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How to Re-Examine Employee Benefits for a More Inclusive Workforce in 2022

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Employee benefits need to work for everyone. With this in mind, we've put together a guide to creating more comprehensive and useful employee benefits packages. With better benefits you can create a more inclusive workforce. 

A man with a sore back in an office setting - Image from Envato ElementsA man with a sore back in an office setting - Image from Envato ElementsA man with a sore back in an office setting - Image from Envato Elements
A man with a sore back in an office setting. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Finding a diverse team is getting more and more competitive in today’s workplace. In fact, a recent poll by Gallup shows that 48% of Americans are willing to quit their job

As such, it’s important to make your workplace more inclusive and attractive to potential employees. One of the best ways to do that is to re-examine the benefits you offer. Not only will this help attract more talent to your company, but it'll also ensure you remain competitive. 

But what are employee benefits and why do they matter? And what should your employee benefit packet include? Those are the questions we’ll answer in this guide. 

An Employee Benefits Definition (and Why It’s Important)

Employee benefits are benefits or perks provided to employees beyond their salaries and wages. Typically, they include worker’s compensation, paid time off for voting, jury duty, military duty, and more. 

Why Are Employee Benefits Important? 

Employee benefits are important for several reasons. For starters, they show that you're interested in the employee’s future and not just what they can do for you while they work in your company. This is a great way to foster employee loyalty. Learn more about employee loyalty in the following tutorial:

They also differentiate you from competitors, especially if you offer benefits that your competitor doesn’t. This can help you attract more employees. More importantly, it can help you keep those employees. This means you won’t have to go through the hiring process over and over again. Discover more ideas for attracting employees:

According to research from Glassdoor, employees are more interested in the benefits package than pay increases. Also, the Global Talent Trends 2020 report from LinkedIn shows that companies rated highly on compensation and benefits saw 56% lower attrition. The same report reveals that finding better compensation and benefits are one of the top three reasons why Millennials and Gen X would quit a job.

If that’s not enough to convince you how important benefits are, consider a recent Wellness Industry Report from SunTrust that states 43% of employers increased benefits to remain competitive in attracting and retaining talent. 

Another important thing to keep in mind when talking about benefits is that simply offering a general health insurance plan isn't enough. As workplaces become more inclusive and diverse, your benefits package should evolve accordingly. Read more about how to promote diversity below:

Otherwise, you risk alienating diverse talent that could contribute a wide variety of creative ideas to your workplace. But by making sure your benefits are more inclusive, you can avoid unnecessary legal fees and cut down on operations costs associated with discriminating policies.

Pair that with the above statistics and it’s easy to see why it’s important to offer a comprehensive benefits package to your employees.

An Updated Employee Benefit Plan for the Post-Covid Era

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Doctor and patient talking in a clinic - Image from Envato Elements

Now that you know what employee benefits are and why they're important, let’s take a look at what they typically include:

1. Traditional Employee Benefits

Traditional employee benefits may include: 

  • Paid time off where the employee still receives a salary even if you take time off for vacation or any other reason
  • Sick leave and vacation time that allow you to take time off from work due to illness or taking a vacation
  • Parental leave that allows you to take time off when you've got a child 
  • Pension plans that require an employer to make financial contributions to a pool of funds that are set aside for a worker's future benefit

Traditional employee benefits differ not only from one country to the next but can also differ from one state to the next. Let's take a look at benefits in several different countries:

United States Benefits

In the USA, required benefits include: 

  • time off to vote, serve on a jury and perform military service
  • comply with all workers’ compensation requirements
  • pay state and federal unemployment taxes
  • contribute to state short-term disability programs in states where such programs exist
  • comply with the Federal Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)

Australia Benefits

In Australia, mandatory benefits include retirement or ‘superannuation,’ and paid time off (also known as PTO) including:

  • holiday pay
  • long service leave
  • maternity/paternity leave
  • sick pay. 

