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National Employee Benefits Day 2024: Which Benefits Foster Belonging?

Quick look: Each April, National Employee Benefits Day raises awareness of the importance of offering a strong employee benefits package. However, to make the most impact, SMB employers should carefully monitor benefits trends and their workforce’s needs year-round. Review today’s most sought-after benefits, particularly those addressing loneliness—this year’s theme for National Employee Benefits Day. Also, discover five strategies business leaders can implement to refine their benefit offerings, ensuring they continuously attract and retain top talent.

Employee benefits are a big deal. The right benefits package can help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) keep their best workers and improve their financial, mental, and physical health.

National Employee Benefits Day, created in 2004 by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), aims to highlight the importance of employee benefits. Celebrated each year in April, the day “recognizes trustees, administrators, benefits practitioners and professional advisors for their dedication to providing quality benefits and the important role they play in their colleagues’ well-being.”

National Employee Benefits Day 2024: “Creating Community to Combat Loneliness”

In 2024, National Employee Benefits Day falls on Tuesday, April 2, and focuses on helping workers create meaningful connections and overcome feelings of loneliness.

According to IFEBP, three types of loneliness exist:

  1. Social loneliness: Feeling like no one is around, feeling you don’t belong, and feeling disconnected from others
  2. Emotional loneliness: Feeling abandoned or excluded
  3. Existential loneliness: Feeling misunderstood or separate from the rest of the world

IFEBP states that employers are now prioritizing their staff’s mental well-being, as loneliness is linked to health problems, decreased productivity, increased turnover, and an uptick in burnout.

Which benefits best deter loneliness?

When considering employee benefits that can instill a sense of belonging, it’s important to keep in mind your company’s total rewards package, including monetary, beneficial, and developmental rewards. Plans and perks that can prevent loneliness include:

How do your benefits compare?

Reviewing which benefits today’s businesses are offering (and not offering) can help SMB leaders understand which plans can enable them to keep pace with their competition and differentiate themselves.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)’s 2023 Employee Benefits Survey captured and analyzed feedback from HR professionals and employers and found that:

  • 89% of employers consider health-related benefits an important part of their plans.
  • 94% offer a retirement savings plan to their employees, and 84% provide a matching contribution.
  • 62% of organizations allow staff to work remotely at least sometimes.
  • Families are coming into the foreground, with more organizations providing maternity leave (40%), paternity leave (33%), adoption leave (34%), and foster child leave (25%), as well as 19% offering pet insurance.

5 ways to elevate your employee benefits year-round

While there may be a stronger focus on employee benefits in April and during open enrollment, the need to adapt your benefits strategy exists all year long. The following five tips can help employers develop benefit offerings that support employees holistically and help attract and retain top performers.

1. Customize your benefits offerings

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all plans. Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever, and the most successful organizations will have benefits packages that suit that trend.

Your staff likely includes a mix of Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z, each with their own distinct benefit needs.

For example, Baby Boomers’ top priorities may include physical health and ancillary medical coverages, like vision insurance. And as they approach retirement, they may be more interested in financial wellness initiatives.

Meanwhile, younger employees may prioritize mental health coverage, paid time off (PTO), pet insurance, and student loan assistance.

2. Focus on flexibility

Today’s employees want to work for a company that offers flexibility, whether that means working a remote, hybrid, flex, or part-time schedule.

According to Gallup, eight in 10 remote-capable workers expect a hybrid or fully remote schedule. And while only some organizations can feasibly provide these accommodations, you should consider doing so to aid hiring and retention efforts.

Employers hiring a remote or multistate workforce should be aware of associated compliance implications. A dispersed staff means business leaders must pay close attention to the various payroll and wage laws, region-specific tax laws, workplace safety legislation, and state-specific leave policies. The risk and compliance experts at a professional employer organization (PEO) specialize in helping SMBs navigate these concerns.

3. Be mindful of mental wellness benefits

Mental health benefits are growing in popularity for several reasons. One in five Americans will experience a mental health condition in a given year, and 57% of U.S. workers report feeling stressed daily. Additionally, 36% of employers stated that expanding access to mental health services is one of their top healthcare initiatives in 2024.

As such, companies should consider offering health insurance plans with mental health coverage, access to an EAP, and the option to utilize telehealth services. This approach ensures those who need help the most receive it, as almost one-quarter of those with moderate or severe anxiety and/or depression have skipped or delayed therapy due to cost.

4. Commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

Over half of U.S. employees report that an organization’s DEI initiatives significantly affect their decision on where to work.

Business leaders can demonstrate their commitment to DEI by selecting a representative leadership team, offering inclusive benefits (i.e., chronic disease and care management, disability-specific services, and family-forming support), and providing management training on topics like overcoming unconscious bias, managing a multigenerational team, and more. They may also analyze internal equity using a tool like ExtensisHR’s DEI Dashboard, which provides real-time data on pay equity, salary trends, turnover, promotions, and more across gender and race demographics.

5. Partner with a PEO

One of the best ways to make an impactful change to your employee benefits strategy and combat loneliness in your organization is by partnering with the benefits professionals at a PEO.

Many SMBs, with their sights set on growth, may find it challenging to keep up with the latest employee benefits trends and sift through the myriad of vendors. Moreover, smaller organizations may also face difficulties in affording to sponsor various plan options.

PEOs can help with all that and more on National Employee Benefits Day and beyond. For example, ExtensisHR, a nationally recognized PEO, simplifies HR for SMBs by offering the following:

  • Fortune 500-level benefits (including mental health coverage and EAP access) with competitive, large-group pricing
  • Comprehensive health plan administration and management services
  • Dedicated, SHRM-Certified HR Managers to assist with crafting leave policies, flexible workplace arrangements, mentorship programs, etc.
  • A learning and development platform featuring training sessions on topics like harassment, bias, and more
  • An intuitive DEI Dashboard that provides valuable, actionable DEI data

The benefits experts at ExtensisHR are available not only on National Employee Benefits Day but throughout the year to equip small businesses with big-business benefits. Contact us today and learn how we can help you craft a benefits package to cultivate loyal, engaged employees who feel a sense of connection and belonging.

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