How To Boost Recruiting And Retention Efforts With Employee Benefits
What employee benefits should employers consider for boosting their recruiting and retention efforts? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Angela Surra, Principal Benefits Expert at Mineral HR & Compliance, on Quora:
Since the Great Resignation, business leaders have placed increased importance on recruiting, retention, and engagement. Mineral’s 2023 State of HR Report found that 87% of SMB leaders view retaining and engaging talent as the most critical initiative for company success. While every employer would like to simply pay its talent more to keep them happy and on board, that is not a realistic option for every business. Whether or not a business can set itself apart from its competitors with salary, thoughtful leaders can create tremendous value for their employees by providing impactful benefits that directly address their workforce’s needs. Those who offer benefits that stand out from the crowd will be even better positioned to attract and retain their talent.
Childcare & Eldercare Assistance
Shockingly few businesses offer childcare and eldercare benefits to their employees, despite the clear need for both and the cross-generational appeal of these offerings. 82% of respondents to Mineral’s State of HR Report stated they do not plan to implement child or senior care benefits. Employers offering these benefits could gain a distinct advantage over their competitors by solving a major pain point for their employees.
Dual-income households have been more common than single-income households with children 18 years and younger for half a century, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the lack of childcare benefits often makes it difficult for these households to manage childcare. Parents need childcare if they work full time, both in person and remotely. The same is true for older generations who need to care for aging loved ones and worry about taking time off of work to do so. They can’t consistently rely on FMLA leave to attend doctor’s appointments or pay wellness visits.
Failing to provide these benefits could be the difference between hiring top talent and losing them to a competitor. It could also be the difference between an individual’s decision to take a job or not work at all. Engage with an HR professional to understand the rules and implementation process for crafting a childcare and eldercare assistance program for your workplace. Adding these programs reinforces your commitment to employees and their families.
Health & Wellness
Both physical and mental wellness benefits are sorely needed, and employees rightly consider them necessities in a comprehensive benefits package. The pandemic shed light on mental health issues, and physical conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and respiratory diseases that demand excellent health care. Fortunately, employers are increasingly meeting employee demands for these benefits, and they’re sure to reap the benefits of a grateful workforce. In Mineral’s State of HR Report, business leaders stated that “improving health and wellness benefits” was the #3 initiative their businesses were planning over the next 12 months to improve recruiting and retention.
For businesses deciding which health and wellness benefits to include, a few of the most impactful benefits to consider are telehealth plans, access to mental health apps, and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonist medication access.
Employers may want to consider providing telehealth plans, which are vital because they remove geographic barriers to great care. Especially for employees who live in remote locations, a visit to a quality physician could take an entire workday (or more). In contrast, telehealth access can help patients see their doctor in an hour or two.
Mental health apps are also a fantastic value add to a benefits plan. While not as effective as seeing a professional therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist, mental health apps can offer employers a low-cost benefit to improve their employees’ mental wellness.
Finally, GLP-1 medications (i.e., Ozempic and Wegovy) have received much media attention for their weight loss benefits. While the cost of providing access to these drugs may be high, employers should consider the value they can give employees and the relative cost of obesity as a disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states one in five children and one in three adults struggle with obesity, which costs the U.S. healthcare system nearly $173 billion per year. Talk with your broker to determine if a self-funded plan could have more leeway to include these drugs.
Benefits for Part-Time Employees
As the percentage of part-time employees increases, offering benefits to part-time workers could help SMBs reduce the talent gap. This is especially true for industries like hospitality, manufacturing, and retail that rely heavily on part-time and variable-hour workers. The struggle of these businesses to attract and retain part-time talent has created a domino effect, as businesses lose much-needed help and consumers lose reliable options for where to spend their dollars. Benefits for part-time employees can help solve these problems by providing more incentives for part-time workers. There are three main options I would recommend for part-time employee benefits: individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements (ICHRAs), lowering the eligibility threshold, and minimum essential coverage (MEC) plans.
ICHRAs represent a great option to help employees pay for individual health insurance premiums and/or reimburse eligible medical expenses. Because of their flexibility, employers can customize the plan eligibility requirements for their organization, including making part-time employees a designated class to offer them the benefit. After consulting with their insurance carrier, employers might also consider lowering their eligibility threshold (the hours worked criteria for employee benefits eligibility).
Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) set the minimum number of weekly hours at 30 per week to receive full-time status, employers have the option to select a number more suitable for their needs. Businesses that need part-time employees may receive more interest if their benefits are available at 20 hours per week.
Finally, MEC plans can provide coverage for primary care physicians and specialists, urgent care clinics, some diagnostic services, and generic drugs. Though not as comprehensive as traditional plans, MEC plans are still a strong option for part-time employees who fall short of their employer’s eligibility threshold for traditional benefits.
FSA & HSA
Considering inflation and the rising cost of living, flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health savings accounts (HSAs) are extremely valuable employee benefits. An FSA is attractive to younger workers because it provides immediate access to the full amount in the account, and the funds are withheld pre-tax over each payroll to pay for copays, deductibles, prescriptions, and more. Especially now that student loan repayments have restarted, an FSA is a great vehicle for saving money and will be attractive to millennial and Gen Z part-time workers. Older generations, conversely, are frequently the largest contributors to HSAs. An HSA allows employees to lower their healthcare costs by saving pre-tax money for qualified medical expenses, such as copays and deductibles. Employers should consider adding an FSA option to their benefits package to attract younger talent, and comparing HSA-compatible plans at their next benefits renewal to ensure the needs of their seasoned talent are met.