Comprehensive employee benefit plans are a key component of any organization's recruitment and retention strategy. These benefits programs generally involve a mix of indirect and direct compensation beyond the base salary offered to employees as part of their total rewards and benefits package.

An effective employee benefits program goes beyond the primary medical, dental, and disability benefits required in many states. While things like health plans and disability insurance are important, employees now want, and need, more than the basic benefit offerings. Jobseekers now look for companies offering clinical, emotional, and financial support, including certain benefits to help current employees start and raise their families. 

Organizations are recognizing the importance of these fringe benefits (those not required by state law) and recommitting to supporting parents and parents-to-be. A recent Maven report found that 37% of employers offer fertility and family-building support coverage and 62% offer virtual family care. More employers are also extending their programs by offering benefits such as remote work, flexible schedules, extended parental leave, and other perks to attract and retain the best talent whilst improving employee morale and well being.

Here's what HR leaders need to know about building an employee benefits plan that meets the needs of all employees in today's modern world.

Why are employee benefit programs important?

Aside from salary, employee benefits are the most crucial factor when candidates are considering employment offers or weighing whether to leave their current company. This includes benefits for the employee and their family. 

They aid talent acquisition efforts

Maven's State of Family Health Benefits report found that 36% of employees have left or considered leaving a job because of inadequate family and fertility benefits. Simply put, providing the basic medical, dental and retirement package isn't enough. 

With Gen Z entering the workplace, the demand for better employee benefits will continue to increase. In a U.S. Employee Benefit Trends report, 57% of Gen Z employees surveyed said they would be “more successful at a company that offered progressive benefits.” Millennials feel the same: one study found that 65% of millennials who resigned would have stayed at their former employer if they had a more robust 401(k) plan.

Combined, millennials and Gen Z comprise almost half the workforce, with this population growing each year. A competitive benefits plan is a valuable tool when trying to recruit younger employees and a diverse mix of generations.

They're key in helping to retain employees

Attracting great talent is one hurdle, but retaining them requires a long-term investment in your employee benefits package. And the type of employee benefits offered will need to evolve with your workforce. For example, less than a decade ago, it was very rare for companies to offer financial assistance for egg freezing, but in recent years, almost one-fifth (19%) of large employers covered the procedure.

They contribute to a more inclusive and diverse workforce

These benefits aren't just a way to improve employee retention; they can also help foster an inclusive workplace. For example, employees with physical disabilities may find it easier to work remotely. LGBTQIA+ employees who want to start or grow their families may request financial resources that cover the cost of fertility treatments, adoption, or surrogacy.

Support for a diverse workforce is another key factor candidates consider when job-hunting: one study found that 47% of millennials actively look for diversity & inclusion in potential employers. 

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Types of employment benefits

There are federal and state-mandated benefits organizations must provide their employees in the U.S., and these mandates can depend on the company size and industry.

At the most basic level, most employers must provide full-time employees with statutory benefits including Social Security and Medicare, workers' compensation and unemployment insurance, disability insurance, retirement plans, and Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) protections.

On top of this, many organizations voluntarily provide additional supplement benefits to help meet the needs of their employees such as fertility benefits, tuition assistance, and life insurance. These aren't mandatory but are an effective way to retain employees, boost productivity, and provide further financial security aside from an employee's wages.

The most popular employee benefits offered by organizations commonly fall into the below categories.

Health and wellness benefits

Health benefits are one of the main components of an employee benefits package. Ensuring you have comprehensive and accessible benefits are vital to employee satisfaction and have a measurable impact on productivity, motivation and a company's bottom line.

  • Health insurance: Subsidized medical insurance for employees and their families can significantly reduce the financial burden for care by covering medical expenses, supporting healthier employees overall.
  • Eye and dental insurance: As with medical insurance, this lessens the financial burden on employees and can lead to better health outcomes for your employees.
  • Wellness programs: This catchall category can cover a wide array of benefits. Some of these may include programs for smoking cessation, gym memberships, mental health support, employee assistance programs, and stress management. Wellness benefits support an employee's whole health above and beyond basic medical care, and dental, eye and health insurance, often with a focus on work life balance, mental health and overall well being.
  • Disability: Employees have basic disability protections through Social Security, but organizations may provide extended offerings such as short term disability insurance or life insurance benefits. 

Retirement benefits and financial planning

The financial side of an employee benefits package is as important as health and wellness. Helping your employees save and plan for their financial future is another way to show your willingness to make long-term investments in your employees and care about their future. 

Financial and retirement benefits may look different for each organization, but the most common pension plan is the 401(k) program, which has favorable tax benefits. Eligible employees can invest wages into a fund without paying taxes, whilst employer contributions can be added to the employee's account.

Other types of pension plans are available as well as company stock options which are a desirable employee benefit.

Many companies also offer life insurance plans whereby an employee's family and dependents would receive financial security should the employee die during employment.

Bonuses and commissions

Certain employee benefits, such as health insurance, are usually indirect, meaning they do not include monetary compensation. However, two additional benefits are directly tied to compensation: Bonuses and commissions.

Commissions can be focused on an individual sales or recruitment target, while bonuses generally tend to be based on the entire organization's health. These are great motivators for top-performing employees. 

Paid time off 

Paid time off, or PTO, may be one of the most important components of your employee benefits package. 

