The New Pension: How Businesses Are Retaining Employees for the Long-Term / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Times are changing, but what does this mean for our pension plans? Can employee perks and benefits keep employees feeling healthy and happy?

Benefits matter to employees. A 2014 GlassDoor survey ranked Google as the No. 1 employer in terms of pay and benefits, which run the gamut from haircuts to food and even nap pods.

Even if such perks are beyond the reach of many employers, there are still plenty of options to increase employee satisfaction while still benefitting employers. In order to retain your hard-working employees for the long term, how are companies replacing antiquated pension plans in order to provide value? 

How Employment Perks Replace Pensions

Pensions are disappearing, although they once held billions in excess dollars. The reasons for their demise vary, but according to Kiplinger, some common ones include:

  • Workers move around too much to benefit from traditional pensions
  • Employers cannot compete with rivals (foreign and domestic) with no pension costs
  • Several years of volatile stock activity and record low interest rates

People now live longer lives, with an average lifespan of almost 79 years; but they’re also retiring later, with the average retirement age now at 62, according to Gallup. Keeping employees satisfied and healthy is much more valuable for companies these days.

Related Article: Awesome Employee Perks You've Never Heard Of

Health Matters

Employees want exceptional health insurance coverage that includes medical, dental, prescription, eye care, and more. Some companies, such as Adobe, even offer pet insurance. In addition to great insurance coverage, having sufficient sick leave time counts, as does adequate vacation time, which everyone knows is vital to maintaining sanity.

Keeping Employees Fit

Gym memberships not only keep employees in shape, they provide the opportunity to burn off stress, giving many a clearer mind when they come to work following an exercise session. However, fitness and health in the workplace go far beyond weekly or daily workouts.

Employees appreciate health screenings, on-site health care opportunities, pharmacy services, and employee assistance programs. Provide the right mix of health care and fitness programs to increase your employees’ wellbeing, which ultimately results in lower losses due to absence from illnesses.

Advancing Education

A Spherion study conducted in 2008 demonstrated that even then, education benefits were a powerful draw for employees, with about 61 percent of surveyed individuals who received training or mentoring stating they would likely stay with their employer for at least five years.

Nevertheless, many companies fear that providing an education to employees will make them want to move on to other, bigger and better opportunities elsewhere. Good companies retain good employees, and education benefits not only improve the capabilities of employees, but also improve their job skills. With the plus the benefits of the tax deductions that businesses can take advantage of, helping employees further their education is a plus.


Flexible work hours and work from home provisions are no longer the oddities they once were, as technology makes both feasible. Providing the option to work different schedules as well as work remotely makes the lives of many individuals easier, less stressful (no morning commute traffic!) and more productive.

Flexible hours and remote work can be a powerful draw to highly qualified job prospects who need the added incentive of working from home in their PJs to make them sign on with a company. Obviously, allowing for work flexibility requires a modicum of trust in the employee; but it also means shifting work expectations away from hours put in to focusing on achieving goals and deadlines.

Related Article: Saving for Retirement 40 Years Out: The Increasing Trend

Making the Golden Years Possible

No matter how great a business is, employees eventually retire. However, saving enough money for retirement has become difficult for many, and decreases in employer contributions to retirement funds makes it even tougher.

Defined contribution plans have come to the forefront of retirement planning. Popular defined contribution plans include the 401(k) plan, IRAs, employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), and profit sharing plans. Most involve contributions from both the employee and the employer, often through employer matching of contributions and require “vesting” in the plan, with no benefits paid out until the person works for the business for a set amount of time.

Unfortunately, businesses often cut costs during hard financial times by decreasing contributions to 401(k) plans and other retirement accounts. A business that continually matches contributions dollar for dollar, however, is beloved by employees. They recognize this as a true sign that their work and their welfare are valued, now and or the future.

Although for most people, salary ranks as their highest concern, work perks are not far behind. No employer can provide all desired benefits to every employee, but implementing a few of the more popular ones may help keep valued employees on the job; and feeling healthy, happy and appreciated.

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