Benefits have been part of the American workplace for decades. To baby boomers, Gen Xers, and the oldest millennials, traditional benefits have been enough. Traditional benefits have included health insurance, a 401(k) plan, and perhaps dental and vision coverage. Younger workers may not be content to stop there. In fact, they are more likely to expect non-traditional benefits as well.
Non-traditional benefits could be anything that goes beyond health insurance on a retirement plan. And make no mistake about it, the options in 2023 are virtually limitless. If an employer can think of a benefit to offer, a way can be found to offer it.
How do non-traditional benefits help employers? Perhaps we should count the ways:
1. They Help With Recruiting and Retention
For starters, non-traditional benefits help with recruiting and retention. Given two jobs that are equal in just about every way but the benefits, a candidate is likely to prefer the position with better benefits. Offering non-traditional options allows a company to expand its benefit package to appeal to the largest number of employees. That is attractive to candidates.
2. They Can Increase Productivity
Certain types of non-traditional benefits can increase productivity. For example, it is no longer unusual for a company with a self-funded health plan to offer a range of primary care benefits on-site. Offering primary care at the workplace reduces the need for workers to take the extra time needed to commute to and from medical appointments.
StarMed Benefits, a Las Vegas company that has a penalty calculator tool, says that the whole point of self-funding is to reduce costs and improve flexibility. Offering on-site primary care does both.
3. They Can Boost Employee Loyalty
Non-traditional benefits can boost loyalty among employees who view their benefit packages as evidence that their employers care about them as people. Based on what we already know about the Great Resignation, boosting loyalty is probably a priority for most employers.
A good benefit to illustrate this point is a mental health benefit. Employers can offer mental health benefits in many forms including on-site counseling, off-site access to mental health professionals, and even mental health crisis training – similar to first aid training.
4. They Can Increase Earning Power
Some non-traditional benefits can actually boost employee earning power. A good option for illustrating this point is student debt reduction assistance. With students now graduating from college with tens of thousands of dollars in debt and very few prospects for paying it off quickly, employers realize they can help with debt reduction benefits.
Every dollar an employer contributes to student debt reduction means one less dollar the employee needs to put toward it. It is one more dollar that can go to food, housing, or other expenses. Without any increase in salary, a debt reduction benefit increases an employee’s take-home pay, thereby increasing earning power.
5. They Can Meet Unique Needs
There are all sorts of non-traditional benefits capable of meeting unique needs that not every member of the workforce necessarily has. A basket of voluntary benefits offers employees more flexibility. They can pick and choose from that basket to customize their packages to their needs. It is an opportunity very few employees would pass up.
We have seen employee benefits evolve over the years. They have evolved to the point where traditional benefits alone are no longer cutting it. Employers are having to look to non-traditional benefits to compete in a tight labor market. Along the way, they are boosting employee loyalty, increasing productivity, and adding flexibility and customization. Both they and their employees are reaping the benefits.