  • PTO looks different at every organization. You may have a general bucket for sick time and personal leave, or offer unlimited PTO. Holidays, including federal and state holidays, can also impact your PTO policy.
  • Paid parental leave, such as maternity or paternity leave, is another type of PTO, but should fall outside of the company's standard PTO policy. 

Reproductive and family health benefits

Family health benefits are integral for many organizations, with nearly two-thirds of employers planning to increase their family benefits investment in the next two to three years. These benefits can include:

  • Virtual, on-demand access to women's and family health specialists like OB-GYNs or doulas to fill gaps in traditional, in-person healthcare. 
  • Access to online classes, clinically-vetted content, and peer communities to teach employees how to advocate for themselves during their reproductive health journey.
  • The option to financially support employees' family health needs, including fertility treatments, fees associated with adoption and surrogacy, egg freezing costs, and more.

A particular benefit to consider is menopause supportAccording to a recent report, nearly 20% of people experiencing menopause have resigned from their job or considered leaving due to their symptoms. Additional paid time off, virtual access to medical professionals, menopause education, or even a dedicated wellness space can help employees navigate this period in their lives.

Other personalized benefits and perks

There are many types of employee benefits and workplace perks that employers can choose from when it comes to selecting their benefits plan. These include:

  • Benefits for those with pets including food discounts, 24/7 vet appointments, walking and care services, and pet insurance plans.
  • Work life balance benefits such as remote working, a flexible work schedule, and job sharing.
  • Salary sacrifice programs and commuter benefits such as subsidized public transport and cycle to work schemes.
  • Educational benefits that improve the employee's skills and career opportunities such as mentorship programs and enhanced training, or tuition reimbursement to help cover the cost of a course taken during employment.

How to create an exceptional employee benefits program 

No two benefit programs are the same. Aside from costs, things like industry, organization size, location, and general company culture will all impact which benefits you offer to your employees. When presenting and weighing options, ensure all stakeholders have the right information and you've done the groundwork to make the best decision. 

Identify organizational needs

Why do you need to offer these benefits? Zero in on your prime objective for creating or updating your organization's employee benefits offerings. Perhaps you've noticed a downward trend in retention, or your industry is evolving and you want to keep up with the trends. Identify what your organization needs to accomplish and delineate between the “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.”

Understand employees' needs and preferences

Every employee won't have the same needs, but taking the time to determine any specific trends can help the decision-making process. Are more employees asking for family-building support? Or perhaps you've noticed an upward trend in employees wanting to work remotely. Understanding what your employees value and prefer is necessary as you develop a personalized benefits package.

When all else fails–ask them. Employee feedback is a critical component of providing effective, personalized employee benefits. Anonymously surveying your employees empowers them to give honest and helpful feedback. You may learn that a current benefit isn't serving the majority of the population or that you have a gap you need to fill.

Research & select the right benefits

There are many benefit providers, and the choices can be overwhelming. Once you understand your employees' needs, organizational needs and other factors, use a checklist that makes it easy to evaluate each vendor. This will save you both time and money in the long run.

Evaluate cost-effectiveness

One crucial step in this process is evaluating the cost-effectiveness of the benefits you plan to offer for your organization's short- and long-term financial health. One path you can take is utilizing a comprehensive benefits solution, like Maven, which minimizes the number of vendors you have to manage and  supports employees' family journeys end-to-end. This approach saves time and money while eliminating gaps in care.

Communicate the benefits program to employees

The most logical time to communicate the employee benefits program to employees is during open enrollment, but if you are adding benefits, it may be helpful to set up additional touchpoints. Those could look like benefit office hours where you answer employee questions or informational sessions. 

Evaluate the effectiveness of your employee benefits offerings

Once you have established your employee benefits program, you will need to review and evaluate the effectiveness of the program regularly. You should do this for several reasons: to ensure your employees are satisfied, to confirm that employees use the benefits, and track the results of your programs. There are a few evaluation methods:

  • Survey employees: Asking employees is often the best way to determine what's working for them. An annual or semi-annual survey allows you to review responses and make necessary program changes.
  • Focus groups: Live feedback gathered through focus groups can also be helpful, as they allow time for conversation and more in-depth, qualitative feedback.
  • Measure engagement: What good is a benefit if nobody uses it? Regularly evaluating how much employees use their benefits can help manage costs and gauge employee satisfaction.
  • Track health outcomes: Another way you can measure the effectiveness of your benefits is by looking at the health outcomes for your employee population as a whole. Your benefits vendors can help you measure and track outcomes data while staying compliant with local and federal data privacy laws. 

How Maven can help you develop an effective employee benefits package

Creating an effective employee benefits program can be daunting, but you don't have to do it alone. Maven, the leading women's and family healthcare company, can be a valuable partner for your employees' family needs.

We offer an integrated platform that provides clinical, emotional, and financial support all in one place. Your employees deserve care that is compassionate, knowledgeable, and accessible during some of the most vulnerable times in their lives, and Maven is here to help.

From fertility and family building support to maternity, parenting and menopause, we provide a suite of benefits that support your employees to navigate multiple stages of life whilst thriving in their career.

Find out more about offering benefits with Maven can help support and enhance your company's employee benefits program and request a demo today.

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