When speaking of their work, people often say they’re there for the money – but today this is not entirely true. For more and more workers, additional benefits are not less significant than the income itself: extra paid time off, flexible work schedule, paid studies, and other perks.
The reason why employers tend to offer employees an increasingly wide variety of additional benefits is priorities and values of today’s workforce generation: Millennials, who’ll make up over 50% of the workforce by 2020, tend to have other priorities than just money and career opportunities.
It’s been said enough about how picky millennials are about jobs – pickier than any of the previous generations. Not only income and career perspectives matter: they value flexibility, healthy work-life balance, and professional development opportunities.
But “the millennial thing” is not the only reason: the practice of investing more in the workforce has proven to be beneficial for both employees and employers, regardless of demographics.
Research by Glassdoor shows that about 80% of employees prefer additional benefits over a pay raise – and this means that attracting and retaining top talent requires investing in such perks as time-off, health and wellbeing, and increased flexibility.
So, today’s trend is investing in the workforce and increasing employee retention literally at all costs, first of all in knowledge-based industries. Benefits offered by employers are much more essential than just free snacks, birthday gifts or pizza parties in the office. Let’s see at the newest trends in benefit programs.
1) Personalized benefits
Not everyone wants a benefits package that is offered by default. Some appreciate additional time off, and some would prefer financial bonuses instead. Realizing that, employers prepare personalized offers for prospective employees.
Bonuses and compensations, advanced flexibility options, and increased amounts of paid time off are the most frequent options. Anything based on personalized recognition works: the critical point is an appreciation of good work – and this depends on the personal preferences of each employee.
2) More focus on prevention and support
Employee assistance programs used in the past and still frequent today can be defined as reactionary measures to reduce the impact of personal and work-related issues. The same is true for insurance: it’s been targeted to solve problems that already are there. The recent trend is preventing issues, not solving them.
The practice of many companies shows that workplace well-being benefits, while increasing the company’s costs, actually help save money. Studies reveal the link between employee’s well-being and their productivity.
An increased amount of sick time off is not the only factor: decreased ability to concentrate, absenteeism, and presenteeism have a hugely disruptive effect on productivity and performance of individual employees and teams.
3) Benefits for part-time and gig workers
The number of people working a 40-hour week is decreasing. Part-time employees are increasingly treated like regular workforce – first of all, they receive benefits that earlier were typical for full-time employees. Bonuses, special prices, insurance, and even sometimes paid time off are the benefits that employers offer to retain part-time workers.
4) More flexibility
Another popular “millennial” requirement employers tend to include in their offerings: flexible work hours and non-pressuring daily routine. While there are industries where this benefit is not possible (think health care, law or education), this perk is turning into a regular part of the job offer in many knowledge-based fields.
The way this is implemented depends on the industry, position, and the nature of work performed by the employee: some offer flexibility as long as 40 hours are worked in a week (or any other number specified in the contract), others don’t count hours and arrival time as long as work is performed and deadlines are met.
Another essential part of flexible work time is the ability to work remotely. However, again, this works for jobs where physical presence in the workplace is not necessary for the successful performance of work responsibilities.
5) Paid sabbaticals
A sabbatical leave is an excellent opportunity for an employee to recover from burnout, learn something new, or travel. Sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? Or, for the majority of employers, more like a joke than something they’re ready to consider.
While positive effects of sabbaticals for employers and employees – flexibility, development of professional skills, increased motivation, and retention of a talented and highly skilled workforce – are proven by practice, for most companies, arranging a sabbatical is rarely viable because of barely affordable additional costs.
Employees who take sabbatical face challenges too: spending months without regular income is hardly possible without depleting savings.
So, today employees, first of all, talented and highly skilled, take things a step further and negotiate paid sabbaticals. In the Fortune 100 companies, arranging a paid sabbatical leave is real: about 25% of them offer this option. And while this practice is hardly feasible for small and medium businesses, this option is still worth considering – at least in the long-term perspective.
6) Unlimited PTO
Unlimited paid time-off is another perk that was hard to imagine until recently. Today, to attract and retain skilled and sought after employees, employers tend to offer this benefit. Having an unlimited amount of time-off means being able to maintain a healthy work-life balance – a highly valued aspect for today’s workforce.
There’s one more aspect of granting an unlimited paid time-off to the employees: trust on the team. Treating staff like adults and trusting them is the prerequisite for the implementation of this policy.
However, while it sounds like the unlimited PTO policy invites abuse and taking advantage of it without putting the job at risk, research data show that in some companies this policy encourages employees to take less time-off or even create competitions to take fewer days off.
7) More Family Time
Jobs consuming all the time have been an acute problem of all previous generations of workers. And even until today, people tend to complain how their jobs prevent them from spending time with their families. So, more employers who see the relationship between employees’ happiness and their productivity offer family leave as a separate leave type and allow additional time off for the child and elderly care.
One more today’s trend is paternity leave that is offered alongside with traditional maternity leaves: employers realize that anyone can be the breadwinner in the family and both parents need more time for childcare.
Family time policies largely depend on national and regional laws, but even in the countries without national parental leave policy, such as the US, employers include parental time-off in their vacation policies as an additional benefit and a way to increase employee satisfaction.
Seeing the link between employee happiness and their performance and adapting to the needs of today’s workforce generation, employers offer a wide variety of perks and personalize their benefits packages.
Compared to the previous decades, current benefits are more focused on work-life balance, professional development opportunities and flexibility rather than on pay raises and career perspectives.
In prosperous and thriving businesses that deal with attracting top talent, it sometimes comes to offerings that have been unthinkable until recently: think paid sabbatical leaves or unlimited PTO. And their practice shows that this approach retains the best workforce and helps businesses thrive.