If you employ full- or part-time staff, one of the most important things you'll need to consider is employee benefits and perks.
Did you know 60 percent of people report that benefits and perks are a major factor in considering whether to accept a job offer? The most common workplace benefits are those surrounding health, vacation time, parental leave and retirement plans.
Then there are the over-the-top perks that have become synonymous with companies like Google and Twitter, such as catered lunches, massages at the office and onsite improv classes. While these perks are enticing, they are not sustainable or affordable for all companies, especially midsize and smaller.
There's something to learn from these perks. As Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin brought up in their shareholder letter when taking Google public in 2004, their commitment to employee benefits was to "save employees considerable time and improve their health and productivity." By valuing and showing interest in ways to make their employees' lives easier in and out of the office, they are more likely to bring their entire selves to work.
Here are just some of the out-of-the-box perks that can set a company apart from its competitors.
Student loan assistance
With the student debt estimated to top $1.5 trillion (and growing), companies are seeking ways to provide their employees with some relief. Some companies allow employees to exchange accrued but unused paid time off (PTO) for payments against their student loans. Others set up a program to allow employees to contribute a certain percentage of their eligible pay toward their student loans through payroll deduction.
Family-friendly workplace policies
Paid parental leave is a hot topic these days. Less than 15 percent of civilian workers have access to the benefit, and varying coverage means caregivers are faced with conflicting personal and professional responsibilities, and as a result, many choose to exit the workforce. In fact, it is estimated that 5 million more people could enter the workforce if employers were to adopt family-friendly policies.
Take a look at the state of Vermont: Its workforce and population are aging, and the state has struggled to attract younger workers, which affects its local economy because of diminishing tax revenues and increasing costs. Its solution is to allow infants in the workplace. The policy launched Feb. 1, 2019 and allows state employees to bring their children, infants to 6 months, to work with them.
If you are worried about disruptions, you're not alone. The Department of Human Resources Deputy Commissioner Dan Pouliot helped create the program and was concerned too. He spoke to a few like-minded companies that had similar policies and found when babies started to smell, cry or be fussy, caregivers were quick to relocate to minimize the disruption.
Identity theft insurance
Everyday tasks such as picking up or dropping off dry cleaning, child care, and managing personal finances take time and energy. Life can take an employee's focus and energy away from work, which impacts a company's bottom line.
While corporations can't mitigate every life catastrophe, there are ways to help. Identity theft affected over 15 million people in the U.S. in 2016, costing more than $16 billion. Even more astounding, 30 to 50 percent of identity theft begins at the office. With insurance companies offering inexpensive group packages (costing a mere $2 per employee for Baird), identity theft protection is a growing trend. The benefit to corporations? Companies proactively safeguard themselves against potential data breaches and remove their liability for identity theft stemming from the office.
Financial wellness and advisement services
More than a third of employees said finances have been a distraction at work, and with 53 percent stressed about money, companies are losing productivity. With a rapidly changing workforce, studies show millennials are not feeling as financially secure as their Gen X or baby boomer counterparts.
Providing a retirement savings plan is a starting point, but, according to the same study, over half of all employees are looking to have someone validate their financial decisions. They want access to unbiased counselors to better understand and maximize their benefits. So design a financial wellness program that addresses the core concerns of your workforce, like retirement planning or brokerage account management of employer given stock options, student loan refinancing, or mortgage rate assistance. It could save your company $2,000 per employee if they are in good financial health.