Employers Council keeps close tabs on the ever-evolving world of employee benefits. We track the trends as top talent’s needs shift and work hard to keep our members up-to-date—especially in today’s extremely tight labor market! As you’re building your employee value proposition—the complete range of what you’re offering to potential hirees—it’s important to know that job seekers are placing more value on things like employee assistance programs (56%), paid time off (52%) and mental health support services (51%).1
“Anything that an individual sees as a value can be a benefit,” says HR Services Manager Amber Cruz, PHR, CEBS, SHRM-CP. “Traditional benefits are just a small component of total rewards; employees are thinking of more things than just a medical plan.”
There are two emerging categories of employee benefits that organizations should be paying attention to in 2022: Benefits that offer true flexibility and holistic wellness.
“Employers think all candidates want remote work, but that’s not necessarily the case,” says Amber. “They want to be able to make decisions and have flexibility within their work environment.”
Some employees want to work remotely all the time. Some want a hybrid situation. Others just want to be able to leave in the middle of the day to go to their kids’ soccer matches or to flex their work hours to meet their circumstances.
“It’s about control,” says Amber, “over when and where their work gets done.”
Amber says they are seeing some employers explore more non-traditional options like “unlimited” PTO, although not all states have employment laws that align with that kind of open-ended policy. Others are looking at innovative schedules, including 4-day work weeks, four 10s or three 12s, or a 9/80 schedule (nine hours for nine days with every other Monday or Friday off).
“Communication is key here, whatever kind of flexibility you’re offering,” says Amber. “You have to be thoughtful and look into how it impacts your customers, your clients and your employers.”
Amber recommends putting very clear policies in place that outline the parameters for everything from remote work to unlimited paid-time-off (PTO). “Make sure you have clear guidelines for employees and managers,” she says.
“Even prior to the pandemic, there was a shift to exploring benefits beyond physical wellness,” says Amber, “Employees and employers are looking holistically at physical, mental, social and financial health.”
The pandemic pushed holistic wellness into the center of workplace conversations, as everyone was hit with trauma in both similar and different ways. “If employers hadn’t included mental health in their wellness benefits, they are now,” reports Amber.
Employee Assistance Programs for mental health support saw utilization rates rise in 2020, and many organizations are now using tech-enabled mental health offerings to help connect their employees to professional services.
In addition to the stress mental health puts on employees, organizations are also starting to acknowledge the many other aspects of life that make it hard to excel at work. Some companies are beginning to offer paid family leave, not only for both birthing and non-birthing parents, but for employees who are taking care of sick family members.
Financial stress also impacts employees’ professional lives. Some organizations are offering financial counseling in addition to mental health counseling. Others are beginning to explore ways to help with their employees’ student loans, from offering student loan grants to matching loan payments with 401K contributions.
More employers are also taking the value of rest seriously, with a range of benefits including regular sabbaticals, all-company vacations (where the entire organization shuts down for a period of time), or even offering cash rewards to employees who don’t check their work email or voice mail during their PTO.
Both flexibility and holistic wellness benefits are designed to attract and retain talent and help employees do their best work. “They cover all those aspects of life that affect our ability to function well,” Amber explains.
Need help crafting a new flexibility policy? Talk to a policy and handbook expert at Employers Council.
Want to know what benefits other organizations are offering? View our annual benefits and policies benchmark surveys.
Ready to learn more? Sign up for our next “Benefit Administration: The Basics from A to Z” viritual class.
- “The Hartford’s 2021 Future of Benefits Study Report,” thehartford.com. Accessed on 31 March 2022.