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As a benefits consultant, you want your client to offer successful benefits programs that attract and retain talent. But it can be difficult keeping up with the shifting trends in our industry. Demographics are changing, so what attracted talent ten years ago might not resonate with them now.
We’ve done the legwork and found some new types of benefits that could work for your employer clients. Let’s dive into some of benefit programs that are working for innovative employers and advisors.
Flexible Work Schedules
Ever since the passing of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, the 40-hour work week has become standard for the American Labor System. However, much has changed since 1938. We now have computers, email, web conferencing, etc. Technology has made it easier to work anywhere with a reliable internet connection. The 9-to-5 schedule is starting to feel like a thing of the past, and there’s data to prove it. According to The Atlantic, a 9-to-5 schedule is hard on creative and professional workers because they do their best work later in the day. And if we’re counting productivity, Business Insider suggests that the average employee is only productive 3 hours of their 8-hour workday. Flexible work schedules allow employees to do their best work on a schedule that enables them to be productive outside normal working hours. While this won’t work for some industries, other employers are embracing flexible schedules as a means of attracting talent.
Data can help, too. Using a paired cohort analysis, advisers could track the health, wellness, and absenteeism of those working flexible schedules compared to workers on a traditional schedule.
Companies like Netflix and LinkedIn are now offering unlimited PTO. Vacation is important for employees’ mental and physical health, but if an employer is worried about their employees taking advantage of their unlimited vacation, they can rest assured that employees on average still take the same number of vacation hours. So why offer unlimited hours? It shows employees that you can trust them and it encourages them to make doctor’s appointments without the repercussions of losing from their vacation hours.
Another argument in favor of unlimited PTO is that it prevents “presenteesim”—sick employees showing up for their shift and working through their illness or medical condition. The problem with “presenteesim” is that it impacts job performance and also spreads illness if the employee is contagious.
By offering unlimited PTO, employees would be encouraged to stay home until they are well enough to come back to work. This will help keep health costs down and create a healthy work environment.
As millennials are aging—the oldest millennial is turning 37 this year—their priorities are shifting. Older millennials are getting married and having children and most smart employers and benefits professionals are advocating for and creating generous leave policies that help new parents stay in the workforce. The New York Times writes that 83 percent of millennials would join a company offering generous maternity/paternity leave.
For employees struggling to conceive, offering fertility benefits can help attract talent. And using employee health data—like comparing maternity episodes and correlating them to costs and risk bins—can help justify fertility benefits. IVF is billed per implantation, so employees that do not have IVF covered in their health plans wind up implanting more than one embryo. They do this because it helps them save money and increases the chance of pregnancy. However, this can also result in multiple births and higher insurance claims. Adding IVF coverage could encourage employees to choose single implantations and reduce risk and subsequent costs.
Tuition Repayment Assistance
According to CNBC, the average American student graduates with a debt of $37,000. Because of such a high debt, younger millennials entering the workforce are struggling to keep focus at work due to the high amount of financial stress. Not only is stress hurting worker productivity, but it can have a negative effect on an employee’s health too.
To help combat this, employers and benefits consultants are advocating for programs that help new grads entering the workforce. Some companies offer an annual payment per year toward employees’ student loans. Others offer reimbursement for students taking classes relevant to their role at the company.
Student loan debt is not the only financial issue that stress employees. The average American family with a credit card balance has around $15,000 dollars in credit card debt. With more and more employees struggling to make their payments on time, Forbes reported earlier this year that 84% of the 141 large employers they surveyed now offer some sort of financial wellness programming. This is because financial stress not only contributes to healthcare costs, but it also leads to an increase in employee absences. By analyzing employee benefits data, not only can you advocate for adding new employee benefits like financial planning, but data can help measure the success of these programs and find what’s working for benefit advisers and their clients.
Offering traditional benefits like medical, dental and vision are still great ways to attract and retain great employees, but benefit advisers are helping their clients think outside the box. Suggesting these benefit programs to your clients will not only help retain talent and attract new faces, but it will also encourage wellness in their employee populations.