana University Health, which employs over 30,000 people in 15 hospital systems, has offered this is a benefit since 2009.
Meanwhile, employees appreciate the opportunity to bring their pets to work. Even people without pets enjoy working in a pet-friendly environment. Employees appreciate the opportunity to bring their pets to work. It’s good for everyone in the office, as it creates a positive, family-like work atmosphere.
Some companies treat their pet parents as they would any other new parent. At these offices, employees may take paid leave to take care of a new pet. Affectionately called “paw-ternity leave,” this policy lets workers take time to bond with their new furry friend. Marketing tech company BounceX offers two days of paw-ternity leave to new pet owners. They also provide a $250 Amazon gift card for pet supplies. The American Kennel Club states paw-ternity leave can help new dog owners crate and potty train their dogs.
9. Paid Time Off
Generous vacation days have always been a popular benefit among employees, and are one of the best ways a business can attract recruits. Paid time off can be critical to employee success. It helps people recharge and feel more productive when they come back. People who take 11 or more vacation days a year are 30% more likely to receive a raise than those who don’t. Yet, according to the U.S. Travel Association, in 2018, 55% of Americans did not use all their vacation days.
Some businesses see this issue and use paid time off benefits to help their employees thrive. Airline marketing firm SimpliFlying decided to require its employees to take one week off every seven weeks without exception. This tactic eliminated the guilt people felt from using their vacation days and increased employee creativity by 33%. Employee happiness went up 25%, and productivity increased by 13%.
Many companies, such as Netflix and Moz.com, are going beyond the traditional vacation package and either offering unlimited vacation days or taking steps to make sure that their employees take all of vacation days that they have earned. Vacation stipends and requiring employees not to email the office are both ways companies provide innovative vacation benefits.
Moz.com offers a $3,000 vacation reimbursement to encourage its employees to use their vacation time. Airbnb gives employees a $2,000 vacation stipend to use at any Airbnb in the world. Some companies only pay employees for their time off if they do not send any work-related emails. Company culture recognizes that rested and refreshed employees are much more productive than those who push their vacation days to the side and become overstressed and overtired.
10. Four-Day Work Week
Some companies, such as Boogie, a multicultural marketing firm, are experimenting with the four-day workweek as an incentive for employees. At Boogie, the workday starts at 8 a.m. and continues until 1 p.m. After a two-hour lunch, work resumes at 3 p.m. and lasts until 7 p.m. Other companies let employees work “nine-nines.” This schedule gives employees every other Friday off, but they work nine-hour days. This workflow results in 81 hours over two weeks, so while employees get a three-day weekend every other week, they are actually giving the company one more hour every two weeks than employees who work eight hours a day, five days a week, with an hour off for lunch.
Microsoft Japan recently let employees work four days a week with the same five-day paycheck. The experiment was a success, resulting in a 40% increase in productivity, as well as savings in electricity and printing costs. To make room for the lost time, the company also encouraged cutting meetings to 30 minutes and limiting their attendance, saving valuable work time.
“Summer Fridays” are another popular version of the four-day workweek. Instead of creating a permanent schedule change, summer Friday policies give employees the day off on Fridays in the summer. Another variation gives employees a choice between one Friday off every two weeks or one half-day off every Friday. This benefit lets employees enjoy warm summer weather or take weekend trips. Many companies also view the policy as one that makes the other four days of the week more productive.
11. Retirement and Pension Plans
Retirement plans are one of the most popular perks offered to employees. Companies encourage employees to invest in retirement and pension plans by offering to match a certain percentage of their salary, say 3% percent or more. So if the employee will put 3% of their salary into a retirement plan, the company will match it.
Retirement assistance is the benefit employers believe has the most value for employees, second only to health care. It’s one of the most prevalent employee benefits, with 93% of employers offering traditional 401(k) plans, and 74% matching employee contributions at some level.
12. Commuter Assistance
Travel perks are a popular option in urban settings. Companies offset the cost of public transportation for their employees through a monthly stipend. Other companies, like Microsoft, provide free bus or shuttle services for employees who do not wish to drive, and bicycle repairs and tune-ups for employees who cycle to work.
This benefit gives employees relief when it comes to their commuting expenses, and travel allowances are also tax-free. In 2019, the IRS increased the amount of tax-free transportation benefits exclusion to $265 per month. This tax benefit makes a commuter stipend preferable to many employees over a slight bump in salary.
People are probably familiar with the idea of sabbaticals in an academic setting. University professors will often take a year off to write a book or learn more about their field of study.
Many employees of traditional companies appreciate the opportunity to take an extended break from their jobs. It is another popular perk among millennials and members of Generation Z. Paid sabbatical leave is a perk 38% of workers want, with 42% of millennials expressing a strong interest. Only 5% of companies offer paid sabbaticals, while 11% of companies provide unpaid leaves of absence.
Companies that offer sabbaticals allow workers to take a set amount of time off after they’ve been on staff for several years. The length and earning period for these hiatuses varies by company. Employees of Capterra, which helps businesses find the best software to use, can take a fully paid, five-week leave for every five years that they work at the company. Company officials believe that offering the perk is positive for their employees’ health and personal growth.
