Employee Benefits

15 Common Employee Perks and Benefits Explained

August 02, 2022

Understanding the core benefits and perks that your company offers its employees makes it infinitely easier to explain the total compensation you are providing to potential new hires. Likewise, any adjustments to your benefits and perks can be articulated to existing employees to ensure transparency and candid communication. Naturally, before you choose a benefits and perks plan or modify an existing one, you should consider soliciting feedback from your current staff to determine their preferences and priorities, especially as many workplaces continue to reorient from fully remote to hybrid work configurations. 

Although you want to offer the most comprehensive and attractive plan possible, it’s also important to avoid investments in any superfluous programming or benefits that may be a lower priority to your employees. Our recent article on “Build[ing] an Employee Benefits Program that Won't Break the Bank,” is an excellent resource to help you explore this topic and allocate your benefits budget thoughtfully and tactically.

Perhaps most importantly, as you review the range of benefits and perks your organization can adopt, remember that your benefits and perks should align with your company values. If you regularly emphasize employee wellness and work-life balance, for instance, your employees can fairly expect programming and resources to provide robust support in that area. The same holds true as it relates to other offerings – from family and medical leave to remote, hybrid, or flexible work configurations.

To help you navigate this process, we’ve created a comprehensive profile of the 15 most common employee benefits and perks. This will grant you insights into the range of features employees most frequently consider, particularly as they adjust to post-pandemic realignments in their future or current workplace.

Health Insurance

This is the core benefit to your employees and typically the one that elicits the most questions, requests, and special considerations. From an employee perspective, this is justified; many employees review plans that will affect coverage for their dependents (children or partner), primary care providers (whether they can “retain” their current one or need to choose a new one), and any existing medical conditions or medications that require reasonable coverage. Health insurance typically covers prescription medications, doctor visits, emergency room trips, and, in the event of injury or a long-term diagnosis, disability insurance also enters the equation. Be sure to review a range of health insurance plans to determine whether premiums are fully or partially coverable (by you, the employer) and whether out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, and co-pays are tenable for you and your employees.

Dental & Vision

Most dental plans cover routine exams, x-rays, cleanings, and some portion of surgeries and procedures (fillings, root canals, crowns, etc.). Some employers opt to exclude dental insurance from their employee benefits package while offering it at a reduced rate from the health insurance provider. Generally speaking, though, many companies offer dental insurance as a major feature of their benefits package due to its lower cost (relative to health insurance) and employee expectations.

Vision insurance usually covers eye exams and prescription lenses (contacts, glasses, etc.). Like dental insurance, vision insurance is a relatively affordable cost to absorb for most companies.

Disability

Disability insurance provides compensation when an employee is unable to work due to a non-job-related illness or injury. Generally speaking, regardless of the policy type, disability insurance covers approximately 60% of an employee’s standard salary or annual earnings.

Approaches vary when it comes to disability insurance. Among companies who adopt it as a consistent benefit, some fully pay for the costs, while many others require employees to pay a portion of the overall costs through paycheck deduction. Keep in mind that you have the option of providing long-term disability insurance, which lasts anywhere from several years to retirement age depending on the plan, or short-term disability insurance, which covers out-of-work employees for under six months. 

Life Insurance

Although less common than the other forms of health insurance we’ve already covered, life insurance can be a worthwhile feature to include in your benefits package, especially as a benefit to employees’ families. Like disability insurance, some companies offer to pay for a reasonable portion of a life insurance policy if an employee provides the remaining amount through paycheck deduction or other means. Other employers offer life insurance policies equivalent to an employee’s yearly salary. 

Family and Medical Leave

With benefits that can affect employees’ families in mind, if you are a company with more than 50 employees, you are legally obligated under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, if an employee’s health condition prevents them from performing their work, or if an employee’s family member has a medical condition that requires care. FMLA was enacted to protect employees’ job security and benefits during such leave, namely those who have worked for a company for 12 months or more.

Bear in mind that many smaller companies still opt to offer family and medical leave to their employees regardless of their technical exemption from FMLA.

Parental Leave 

New research from SHRM confirms that over 55% of employers provide paid maternity leave, while 45% provide paid paternity leave, and 35% offer paid extended family care leave. Among the wide number of companies surveyed, most described this benefit as an investment in attracting new employees, retaining current ones, and demonstrating a commitment to employee health and wellness.

Parental leave grants employees the opportunity to be absent from work when a child requires parental care (by birth, adoption, foster placement, or otherwise). Providing parental leave (paid or unpaid) is more or less at the discretion of each employer, but companies are increasingly adopting these benefits in the interests of attracting new talent and showing existing employees their investment in the personal and familial wellbeing of their staff.

Child Care Assistance

Particularly during the COVID pandemic, companies have adapted and enhanced their benefits and perks related to child care support for employees’ families. Some have responded by offering benefits as varied as “backup childcare,” access to nanny/babysitting services, tutoring services, and more. Some have even extended their benefits to provide services for older children (college counseling services) and the elderly.

Regardless of which specific child care assistance benefits you choose to offer within your own company, know that the EPCCC (Employer-Provided Child Care Credit) grants employers a tax credit of up to 10% of qualified child care referral and resource expenditures and 25% of all qualified child care expenditures. This credit covers up to $150,000 of employer expenditures (based on the rates outlined above).

