Employers generally don’t provide for altruistic reasons. Benefits help organizations attract and retain good employees. They send a message about how the organization values those employees and what the organization’s own values are. They can differentiate organizations from competitors. Unusual ones, such as free travel, can even create a little buzz.

There are also certain core company benefits that current and prospective employees expect. Some are the traditional benefits many organizations have offered for decades, while others (such as remote work) were rare until recently.

The following must-have and nice-to-have company benefits are worth considering.

Meeting the Bare Minimum

While expectations of company benefits will vary across industries, one expectation is universal: amid the ongoing and changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees value health insurance. Recent studies show that 55% of full-time employees say that health insurance is the most important benefit they receive and that a quality health insurance plan is key to job satisfaction. That includes prescription drug coverage, dental insurance, and vision insurance. Paid sick days can also be considered part of that.

Despite the emergence of the healthcare marketplace, employees still look to their employer as the first and most cost-effective choice for medical insurance.

One related, relatively inexpensive benefit that employees appreciate is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). These accounts allow employees to contribute pre-tax dollars to help pay for out-of-pocket medical, transportation, or dependent-care expenses. Employer costs can be minimal, usually administrative fees (unless the employer contributes to the account). Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are a similar alternative.

The final must-have, or very close to must-have, benefit is a retirement plan, generally a 401(k) for most organizations. Employers can, within limits, choose whether or not to contribute and how much.

A Make-or-Break for Some

One benefit that was on very few people’s lists until relatively recently—but has become more important than ever—is remote work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 11.1% of workers were fully remote in December 2021. While that may not seem like a large number, it accounts for 17.3 million workers in the U.S.

The job boards reflect this shift, with 9% of job postings on Indeed being for remote positions. Businesses such as Slack, Salesforce, and Microsoft allow employees to work remotely. That’s because 97% of employees, as Forbes reports, don’t want to return to the office full-time.

According to an Owl Labs study, 16% of U.S. companies are now fully remote.

Allowing employees to work remotely full-time or with a hybrid model—where employees spend some time working remotely—will keep employees happy. By eliminating commute times, transit and gas costs, and allowing employees to live where they want, they’ll be more productive and dedicated to their work.

While remote work is a perk, employers shouldn’t forget to offer additional employee benefits to teleworkers. When employees work from home, they often use their own internet connection and cell phone for work purposes. Sometimes, employees can’t afford to subscribe to a faster internet bandwidth to increase productivity. Employers shouldn’t shift all of their office costs, such as internet and telephones, to remote employees without providing a stipend to offset those costs.

In some states, such as California, companies may even be required to reimburse these expenses.

Benefits with the Highest ROI

When it comes to the bottom line, the following benefits often provide the highest return on investment.

Retirement Investing
Having a financially stable future and life after retirement is a top priority for many people. Companies that offer financial investing and retirement options can stand apart from their competitors when it comes to finding and attracting top talent. Offering an employer match incentive provides an additional boost.

Mental Health Benefits
Mental health benefits can be just as important as physical health benefits. Not only can having mental health benefits change the lives of employees, but it also emphasizes that the organization cares about and supports them. Offering this incentive will lead to healthier employees, higher retention, and greater employee engagement.

Health Insurance
Employer-sponsored health plans can help encourage applicants to join—and stay at—an organization, which can lower recruitment and turnover costs. Offering a health plan can also help reduce medical claim volumes and increase employee engagement.

Tuition Reimbursement
Providing employees with helpful skills to aid them in their career path will assist with attracting entry-level talent and increase the number of job applicants. In addition, employees will be more engaged if they feel they are given opportunities to advance to a better position in the future. Tuition reimbursement encourages employees to stay with the organization and provides them with the skills and education to help the company succeed.

The key to providing benefits that employees appreciate is communication: not just about the nuts and bolts of each benefit and deadlines and other key information, but also how to make the best use of them.

The Lindenberger Group can help organizations in all industries design and manage company benefits programs that help drive the mission and boost retention, recruitment, and engagement. For more information or to discuss your HR needs, please contact us at 609-730-1049 or send us an email.