With slowing growth and inflation cutting into their profits, companies are taking action. Apart from obvious moves like layoffs and hiring freezes, some organizations are also cutting back on employee benefits. For example, according to SHRM’s 2022 Employee Benefits Survey, companies offering paid maternity leave (apart from what is legally required) decreased to 35% from 53% in 2020. But is that the best strategy? With people quitting at record levels and remote work becoming more widespread, workers have more options than ever. That’s why companies must offer competitive employee benefits to attract and retain the best candidates.
Recently, global HR and payroll company, Remote, interviewed 10,000 full-time workers in the U.S. and Europe to better understand which employee benefits are most valued. Here’s a look at the top ten:
1. Flexible work hours
Not surprisingly, flexible work hours are the number one request from remote workers. In fact, according to a survey from Future Forum, 95% of respondents care more about flexible hours than remote work. And in a report by Adobe, 84% of enterprise employees would like at least some flexibility, in contrast to only 16% who said they would prefer a set schedule.
2. Company-sponsored retirement plan or pension
Retirement plans help to attract and retain workers. Another appealing perk is offering retirement planning assistance from financial professionals. In Morgan Stanley at Work’s second annual State of the Workplace Financial Benefits Study, 93% of employees consider retirement planning assistance a priority when choosing where to work. Given inflation and economic uncertainty, it’s not a surprise that workers are more conscious about their financial health.
3. Leave early on Fridays
The concept of allowing employees to leave early on Friday isn’t new. In fact, this benefit is often extended in the summer (known as “summer Fridays”), with more than half of North American organizations offering it, according to Gartner. These perks allow organizations to gain a competitive edge when attracting and retaining top talent.
4. Four-day work week
A 2022 Qualtrics survey found that 92% of respondents favor working a four-day work week. In addition, 72% said they’d prefer a four-day week even if it meant working longer hours on the days they did work. Even more interesting is that the largest multinational four-day workweek experiment is almost complete in the UK. According to Claire Daniels, CEO at Trio Media, one of the 70 companies participating in the pilot, “The four-day week trial so far has been extremely successful for us,” she said. “Productivity has remained high, with an increase in wellness for the team, along with our business performing 44% better financially.”
5. Family health insurance
With open enrollment season underway in the U.S., health insurance is top of mind. Not only can family health insurance be a valuable recruiting tool, but it can also increase retention and boost employee satisfaction.
6. Private health insurance
Private health insurance is coverage provided by a private firm rather than the government. While many countries have universal healthcare systems in place, there may still be advantages to private health insurance in terms of reduced waiting times or access to special facilities.
7. Healthcare cost reimbursements
Sometimes called healthcare reimbursement accounts, healthcare cost reimbursements are group health plans from which workers are reimbursed tax-free for eligible medical expenses up to a fixed yearly dollar amount. Unused funds may be rolled over to be used in subsequent years.
8. Paid self-care days or time off for mental health
The pandemic pushed mental health and burnout into the spotlight. As a result, nearly 23% of workers say their employer has introduced new mental health services, according to a recent Harris Poll survey. And over one-third of employees say their companies have always offered some kind of mental health support.
9. Miscarriage leave
Miscarriage occurs in about 10% to 20% of known pregnancies, according to Mayo Clinic. While it is relatively common, no national laws in the US mandate specific protections for people dealing with this traumatic physical and emotional experience. Rather than describing these laws as a “perk” or “benefit,” miscarriage leave should be considered a must-have for women in the workforce.
10. Private dental insurance
Not only are dental benefits good for the employee, but they also benefit the employer. Without regular dental care, the likelihood of developing significant health issues increases significantly. As a result, employees are more likely to miss work resulting in a loss of productivity. In fact, one report revealed that an average of 320 million work or school hours were lost annually for dental care in the U.S., of which 92 million were for emergencies.
An obvious course of action in an economic downturn is to reduce costs. But while slashing employee benefits may provide short-term financial gains, it may result in negative long-term results like lower morale, a disengaged workforce and higher turnover. Is that really a smart move when it is estimated that by 2030, the global talent crunch could exceed 85 million people, resulting in the loss of trillions of dollars in economic opportunity for companies? Probably not.