Employers offer unique employee benefits to respond to employees’ needs. Offering interesting employee benefits supports recruitment and retention efforts.
For many years, employers offered a predictable selection of benefits to employees. The list of typical employee benefits generally included health insurance, life insurance, and dental insurance.
In addition to these insurance-based benefits, employees were usually offered varying amounts of vacation time, sick leave and holiday pay.
Workplace Trends Impact Employee Benefits
Two factors have emerged that have had a profound influence on employee benefits offerings. These are: changing workforce demographics and increased competition for the best and brightest employees.
During the late 1970s and into the 1980s, a large number of women entered the workforce. As a result, progressive employers began to emphasize family-friendly benefits.
The explosion of technology in the 1990s brought a new classification of employees known as the knowledge worker. Because of the nature of their jobs, these employees often work remotely and are not tied to traditional 9 to 5 office hours. Work-life balance can be compromised when employees do not have traditional work hours or when working remotely.
Family-friendly Employee Benefits
Today, benefits that are designed to support the employee’s family obligations are offered at many recognized best places to work. These interesting employee benefits include:
- Onsite or near-site child care centers, which are employer-sponsored facilities that provide daycare for employees’ children. Some of these centers are certified as academic environments.
- Eldercare support, which can be provided through referral services or in an employer-sponsored facility.
- Backup care, a benefit that provides care for employees’ loved ones when the employee cannot miss work.
- College admission support or homework help, including services that ease the complex burden of college search or provide educational support for employees’ children or the employees themselves.
As the lines between home life and work-life converged, employment laws evolved to further support employees’ family obligations. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993 to provide, among other benefits, job-protected time away for employees who serve as caregivers for family members with serious medical conditions.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010, commonly known as health reform, has provisions that specify certain benefits that employers must offer to employees who are breastfeeding.
Employee Benefits Support Work-Life Balance
As traditional jobs with structured hours became less common, employers responded to their workers’ desire for workplace support of personal needs. Work-life benefit offerings pay off for employers by allowing employees to maximize their own productivity and effectiveness. Employers can use modern tools like employee scheduling to ensure the best possible work-life balance for employees.
Unique work-life benefits include:
- Concierge services, designed to operate in a similar fashion to a hotel concierge. Services can be offered virtually or in person.
- Work-life referral services, which operate as web-based or telephonic services that provide employees with instant answers to common questions or referrals to necessary services.
- Pet care discounts or pet insurance, to assist with the responsibilities for furry family members.
- Bulk purchasing membership, auto or computer purchasing discounts providing convenience as well as cost savings.
- Group homeowner’s or auto insurance, offering group-rate pricing on these products as well as one-stop shopping.
In addition to these benefits, some employers offer on-site personal care services, including hair and nail salons, dry cleaning, printing, shoe repair, and mailing services.
Interesting and Unique Employee Benefits Pay Off
Employers who offer interesting and unique benefits will have the edge in attracting and retaining staff. Many of these benefits are not expensive and pay off by demonstrating the employer’s commitment to caring for employees’ unique needs.