10 Financial Benefits That Employees Actually Want

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The unemployment rate is low and the Great Resignation is still hot, indicating that employees have the upper hand and should feel encouraged to speak up and get what they want from their employers. At the same time, employers need to double down on listening to their staff and get more serious about providing them with financial benefits that extend well beyond a paycheck and a handful of sick days. What financial benefits do employees actually want right now? Let’s find out.

Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA) 

“An LSA allows employees to choose what matters most to them,” said Jaclyn Chen, CEO and co-founder of Benepass. “Certain employees may treat it as a rainy day fund — a huge value given the turmoil caused by the pandemic in the past two years — while others may use it to enhance their personal or professional wellbeing. The purpose of offering an LSA is flexibility — allowing employees to use the funds on what matters most to them.” 

Matching Charitable Contributions 

“Today’s employees, more than ever, want to see the organizations they work for supporting causes they believe in,” said Amy Marcum, senior human resource specialist at Insperity. “Establishing an employee matching gift program is an easy win in this area. Employees will feel supported in making positive impacts for causes they care about; you will likely play a bigger part in supporting your local community as a result and employee engagement will rise.”

Help With Student Loan Repayment or Tuition Reimbursement

“In a competitive job market, one way to attract a younger workforce is to help tackle their (often) biggest debts with a student loan repayment benefit,” Marcum said. “This can be done on a smaller scale — you could start by offering $50-$100 a month. Another way to support new graduate hires or staff working toward more advanced degrees and certifications is through tuition reimbursement. This educational benefit allows employees to be reimbursed up to $5,250 a year in tax-free tuition costs.”

New Parent Support 

“Whether it’s during pregnancy, adoption, infancy, toddler years or beyond, there are helpful and unique ways to support parents and primary caregivers,” Marcum said. “Time off and flexible scheduling is one of the top perks that employees needing this type of support want to see. Make sure communication is clear as to the PTO time allowed under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or equivalent laws at the state level. New parent support can also be implemented in how your employee is transitioned back to work.”

To extend support to parents of young children and infants, Marcum recommends that employers implement the following low-cost measures: 

  • A plan of action in advance
  • Flexibility
  • Remote or hybrid work
  • Allowance for transition time, including potentially part-time work
  • Facilities on-site that allow for extended breaks for breastfeeding mothers

Health Insurance  

“Due to the rising costs of healthcare, [health insurance] is a must in the eyes of many employees,” said Dawn Motsiff, senior human resource advisor at Insperity. “Choosing a high-deductible plan may help you pay less in premiums, but requires your employees to cover more of their costs out of pocket; however, some businesses offset this cost to their employees by contributing money to health savings accounts.”

Another cost-conscious option for small businesses that Motsiff recommends is joining a professional employer organization (PEO) that can provide employees with health coverage under a PEO-sponsored health plan, relieving employers of the administrative costs associated with offering their own health plan. 

Life Insurance

“Providing life insurance protects employees’ families by paying a specified amount to employees’ beneficiaries in the event of death,” Motsiff said. “A good policy pays out at least the cost of funeral expenses, around $20,000. Life insurance premiums are typically affordable for most businesses.”

Disability Insurance 

“This replaces income for employees who become unable to work because of sickness or accidents,” Motsiff said. “Aim for a plan that covers at least 60 percent of employees’ salaries.”

401(k) With Employer Matching

“This is one of the most important financial perks amongst my clients,” said Steve Sexton, financial consultant and CEO of Sexton Advisory Group.com. “Employees seek the ability to contribute towards their retirement as a result of a 401(k). If an employer offers matching of your 401(k) contributions – meaning an employer contributes a certain amount to your retirement savings based on the amount of your annual contribution – this is an even more attractive financial perk. Not taking advantage of employer matching is like leaving free money on the table.” 

Extra Paid Time Off (PTO) 

“Most employees will expect you to offer paid time off for national holidays, as well as vacations and sick leave (the standard is at least three weeks per year),” Motsiff said. “If you really want to set your business apart, you may want to provide additional PTO for things like volunteer work as an added employee benefit.” 

Financial Planning and Coaching

“Navigating retirement planning and significant life events, such as buying a home or expanding their family, require advanced financial knowledge,” Chen said. “Consider bringing in experts who can help employees manage their personal finances, including making a big purchase, planning for retirement and managing their debt.” 

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