10 Voluntary Benefits You Need to Offer Before Your Competitors Do
Attracting and retaining the best employees is partly about creating an incredible company culture and partly about compensating people competitively for the work they do, and there's much more to that than salary alone. It's about incorporating new voluntary benefits into your employees' compensation package that improve their financial health, reduce stress, or promote work-life balance.
Today's options for benefits go far beyond a 401k and health insurance. Most of them are easy to incorporate; some of them don't cost the company anything, as all you are doing is creating the group that allows your employees to get a lower rate—as with health insurance or legal services—which is held out of their paycheck every month.
Here are just a few of the voluntary benefits you should offer now—before your competitors do.
Financial Planning Advice
What are your employees doing with the money they earn? Less than 30 percent of Americans are considered "financially healthy" and among millennials, only about 24 percent "...demonstrate basic financial literacy" even though the majority of them believe they're actually very good with money, which can make the problem worse.
There's a need for financial education and guidance when it comes to budgeting, saving, eliminating debt, managing your credit score, and investing. Offer classes and personal financial assistance to help your employees get on track; incentive programs can encourage them to save some money from every paycheck.
Financial stress can lead to low morale, low productivity, and personal problems for your employees at home, not only regarding how they pay their bills but how they relate to their families. Giving your employees the opportunity to learn how to manage their money helps them take control of their lives.
Student Loan Repayment
The average student loan balance for millennials as of 2017 was over $10,000, and about 20 percent of all borrowers are behind on payments. That monthly payment is a huge burden for many young workers. Many of them may have been expecting to land a higher-paying job; for others, the interest may be adding up faster than they had calculated. For most of them, other bills also demand their attention, creating a delicate balancing act when it comes to paying it all. Considering that a large number of Americans are only $400 away from financial hardship, getting help with a $200 or $300 (or more) loan payment every month can make a huge difference in their lives.
Traditional health insurance is one thing, but supplemental policies to cover accidents, disabilities, and more can go a long way in covering what would otherwise be out-of-pocket expenses. This may especially appeal to parents or soon-to-be parents who need to include children on their policies.
For those with four-legged fur babies, consider offering pet insurance. Owning a pet is more expensive than many people realize when they adopt their dog or cat; that's especially true when the pets suffers an illness or injury. Vet bills add up quickly, and pet owners agonize over scraping the money together, because the alternative—letting the animal suffer or losing the beloved pet—is unacceptable. Pet insurance eases this worry and saves your employee from this potential financial and emotional strain.
Many Americans are caring for an aging relative who can no longer manage to live alone. Becoming a caregiver to a loved one can be emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially stressful, and caregiver burnout can have devastating effects on the caregiver's relationships, personal life, and career. Your employees who are feeling overworked or underappreciated as caregivers may start to withdraw, get irritable, lose motivation, or fall ill.
Caregiving assistance can allow your employee to hire someone on a full- or part-time basis to ease the load and rest assured the loved one is in good hands. This also reduces the stress or guilt your employees might have felt if they weren't sure they were being effective as caregivers.
Adoption Assistance and Childcare
As people look to adopt a child, they're often shocked at the cost of doing so. Many turn to online crowdfunding sites to help them pull the money together to adopt their son or daughter. Adoption assistance benefits can do this for them, or at least take care of a portion of it. As an employer, you'll find that not many employees will call upon this particular benefit, making it especially affordable for you to offer—but for those who do need it, it will be appreciated.
For those with children already, childcare costs can skyrocket, particularly if they have more than one child. After-school care or daycare can cost over $200 per week per child. On-site daycare or a daycare allowance benefit can greatly reduce this particular financial burden on your employees.
Fitness and Wellness
This goes beyond offering a gym membership. Make it as easy as possible for employees to participate in your wellness program, and encourage participation at all levels of management. Your employees will be more excited about it if they see support for the program throughout your organization.
On-site yoga classes and massage therapists, access to alternative therapies like acupuncture or chiropractic care, incentives for participating in fitness or weight loss challenges (with the professional guidance that will help them be successful in those challenges), quit smoking programs, and more can help you create a culture of wellness in the workplace while giving everyone access to the education and information they need.
The result? Happier, healthier employees who have the tools to combat stress, save money on health care costs, and feel their best while they're at work and at home.
Identity Theft Protection
In 2018, there were 1.4 million fraud reports. Identity theft was one of the most common claims, along with scams and debt collection. ID theft can be emotionally as well as financially devastating, and many people aren't sure what to do after their identity has been stolen.
The benefits can include protection against ID theft as well as help in recovering from ID theft. Teach employees how to protect their information, how to identify common scams and tactics used by the thieves to access that information, and how to tell if their identity has been stolen.
Most people will need a lawyer at some point, whether it's to protect themselves in a lawsuit, manage a divorce or custody dispute, or create a will. Legal benefits give your employees access to an attorney at a more affordable price point. There are typically several options your employees can choose from, much like having a variety of healthcare plans to choose from. When your employees need legal help, they know where to find it—and they won't have to weigh the risks of financial trouble against the risk of failing to get legal advice—which could turn out to be financially devastating, as well.
This could be tuition reimbursement if they pursue an advanced degree related to their role in your company. You could also make an allowance for conferences, personal development retreats, and even books to help your employees become better at what they do.
More education for your team makes the entire company stronger, but even those who are really interested in earning new certifications, licenses, or degrees may be held back at the thought of how they're going to pay for them. Tuition reimbursement and other educational and career advancement opportunities allow you to benefit directly from their education, and it fosters trust and loyalty between you and your team.
Earned Wage Access
This gives employees access to some of the money they will earn by the next paycheck. This is helpful if pay day falls after rent is due, for example. For those living paycheck to paycheck with little room for error, giving them early access to their own wages can relieve the stress of making ends meet until they can get ahead.
This can be especially helpful for hourly employees, who may not see the same numbers on their paycheck every time it comes around. Holidays, shift changes, and more can leave them with a lower-than-normal paycheck. Getting part of the next paycheck early can help them pay bills when the current paycheck falls unexpectedly short due to those schedule changes.
Learn more about earned wage access and how it can help your employees. Branch is an app that gives your employees more control over their money and their lives by allowing them to use the money they'll earn in the next paycheck when they need it most: right now. It also gives them the opportunity to manage their work schedule right from their mobile devices, easily picking up extra shifts or finding coverage when they need to miss work. You'll get real-time updates that help you keep track of who is working when and who is taking advantage of the benefits. It's a simple way to meet your employees where they are and give them a little more financial peace of mind.