While mass layoffs—particularly in tech—may be dominating the headlines, there’s still a labor shortage. Recent data shows that there are only 5.7 million unemployed workers and over 10 million job openings. So if you’re struggling to attract and retain talent, you’re not alone. One way to stand out as an employer of choice is to offer the employee benefits your workforce—and beyond—wants.
In fact, employee benefits may go further than wages. According to one study, four in five employees prefer benefits or perks to a pay raise.
The benefits that are important to one employee might not matter to another. But, there are several popular benefits that stand the test of time—and some that are trending in 2023.
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Employee benefits to offer in 2023
Employee benefits, like healthcare coverage and paid time off, are a staple in many workplaces big and small. But, which benefits do workers want the most?
Keep in mind that benefit preferences may depend on employee age and personal circumstances (e.g., if they have children). Consider offering a wide array of benefits to meet your diverse team’s needs.
Without further ado, here are seven employee benefits to add to your employee benefits package.
1. Mandatory employee benefits
OK, so offering mandatory employee benefits may not make you stand out. But, it’ll keep your business compliant with federal and state regulations.
There are several mandatory employee benefits you may need to offer—depending on your business size and location.
The following are just some mandatory employee benefits you may have to provide:
- Healthcare under the Affordable Care Act: Do employers have to offer health insurance? Applicable large employers (aka businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees) are penalized if they don’t provide health insurance.
- Family and Medical Leave Act: Employers with 50 or more employees must provide 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave each year for qualifying reasons (e.g., parental leave).
- Paid family leave: Several states, including California and Oregon, require employers to provide paid leave so employees can bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill family member, and more.
- Paid sick leave: Several states, like Arizona and Colorado, have paid sick leave laws that require employers to give employees time off for qualifying reasons.
- State-mandated retirement programs: Think offering retirement plans is a choice? It’s not—for businesses in certain states, like California and Connecticut. State-mandated retirement plans require employers to enroll employees in a state-sponsored program or offer a qualifying plan alternative.
Brush up on federal requirements and your state’s rules. Some upcoming mandates, like Colorado’s state-mandated retirement program, have 2023 deadlines employers need to follow.
2. Affordable and expansive healthcare
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 70% of private industry workers had access to healthcare benefits in March 2022.
Do yours? And if your employees already have access to healthcare benefits, how good are they?
One way to make your workplace and job descriptions stand out is by beefing up your healthcare plans.
When it comes to healthcare options, here are a few things to consider:
- Affordable premiums for low-deductible healthcare
- Telemedicine options
- Behavioral/mental healthcare
You may also consider adding wellness programs to help your team avoid illnesses and boost their health.
3. Retirement plans
Retirement plans have long been part of many—but not all—employers’ benefits packages. And lately, the government has been shining a spotlight on the importance of retirement savings.
Thanks to the SECURE Act 2.0, retirement benefits are trending. SECURE Act 2.0 aims to improve retirement savings for workers by encouraging employers to offer plans.
Qualifying employers can now enjoy increased 401(k) tax credits that cover administrative and contribution costs. There’s also a student loan payment match coming in 2024 (i.e., employers can make matching retirement contributions for qualified student loan payments employees make).
4. Family-related benefits
Family matters. That’s why popular employee benefits include time off and financial support for family-related events and situations.
Family-related benefits you can offer include:
- Paid family leave
- Adoption assistance
- Fertility treatment coverage
- Time off for pregnancy loss
- Dependent care assistance (e.g., employer-provided childcare and eldercare)
5. Extra paid time off
Burnout—a state of exhaustion, detachment, and declining efficiency—is rampant. In the U.S., more than two in five workers say they’re burnt out, thanks in part to higher stress and a lack of flexible work.
Apply those same statistics to your workplace, and you’ll find that 40% of your team might also be suffering from burnout. You may not be able to manage their stress for them, but you can offer benefits that can help …
… Starting with a little extra paid time off. Paid time off (PTO) gives employees time away from work while earning their regular wages. Employees can use paid time off for personal reasons or vacation.
According to the BLS, full-time employees receive an average of 10 days of paid vacation days after one year of service. Want to set your business apart? Consider providing more paid time off than the average. You may also decide to increase an employee’s available paid time off depending on how long they’ve worked for your business.
6. Flexible and hybrid work arrangements
Work-life balance matters to workers. One way to strike a balance between work and life is to offer flexible work arrangements and hybrid work.
Flexible work arrangements: Flexible work arrangements give employees control over their schedules, including when they start and stop work, how many hours they work per day, and how many days they work. This type of benefit lets employees work around doctor’s appointments, family commitments, and other obligations during the typical 9-to-5 workday. Flexible work arrangements may also make things easier for employees in different time zones.
Hybrid work: COVID-19 changed the game when it came to remote work. Now, working remotely is a benefit 68% of Americans want. And although remote-only work isn’t accessible to everyone, hybrid work arrangements might be. Under a hybrid schedule, an employee can work some days in the office and some days from home.
7. Education assistance
Looking for an employee benefit that’s attractive to employees and your business’s bottom line? Consider education, or tuition, assistance.
Education assistance is when an employer pays for part or all of an employee’s education expenses. This type of benefit increases employee loyalty and retention. Not to mention, your employees’ increased skillset can also improve your business operations.
Employer-provided educational assistance covers expenses like tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment. And, you can exclude up to $5,250 from the employee’s taxable income.
You can also make tax-free student loan payments (up to the IRS limit) for your employees, thanks to the CARES Act. As of March 2022, only 4% of private industry workers had access to this type of benefit.
Not sure what your team wants? Just ask!
At the end of the day, the best source of what your employees want is your team. So if you want to know how to make your job description stand out, ask your workforce what benefits they want the most.
Conduct an internal employee benefits survey. Employees can take this type of satisfaction survey and provide feedback on current benefits—as well as future ones.
Keep the surveys short and simple. Your surveys can be made up of one or more of the following types of questions:
- Likert Scale: Respondents choose an answer, generally from a 5-point scale, to show how much they agree with a statement (e.g., Very satisfied, satisfied, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, dissatisfied, very dissatisfied)
- Example: Using a scale of 1-5, with 5 being very satisfied and 1 being very dissatisfied, how would you rank the following benefits? (E.g., paid time off, health insurance, etc.)
- Ranking questions: Respondents list answers based on their preferences
- Example: On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, rank how important each benefit is.
- Multiple choice: Respondents choose one or multiple options from a list
- Example: Are you currently enrolled in our healthcare plan?
- Free text: Respondents write their own answers
- Example: Are there any benefits you’d like to see offered that are not currently available?
After your employees complete the surveys, analyze the results. You may need to make changes to benefits, like modifying current benefits or adding new ones.