Employees work hard for more than just the money; they want to know what employers are bringing to the table. As the economy reopens and employees seek more employment opportunities to fit their lifestyle, employers will need to go beyond a “good” salary. If employers want to attract – and retain – the best talent, they’ll have to reassess the employee benefits they are currently offering. Wondering what type of benefits today’s employees look for? Here’s a list of the five most important benefits employers must offer to stay relevant.

Benefit #1: Full-Time Flexible Work

This may seem obvious, but in today’s economy, especially in a post-COVID world, many businesses in certain sectors have switched from employing full-time to part-time workers. For this current workforce, a guaranteed 40 hours a week is an enviable perk. If your goal is to hire and retain loyal, productive employees, providing the security of full-time work will make them more likely to stay.

In addition to full-time work, if feasible, you should provide employees with the option for remote or, at least, a hybrid work schedule depending on their personal circumstances. Some employees may be more hesitant than others to return to full-time in-person work due to the aftereffects of COVID-19, and understanding this concern will go a long way in increasing retention and productivity. If going fully remote isn’t a realistic option for your business, you should consider a scheduling plan in which employees come into the office in smaller “cohorts” so that they can get more comfortable before transitioning back into bigger groups.

Benefit #2: Low-Deductible Health Insurance

Until the “Medicare for All” plan proposed by many legislators and presidential candidates becomes a reality, health care costs will continue to be high. If you do not provide insurance at all, your best candidates will almost certainly choose an employer who does. If you do provide insurance, take a close look at what those plans cost your employees in real life. If you only offer and cover the premiums for high-deductible plans, that means your employees could end up paying thousands out of pocket for routine doctor visits and medications before their insurance pays a dime. This can increase the stress on your workforce and reduce productivity accordingly. Employers who pay the premiums for the better, low-deductible plans will be best-positioned to compete for the most qualified employees.

Benefit #3: Student Loan Repayment Assistance

If you employ an educated workforce, each successive generation will have more student debt than the one before it. Going forward, competitive employers will offer some form of student debt repayment assistance to attract and retain the best candidates. Companies including Fidelity have begun offering partnerships with employers to provide student loan repayment contribution programs. These programs are more forward-thinking than the tried-and-true 401k matching, because younger employees may see little reason to take part in a 401k plan if they still have much debt to repay. However, keep in mind that 401k plans are still a very desirable benefit to provide to your employees.

Benefit #4: Unlimited Paid Time Off

As one of the most important employee benefits that a company can provide, “paid time off” is important to retaining employees. Many companies have been going as far as offering unlimited paid time off (PTO) as an employee benefit. Unlimited PTO, or open vacation policy, essentially lets employees take as many days off as they choose to or need to. Since there is no “vacation limit”, it acts as a useful recruiting tool to attract job candidates, an easier way to retain top talent, and a great benefit to increase levels of employee morale and productivity. Flexible paid time off policies like these will allow employees to feel valued, thus fostering trust and loyalty in the workplace. However, keep in mind that to implement an unlimited PTO policy, you’ll need to carefully draft a legally compliant policy that outlines how employees should go about requesting paid time off and how the policy is fairly implemented across all employees. This is the best approach to protect yourself from potential liability for unpaid wage claims.

Benefit #5: Parental Leave

Under the California Family Rights Act, legislators have expanded family and medical leave for both employers and employees. Although in the past, most parental leave policies (if any) pertained only to maternal leave, now maternity leave has become almost standard, and the trend is toward employers adopting paternity leave or gender-neutral parental leave policies – which also provide the partners and/or spouses with parental leave benefits across the state of California. As an employer, providing a strong parental leave package that provides benefits to employees who give birth to a child, employees who adopt a child, as well as the partners or spouses of a woman who has given birth to a child shows that you support all personal lives, lifestyles, and decisions. In addition, according to the updated CFRA, partners/spouses can now take up to 12 weeks of parental leave within a year. To enhance the already enforced parental leave, employers can even offer paid time off for a few days during that leave. Ultimately, offering a gender-neutral parental leave package with added benefits will allow you to not only show that you are there for your employees, but also create a calmer and more productive workplace culture.

Employee Benefits: Key Takeaways

There have been many changes in routine and policies in the past year. More and more employees are looking for stability, security, and – most importantly – flexibility. To stay relevant and retain a loyal employee base in this economy, employers should reevaluate and reexamine the types of benefits they are currently offering.

Navigating employee benefits can be complex and difficult to do on your own so think about working with an employment attorney to create benefit packages that protect your business. If you need assistance with employee benefits or any other employment matter, please contact Hackler Flynn & Associates.

DISCLAIMER: Content within this post should not be considered legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Communications made through this post do not create an attorney-client relationship. Hackler Flynn & Associates is not responsible for any content that you may access from third-party resources that may be accessed through or linked to this post. Hackler Flynn & Associates is only licensed to practice in California.

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