Voluntary benefits are an important part of a company's compensation package and proposed rewards for its workforce. Over and above salary and bonuses, benefits can make a significant contribution to a worker's job satisfaction, and in some cases their bottom line. At the same time, today's most popular voluntary benefits can help workers strengthen their financial position, and strike a workable work/life balance. According to a recent survey published by the Harvard Business Review, here are five of the most popular categories of voluntary benefits that companies can offer – and why your company should consider investing in them:
Dental, health, and vision insurance: Healthcare is expensive, and having access to health, dental, and vision insurance can help make it easier for employees to remain healthy. It can also eliminate some of the psychological and financial stress associated with managing chronic conditions or an unexpected illness. Access to healthcare providers in an insurance network is one criteria; it is also smart to look at quality of coverage and how much premiums cost. Access to health-related insurance can help reduce absenteeism by minimizing illness or ensuring fast, effective treatment for problems when they arise.
Flexible hours and telecommuting options: Schedules are another hot button issue with today's busy workforce. Thanks to technology, it often feels as though we are always connected and workers may be expected to be available nights, weekends, and even during vacations. As a result, today's talent is looking for schedule options such as flexible hours and telecommuting arrangements that eliminate lengthy commutes and allow them to get as much done as possible during working hours. Flexible hours and telecommuting options may also make it easier for workers to balance family, health, and other personal responsibilities without compromising their performance.
More vacation or unlimited vacation: Long weeks and constant connectivity can leave your workers feeling drained. As a result, time away from the office to recharge their batteries is essential. Companies that go beyond the standard two weeks of paid vacation are attractive to candidates, and offer a valuable voluntary benefit that can help increase retention. Businesses can offer more paid time off or even evaluate whether an unlimited PTO policy is viable for their business.
Student loan assistance and tuition assistance: With increasingly high costs associated with education, many employees are seeking benefits that can help alleviate the burden. Requests come in two forms. One is to help to reduce student loan totals, so workers can get to debt-free status faster. With tuition assistance, it's possible to pursue additional education without taking out expensive loans. Investing in this area can help alleviate critical pressure associated with ballooning student loan payments, while encouraging your staff to continue expanding their educational horizons.
Parental leave and daycare services: Another category of benefits that ranked near the top was parental leave and daycare services. As workers have children, they're interested in workplaces that are family-friendly and think about benefits that enable them to spend more time with their kids, as well as meet the expenses associated with being a parent. A funded parental leave program* for new parents can help employees transition to this next phase of their lives, and daycare assistance helps ensure that kids have access to the best care possible while their parents are at work.
The right voluntary benefits can help your company attract top quality candidates, with a generous package sometimes trumping salary offers that are higher. The most popular voluntary benefits help candidates to maintain a better quality of life, address urgent financial priorities such as student loans and surging daycare costs, and provide flexibility so employees can manage their lives outside of the office. Investing in these areas can boost employee morale and engagement, help attract top talent, and increase employee retention.
*Paid or unpaid parental leave may be required by applicable federal, state, or local law. It is best to speak to your legal advisors regarding the laws of your jurisdiction.