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Employee Benefits that Workers Value Highly

Employee benefits that today’s workers value highly may be a surprise to you. Are you aware of which employee benefits workers value the most?  Many employers do not fully understand what workers are looking for in the employee benefits package.  Unum conducted research within their firm to learn just that!  They discovered the top employee benefits that today’s workers value most. Employee Benefit News summarized the top employee benefits — that were not insurance or retirement benefits — workers covet most in this article.

Paid family leave was in the number one spot for most valued employee benefits — 58% said they prioritize this time off for new parents and caregivers. More employers than ever now offer paid parental leave. According to Employee Benefit News, “The percentage of employers offering paid maternity leave increased from 26% in 2016 to 35% in 2018 and paid paternity leave increased from 21% to 29% over the same period. Meanwhile, adoption (20% to 28%), foster child (13% to 21%) and surrogacy (6% to 12%) leave also increased in the last two years.” Dollar General, TD Bank and Unum are a few of the companies that have recently added parental leave to their employee benefits menus.

Flexible/remote work opportunities was the second of the most popular employee benefits. Fifty-five percent of workers said they valued the ability to work from home or work varying hours.  Employee benefits of this type have caught on in recent years. According to data from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), as cited by Employee Benefit News, 70% of employers now offer some type of telecommuting — either full- or part-time or on an ad hoc basis, up from 62% last year and 59% in 2014.

Professional development ranked number three on the list of top coveted employee benefits. More than a third (39%) of employees expressed a desire for professional development, which according to Unum, illustrates that employees want to “‘learn and grow in their careers.’” Moreover, employers who offer professional development as an employee benefit also reap the rewards with increased retention, easier succession planning and greater efficiency.

Nearly four in 10 (38%) of employees say they’d like extended time away from work to be a part of their employee benefits. However, only 5% of employers offer paid sabbaticals, according to SHRM. Facebook is among them — the company allows its employees to take 30 days paid time off every five years as part of its Recharge employee benefits program.

More than a third of employees (36%) desire a company-paid gym membership or access to an on-site fitness center. Access to employee benefits that allow workers to exercise is good for both employers and employees. Regular exercise can help improve overall health and chronic conditions, as well as employees’ moods and productivity.

For 35% of workers, student loan repayment assistance is a “must-have” employee benefit. It’s no wonder — more than 44 million Americans have outstanding student loan debt, and student debt in the U.S. totals $1.5 trillion. As such, growing numbers of employees are looking to employers to help them tackle their college debt. Estee Lauder, Pure Insurance and clothing retailer Carhartt are among the 4% of employers who offer their employees assistance or incentive to pay off their student loans, according to SHRM.

Other employee benefits that ranked top among the employees surveyed include:

  • Onsite healthy snacks
  • ID theft prevention
  • Financial planning resources
  • Fitness goal incentives
  • Public transit assistance
  • Pet insurance
  • Pet-friendly offices
  • Health coaching
  • Dedicated volunteer hours

Employers should view this list as an opportunity to evaluate their existing employee benefits offerings and determine if there are ways to enhance them by providing more of what workers truly want. Consider surveying your workforce and finding out if their employee benefits wish list mirrors the above, and what perks they value most. Employee benefits are a huge determining factor for prospective new hires when it comes to evaluating job offers. As such, employers who provide “outside the box” employee benefits that go beyond the traditional one-size-fits-all offerings will likely have an easier time recruiting and retaining talent — a must in today’s ultra-competitive hiring environment.

Steff Chalk

Steff Chalk

Managing Editor at 401kTV
Steff C. Chalk is Executive Director of The Retirement Advisor University, a collaboration with UCLA Anderson School of Management Executive Education. Steff also serves as Executive Director of The Plan Sponsor University and is current faculty of The Retirement Adviser University.
Steff Chalk
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