13. Freebies and Discounts
Companies often allow employees the opportunity to purchase their products at a reduced price. People who work for large grocery chains, like the Giant chain in Virginia, receive an employee discount on all purchases.
Many companies offer freebies and perks related to their brands. Leaders in the freebie benefits sphere include Casper, which gives their employees free mattresses, and Random House, which gives their employees free books. Ben and Jerry’s offers their employees three pints of ice cream every day.
Another popular option is to offer employees discounts to either shop at certain retailers or book travel through specific websites. Employers can also provide employees discounts on tickets for movies, concerts, sporting events and theatrical productions.
Other freebies or discounts include:
- Babysitting services
- Magazine subscriptions
- Subscriptions to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or DirecTV Now
- Petsitting when the employee goes on vacation
- Visits to spas or similar facilities
OTHER POPULAR PERKS
The perks listed above are among the most in-demand benefits offered by employers, but there are other perks such as nap rooms. Several studies have shown that allowing an employee to get a half-hour or hour-long nap during the day increases their productivity and creativity. Unique employee benefits such as nap rooms help companies stand out from others in their industry.
Innovative employee perks that provide similar benefits for both companies and employees include:
- A games room with foosball tables, pool, darts and even arcade games
- Climbing walls
- Free beer
- Music rooms, complete with instruments and couches
- Performance bonuses
- Professional development and skills programs
- Time off for volunteer activities
- Company-wide breaks and shutdowns
- Health coaches
- Financial planning advice
- Enrollment in ID theft protection programs
- Child care assistance
- On-site child care facilities
- Casual dress days
FUTURE TRENDS IN EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
Some employee benefits continue to reign supreme. Classic benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans stay on the forefront of job seekers’ minds. Modern workplace benefits, such as flexible hours and remote work opportunities, continue to trend upward in desirability by employees and offerings by employers. There are also some unique trends in employee perks on the horizon. Here are some of the recent employee benefit trends we expect to continue in 2020.
- Standing desks: A perk that focuses on wellness, standing desks have increased by 7% in the past year, which is one of the most significant increases in employee benefits. While five years ago, only 25% of offices provided standing desks, 61% now say they either provide or subsidize the cost of standing desks for employees. As more research comes out about the benefits of standing throughout the day, standing desks are sure to climb in rank for employee benefit packages.
- Paternity leave: While parental leave was once something mostly offered to new mothers, new dads get paternity leave almost as frequently as new moms. In 2015, just 17% of companies offer dads the option to take paternity leave, while now 30% give new fathers paid time off when the baby arrives.
- Bonus programs: The way we give our teams bonuses is changing. Non-executive incentive bonus programs are decreasing. Where almost half of companies had them in 2015, only 32% of companies offered them in 2019, according to a 2019 Society for Human Resource Management survey. These bonuses aren’t going by the wayside. Instead, they’re transitioning into other forms. Employee referral bonuses went from 44% in 2015 to 52% in 2019, and unscheduled rewards for above-and-beyond service went from 45% to 51% in the same time frame.
- Mealtime flex: A specific kind of flexible hours allows people to choose their meal schedule. Employees have the flexibility to make up hours for taking a longer lunch break or may leave early for taking a shorter break. While 41% of companies provided this benefit in 2018, in 2019, we saw 47% of companies offer this.
- Life coaching: Once considered a unique luxury perk, life coaching may be a trend that’s tapering off. While 46% of companies offered some form of personal life coaching in 2015, it has decreased every year since. Now, only 14% of companies have such a perk.
- Four-day workweek: Companies are seeing increased productivity by limiting the amount of time in the office. Four-day workweeks are on the rise. It may even be a law someday. In January 2020, a Washington state lawmaker proposed a 32-hour workweek. While legally enforced four-day workweeks may be a long way off, summer Fridays are trending up. Over half of American companies instituted a summer Friday policy in 2019, up from 44% in 2018.
- Benefits based on need: It’s no secret that millennials and those in Generation X have different needs. Even among millennials, some are old enough to start families, while others are still on their parents’ insurance plans. As Generation Z enters the workforce and baby boomers are staying longer before retirement, the need for increased flexibility in benefits packages is emerging. It can be helpful for companies to offer a variety of benefits options, letting each employee select more of the benefits that matter to them.
IF YOU FEEL YOUR EMPLOYER IS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF YOU, CONTACT WEISBERG CUMMINGS, P.C.
The companies mentioned above that offer such positive employee benefits provide the model that all companies should aim for. Unfortunately, many employers will fall short and not treat their employees fairly. If you find yourself in this situation, contact Weisberg Cummings, P.C. We are employment law attorneys, and we will work with you to ensure your employer is following all applicable laws governing your rights to a work environment free from illegal discrimination and harassment, whether your issue is problems with being equal pay or working in an oppressive office situation that is affecting your health.
We’re happy to offer a free consultation. You can either call us or contact us online, where you can leave your contact information and some details about your situation.