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4 Recent Trends in Benefits You Should Know About

When it comes to “comp-munication,” if you’re not talking about benefits, you’re not having the full compensation conversation. I had the opportunity to discuss benefits with a number of attendees at Compference 2017, and in the process, learned of some new trends that are worth sharing.

Here are four things to know about benefits right now:

1. Benefits Are No Longer a Nice-to-Have

Gone are the days when offering partially paid medical insurance gave companies a competitive edge. In 2017, fully employer-paid medical, dental and vision insurance coverage is essentially the standard — 76 percent of organizations in this year’s Compensation Best Practices Report said they offer it.

The current wave in benefits is family coverage — who’s covering what dependents, and for how much, was a hot topic.

What does this mean? Insurance coverage is no longer a differentiator. Time to start talking about something else.

2. The “Wrong” Benefits Won’t Get Used

Additional benefits like flexible work time, yoga classes and pet insurance were discussed and met with a round of commentary on how under-utilized some of these non-traditional benefits are.

Talk to or poll employees on the types of benefits they will find valuable before you invest. Get a small group together to take a pulse on what people are asking for and then measure the impact.

Tip: Involve the folks that give the most feedback about benefits in that group.

3. Cash Is Extrinsic; Benefits Are Intrinsic

Benefits are difficult to talk about because they’re not always easy to see. You can absolutely feel it, however, when they’re utilized and well-received.

Benjamin Franklin said going to bed and getting up early makes us “healthy, wealthy and wise” — but I’d say certain employee benefits can have those results, which end up being a boon to employers:

Healthy employees feel empowered by their employer to take care of their health. Benefits like insurance, wellness programs and work environments that are flexible enough have a walking meeting or take a long lunch to go the dentist all amount to employees who are energized and “firing on all cylinders.”

Wealthy employees feel fairly compensated in comparison to their peers and the market, as well as informed about opportunities for salary growth. Benefits like career-pathing and “total rewards” that include variable pay and incentive programs go a long way in helping employees feel like they can have an impact on that desired salary growth.

Wise employees are constantly growing. Learning and development programs that include everything from “lunch and learns” to mentor coaching drive engagement. This benefit is often understated. Development programs and learning opportunities big and small create employees that want to stick around!

Chat with managers about how to talk to employees about the opportunities in these areas at your company.

4. We Need to Stop Talking About Benefits As if They’re Add-Ons

It’s been commonplace to talk about benefits as the cherry on the sundae, but in some cases, benefits are costing employers nearly as much per employee as base salary. That’s a HUGE investment to “throw away” at the end of a new hire orientation or in a hidden company intranet page.

Make the benefits conversation part of your pay brand. Talk to your employees about the benefits you offer, why you offer them and the dollar value of those benefits as part of their total compensation.

Tip: This could take the form of total compensation reports, annual benefits statements or a session at a company wide meeting.

When it comes to benefits and compensation, the math might be hard but the conversation can be easy.

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What benefit trends are you seeing? We want to hear from you. Share your observation in the comments.

Image: Arnold Exconde/Unsplash

Rita Patterson
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