United Kingdom Benefits

In the UK where mandatory employee benefits include:

  • retirement
  • healthcare
  • holiday pay
  • maternity/paternity pay
  • sick pay 

Canada Benefits

In Canada, mandatory employee benefits include:

  • pension
  • legislated and parental leaves
  • PTO
  • employment insurance
  • eye exams

With traditional benefits out of the way, it’s important to mention that recent events have led to several changes in benefits plans offered by many companies. Let’s take a look at those changes below. 

2. Mental Healthcare

The last few years have proven to be challenging in many aspects of our lives. A long battle with the ongoing pandemic and social distancing along with other tumultuous events have left a toll on our mental health. 

Many employees are eager to see mental health benefits that could include therapy sessions, access to counselors, and options for incorporating mindfulness into the workplace. For example, Google is known for offering mindfulness training to their employees.

3. Flexible Work Schedules

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Business scheduling (Image source: Envato Elements)

According to one survey from Harvard Business Review, more and more employers will start to offer flexible work schedules. This could include working entirely from home or working from home two days a week or opting for a compressed week as is offered by Cornell University.

4. Workplace Sanitation Practices and Telehealth

An image of using hand sanitizer from Envato ElementsAn image of using hand sanitizer from Envato ElementsAn image of using hand sanitizer from Envato Elements
An image of using hand sanitizer (Image source: Envato Elements)

Workplace sanitation practices and telehealth appointments were necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s looking like virtual care isn't going anywhere any time soon. Many employers have found virtual care works well for both them and their employees. They'll continue to offer it as part of their benefits package. For example, Cornell University includes not only telemedicine but also telecounselling for their employees.

5. Support for Working Remotely

A woman working remotely - Image from Envato Elements A woman working remotely - Image from Envato Elements A woman working remotely - Image from Envato Elements
A woman working remotely. (Image source: Envato Elements)

As many companies continue to offer the ability to work remotely, having support for remote workers in the benefits package is crucial. This could include options such as meal delivery, subsidized ergonomic office furniture or utility bills, stipends that cover childcare costs, and similar.

6. Unlimited PTO

According to SHRM, US employees rank paid time off as the second most important benefit after healthcare. Besides that, research suggests that offering paid time off is good for the company morale and productivity. As such, adding unlimited paid time off to your benefits plan could give you a significant competitive edge and help you attract more top talent. 

7. Full Employer-Paid Healthcare and Pet Insurance

As mentioned above, healthcare is the number one benefit employees are looking for nowadays. If your company can afford it, full employer-paid healthcare could go a long way towards giving your employees a peace of mind. And it shows them that you truly care about their wellbeing. 

Medical and pet insurance image from Envato ElementsMedical and pet insurance image from Envato ElementsMedical and pet insurance image from Envato Elements
Medical and pet insurance (Image source: Envato Elements)

Besides full healthcare coverage, employees are also interested in pet insurance coverage. While this isn't new, it’s been gaining in popularity after a surge in pet adoption during the pandemic lockdowns. T-Mobile is an example of a tech company offering pet insurance benefits.

8. Education Benefits

Educational benefits, like pet insurance, aren't a new thing. But they're gaining in popularity and many companies offer tuition aid or reimbursement for job-related training courses.

For example, Ford offers a Salaried Tuition Assistance Program for their employees of up to $6,000 annually per employee as well as extra funding to pay for the costs of MBA expenses to qualifying employees. 

Employee Benefits Examples From Top Corporations

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Here are a few examples of employee benefit plans as offered by the top corporations in the US as of January 2022: 

1. Apple Employee Benefits

Apple offers many flexible medical plans that cover both physical and mental healthcare. Plus, there's access to medical professionals and free confidential counseling. They also offer:

  • same pay for men and women
  • 401K matching
  • and an opportunity to become an Apple shareholder

On top of that, they also match your donations, offer employee discounts on their products, and paid time off whenever you need it.

2. Costco Employee Benefits

Costco WebsiteCostco WebsiteCostco Website
Costco Employees Page on Website

According to their website, Costco offers the most competitive rates in the industry to their workers. Their range of benefits includes affordable health care coverage for both full- and part-time employees, and contributions to company-sponsored retirement plans.

