Quick look: National Employee Benefits Day occurs each April and brings awareness to 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. Here, explore today’s most in-demand benefits and five ways business leaders can hone their offerings to consistently 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, 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.”
In 2023, National Employee Benefits Day falls on April 6 and focuses on supporting organizations in creating a better work-life blend. The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans defines three pillars of a healthy blend:
- Flexibility: The Foundation recognizes that the ideal work-life balance differs for each person and encourages employers and benefits professionals to discuss what kinds of flexibility their plan participants value the most.
- Well-being: Comprehensive wellness, including mental, physical, and financial health, helps employees be their best selves at work and home.
- Happiness at work: By maintaining a workplace that’s inclusive and harassment-free, business leaders can help their staff feel valued, recognized, and involved.
Keep up with—and stand out from—competition
The benefits landscape is constantly changing. At the same time, offering the right plans to employees is one of the most impactful ways to attract and retain talent. Exploring what 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.
Research from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans answers these questions. Per the Foundation’s Employee Benefits Survey 2022, which polled over 500 organizations of varying sizes in about 20 industries, the following percentages of workplaces offer the below benefits:
- Paid bereavement/funeral leave: 87%
- Paid maternity leave (beyond legal requirements): 43%
- Paid volunteer/community service leave: 32%
- Employee assistance programs (EAPs): 92%
- Hybrid work arrangements: 74%
- Financial/retirement consultation services: 28%
- Manager training: 47%
- Mentorship program: 31%
- Structured onboarding program: 55%
5 ways SMBs can celebrate National Employee Benefits Day
While there may be a stronger focus on employee benefits in April (and during open enrollment), the need for honing your benefits strategy exists all year long. The following five tips can guide employers to craft a benefits package that fits the needs of their workforce and helps them hire and keep top performers.
1. Customize your benefits offerings
Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all plan offerings. Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever, and the most successful organizations will have benefits packages that suit that trend.
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 planning services.
Meanwhile, younger employees may prioritize mental health coverage, paid time off (PTO), pet insurance, and student loan assistance.
2. