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Top Non-medical Benefits to Bolster Employers' Plans

August 12, 2022

Written by Bob Love for BenefitsPro as originally published...

Now that the country is facing a labor shortage and employees are in high demand, advisors and employers can differentiate themselves, attracting employees by offering comprehensive benefits packages that enable employees to place their well-being at the forefront of their careers.

The Great Resignation has severely tightened the labor market, giving many employees the upper hand in terms of negotiating benefits. Potential employees are becoming increasingly vocal about what they want from their employers in terms of benefits and culture; thus, employers who are struggling to attract workers can, and often must, differentiate their businesses by offering enticing benefits packages and cultures that better meet the needs of their employees.

The importance of non-medical benefits

A mid-2021 survey conducted by LIMRA and EY predicts that non-medical workplace benefits will grow 20% by 2026. As executives work with benefits advisors to revise their company benefits packages in the months preceding the ACA’s open enrollment period, which begins on Nov. 1st, they should consider expanding their benefits packages to include non-medical offerings.  Employees are placing a heightened value on benefits: The same study noted that one-third of all employees value company benefits now more than they did at the beginning of the pandemic.

Variables such as work environments and employee schedules are becoming increasingly important to employees. This new shift in employee preferences is caused by the uncertainty and chaos that have been prevalent throughout the workforce since the pandemic began. To combat these challenges, employees were met with new challenges around adaptability and flexibility in nearly every aspect of their jobs. Now, as the country shifts into a post-pandemic work culture, employees are seeking those same traits, as they have seen firsthand that it is possible to balance both productivity and flexibility within a career. Now that the country is facing a labor shortage and employees are in high demand, businesses can differentiate themselves, attracting employees by offering comprehensive benefits packages that enable employees to place their well-being at the forefront of their careers.

A willingness to offer these benefits demonstrates a company’s ability to lead with empathy, a quality that has become increasingly important in the workplace. Companies that have empathy at the top of their leadership models are able to demonstrate how they are invested in the wellbeing of their employees and will thus see higher employee retention and productivity rates. By providing employees with the mental health benefits, flexible scheduling, and hybrid work models that they both want and need, companies can successfully convey that they view their employees as human beings, not just faceless numbers. There is every reason to believe that this empathy will be met and returned throughout the workplace.

Types of benefits to include

Employees seek benefits that will improve their work environments, work-life balances, and mental health; therefore, non-medical benefit offerings should be considered that include the following items:

Preferred work environment and flexible scheduling

By offering the choice between a remote and in-person environment, companies will notice an increase in productivity because their employees will be able to work in surroundings that allow them to thoroughly complete tasks to the best of their own ability. The choice of work environment and the provision of office space stipends will help employees create an ideal work environment by establishing a permanent home office or purchasing a membership for a coworking space. Companies should also offer schedules that allow for flex-time or compressed workweeks, as studies show that employees with flexible schedules exhibit greater job satisfaction because they are able to control their schedules and work when they’re the most productive. Flexible schedules also give employees leeway in the case of an emergency, for they can easily take time off and make up their work later without feeling stressed or burdened.

Student debt benefits

With student debt rates at an all-time high, younger workforce members are facing copious amounts of student debt at alarmingly large interest rates. Student debt repayment options, such as direct payment programs or 401(k) plan contributions, are enticing to new workforce entrants, for they can quickly pay off their student loans through the help of their employers.

Mental health benefits

The American Psychiatric Association reports that employees with unresolved depression experience a 35% drop in productivity. Companies can combat this loss in productivity by offering mental health benefits such as free counseling and therapy sessions, subscriptions to digital mental health resources, and access to wellness coaches. Additionally, by providing these services, companies can further convey to their employees that they have empathy towards them.

Income protection

The pandemic has demonstrated how quickly an unexpected illness can develop into long-term conditions that impact one’s ability to do his job. Therefore, life and disability insurance are top of mind for many people, and people seek jobs that provide a way to cover expenses in the event of an unexpected disability.

Career development and educational assistance

The implementation of career development benefits, such as training and workshops, can help employees focus on growth within the company. Additionally, tuition assistance and employer-sponsored scholarships help employees further their education and become more qualified in their fields. These benefits are particularly enticing to employees seeking a master’s degree or additional certificates.

Non-medical benefits packages will reduce lost work hours among employees and improve their self-care. By leading with empathy and offering benefits that prioritize employee well-being, companies and the benefits advisors they work with can boost morale, retention rates, and productivity, are important elements in creating a successful company and a positive workplace culture.

Robert C. Love is the President, Benefits Division at BenefitMall, the nation’s largest general agency partnering with a network of 20,000 brokers to deliver employee benefits to more than 140,000 small to medium-sized businesses in the U.S.