Their long-tenured hourly employees also get:

  • bonuses twice a year
  • competitive operational practices such as 50% full-time ratio
  • minimum scheduled hours guarantee
  • weekly schedules posted at least two weeks in advance

3. Amazon Employee Benefits

Amazon’s benefits include:

  • a starting hourly wage of at least $15/hr
  • opportunity to buy company shares
  • 401(k) plans with 50% company match
  • paid life and accident insurance

They also offer:

  • financial counseling
  • medical, prescription drug, dental, and vision coverage
  • paid time off
  • paid holidays
  • free access to a network of more than two million caregivers, including nannies, babysitters and special-needs caretakers 

4. Microsoft Employee Benefits

Microsoft Careers PageMicrosoft Careers PageMicrosoft Careers Page
Microsoft Careers Page

Microsoft offers a plethora of benefits for their employees. Some of them include:

  • a variety of healthcare options including a Health Savings Plan (HSA) and a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
  • on-campus healthcare access
  • support for employees and their families
  • 401(k) plan with a $0.50 match, stock purchase plan
  • 15 paid vacation days
  • 10 paid sick-leave days
  • 10 paid U.S. holidays
  • plus two personal days every year
  • flexible work schedules
  • and more

5. FedEx Employee Benefits

FedEx employee benefits package includes:

  • salary increase based on individual performance
  • tuition assistance
  • paid annual leave
  • wedding leave
  • maternity leave and paternity leave
  • medical and dental coverage
  • discounts on air tickets
  • pension funds

How to Improve Your Company’s Benefits Plan In 2022

Now that you know what kind of benefits your package should include, let’s talk about how you can examine your employee benefit plan and improve it. Here are five steps to take:

1. Familiarize Yourself With Local Laws

Learn Local LowLearn Local LowLearn Local Low
Make sure that you understand local employment laws. (Image source: Envato Elements)

One of the first things you should do is familiarize yourself with the local laws. Laws can change pretty frequently so the last thing you want is your benefits plan not being compliant with the law. 

Consulting your company lawyer or a legal team is a good place to start to understand the legal requirements for benefits. Once you know what you’re legally required to include, you can work on modifying your existing package. 

2. Survey Your Employees

The ideas we listed so far in this tutorial are a good place to start. But it’s always a better idea to talk to your employees and ask them what they’d like to see included in their benefits plan. 

There are a couple of ways to tackle this. One approach would be to talk to each employee or department manager. Or you could ask your employees to fill out a survey and even allow them to submit it anonymously.

3. Conduct Competitor Research

Competitor ResearchCompetitor ResearchCompetitor Research
Conduct research to make sure your company's benefits are competitive. (Image source: Envato Elements)

It’s also a good idea to conduct competitor research and see what kind of benefits they offer. By doing so, you can identify the gaps and create a competitive and more inclusive benefits package. 

4. Develop and Communicate the New Benefits Package to Your Employees

Once you've a list of benefits you want to include in your revised benefits plan, it’s time to put it all together. Be sure to develop your package in such a way that allows expanding or modifying without completely having to rewrite everything. 

You’ll then want to communicate the benefits to your employees and get their input. This part of the process is important if you want to get the buy-in from your employees. 

5. Devise a Plan to Regularly Examine and Evaluate the Benefits Plan 

As mentioned earlier, everything changes and evolves. This is true even for the workforce so it’s important to have a plan in place to regularly examine your benefits plan. 

Create an annual system for going over the benefits package and making necessary adjustments. Be sure to include your employees in the process. This will ensure that the benefits you offer are relevant to your employees and reflect their needs and wants. 

Make Your Workforce More Inclusive With Attractive Benefits Package

As times change, so does the need to remain relevant in today’s competitive workforce environment. Your benefits package should evolve as the needs of your employees change if you don’t want to fall behind your competitors. And if you want a truly inclusive workforce, your benefits should be first-class.

In this tutorial, we’ve shared many ideas for re-evaluating your benefits package. The only thing left to do now is to put the changes in place and create a revised benefits package for your employees. 

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