A comprehensive employee benefits program is a key component of any organization’s recruitment and retention strategy. These benefits programs generally involve a mix of indirect & direct compensation beyond the base salary offered to employees as part of their total rewards package. An effective employee benefits program goes beyond the primary medical, dental and disability benefits required in many states. Top talent looks for companies offering clinical, emotional, and financial support, including benefits to help employees start and raise their families.
Organizations are recognizing the importance of these benefits 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 to include benefits such as remote work, flexible schedules, and other perks to attract and retain the best talent.
Here’s what HR leaders need to know about building an employee benefits plan that meets the needs of all employees.
Why is an employee benefits program 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. Maven’s State of Family Health Benefits report found that 36% of employees have left or considered leaving a job because of inadequate family benefits. Simply put, providing the basic medical, dental and retirement package isn’t enough.
With Gen Z entering the workplace, the demand for better benefits will continue to increase. In a U.S. Employee Benefit Trends report, 57% of Gen Zers 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 the best talent from these generations.
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.
These benefits aren’t just a way to retain talent; 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.
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 Social Security and Medicare, unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance, and Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) protections. Many organizations voluntarily provide additional benefits to help meet the needs of their employees.
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.
- Health insurance: Subsidized medical insurance for employees and their families can significantly reduce the financial burden for care, supporting healthier employees overall.
- Dental and eye insurance: As with medical insurance, this lessens the financial burden on employees and can lead to better health outcomes for your employees.
- Wellness: This catchall category can cover a wide array of benefits. Some of these may include programs for smoking cessation, mental health support, and stress management. Wellness benefits support whole health and wellness above and beyond basic medical, dental, and eye insurance.
- Disability: Employees have basic disability protections through Social Security, but organizations may provide extended benefits such as short- and long-term disability insurance or life insurance.
Retirement 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.
Retirement and financial benefits may look different for each organization, but the most common are 401k programs, which have favorable tax benefits, pensions plans, and company stock options.
Bonuses and commissions
Employee benefits 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 program.
- 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.
Another benefit to consider is menopause support. According 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.
How to create an exceptional employee benefits program
No two programs are the same. Aside from costs, things like industry, organization size and 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 program. 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.”
- Identify employees' needs and preferences: Every employee won’t be the same, 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 benefits package. When all else fails–ask them. 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 program.
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 program
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.
To find out how Maven can help support and enhance your company’s employee benefits, request a demo today.
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