PTO (Paid Time Off)

Paid time off (PTO) is an ever-evolving category of employee benefits. Although many companies have traditionally based PTO on how long an employee has worked for their organization (accruing more over longer periods of time), the landscape is changing. Some companies still designate distinct PTO days for vacation, sick, or personal days, while others have simplified the process by offering one consolidated bundle of PTO days, which can be used at the employee’s discretion (on national holidays, family trips, for mental health days, or otherwise). Remember to review the laws in your state regarding PTO, as you may (or may not) have certain obligations that are necessary to fulfill in other states.

Retirement, 401(k), and Student Loan Relief

Retirement is another area where innovation and reinvention have occurred among employer benefit programs. 401(k) plans remain the norm, where employees contribute a pre-tax paycheck deduction (often alongside an employer percentage match) and pay taxes on the accumulated fund when they retire. Even so, many other companies are formulating unique alternatives or supplements to a 401(k)-driven retirement plan. As just one example, some companies now assist employees with student loan debt by either paying the employee’s lender(s) directly or by offering to increase employer 401(k) contributions until the employee’s student loan debt has been fully paid. Many companies consider these new strategies an oblique employee engagement and health & wellness initiative that is just as valuable as other benefits: incentivizing company loyalty and demonstrating an organizational commitment to lessening the stressors in employees’ personal lives.

Flexible Spending Account

Usually considered a supplement to traditional health insurance, a flexible spending account or FSA, permits employees to pay for yearly out-of-pocket healthcare expenses (copays, OTC medications, vision insurance costs, specialized tests, or medical equipment) by placing pre-tax money aside for that express purpose. 

As an employer, you can offer up to $500 yearly to an employee’s FSA, while employees are entitled to make contributions of nearly $3,000 per year. Some companies opt to match employee contributions dollar-for-dollar, but this can be a valuable perk regardless of the level of employer participation.

Remote Work & Flexible Scheduling

Even as many employers transition from fully remote work to a hybrid (including hybrid-at-will) model, the discussions about sustaining remote work options are here to stay. Recent research shows that employees report improvements of 75 to 88% in the areas of job satisfaction, work-life balance, and physical health when working under a fully remote or hybrid (partially remote) work configuration. 

As we mentioned earlier, for companies punctuating their commitment to work-life balance or the health of their employees, this data should make it clear why some degree of remote work, flexible scheduling and/or a hybrid-at-will policy is worth considering. Flexible scheduling, which allows employees to work during hours that suit them (including unconventional or varying ones) has actually been shown to improve productivity in some cases. So, talk with your employees, consider their feedback and adapt a work configuration that merges your company’s goals with the stated needs of your staff.

Wellness Programs

An increasing number of companies offer wellness programs with a diverse set of programming and resources, ranging from physical health benefits (gym memberships and home gym “stipends”), mental health benefits (meditation courses and telehealth options), and even financial wellness benefits like debt counseling, retirement planning, and more. For companies enacting new wellness programs or refining existing ones, it’s an exciting process to solicit feedback from employees regarding the wellness and work-life balance initiatives they’d most like to see. From there, you can implement a strategy that is likely to raise productivity, improve company-wide cohesion/camaraderie, and lessen chronic stressors in your employees’ lives.

Mentorship Programs & Career Advancement Resources

Mentorship programs are particularly valuable for new employees or those seeking career advancement opportunities. These programs help employees (and mentors) learn about their departments, optimize their project-based work, and practice leadership principles in a more nuanced and immersive way. It’s another excellent way to invest in team-building practices and reward meaningful collaboration. Your company should also consider ways to help your employees pay for university coursework or complete a degree in a new (job-related) field. Scheduling (or covering the costs of attending) lectures, trainings, certification courses, etc. can be another indispensable investment in skills and career development for your employees.

Diversity Equity & Inclusion Programs

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, which can in some cases be merged with mentorship programs, encourage the participation of marginalized groups, including people of color, people with disabilities, women, and the LBGTQ community. In addition to targeted recruitment, many employers now offer and organize employee resource groups to provide support, career development opportunities, and personal development resources to underrepresented groups within their workplace.

Relocation Benefits

Relocation benefits are an apparently minor perk that can nevertheless mean the difference between a talented prospect committing or passing on your offer of employment. Many companies offer to cover some or all of the costs of a new hire’s relocation, especially if their position requires a regular in-office (or even hybrid) work configuration. It’s also a way of communicating to your future employee that you are committed to alleviating and assisting with some of the hurdles they’ll face while making a significant career transition.

Moving Forward with a Benefits & Perks Strategy

Now that we’ve comprehensively reviewed the full “suite” of benefits and perks that companies are offering in today’s job hiring climate, you might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of inviting feedback from employees, singling out the benefits you’d like to adopt, and implementing the plan that works best for your company

We’re here to help you make this process stress-free and embrace an opportunity to creatively invest in your employees’ wellbeing and improve company culture without breaking the bank.

Our goal is to work closely with you to identify benefit plans that fit your organization’s unique profile while ensuring that they integrate seamlessly with the rest of your Payday services. We offer holistic and cost-effective benefits solutions that can be adapted to meet the needs of your company and all of its staff. Contact us today and let’s get started on your benefits strategy.

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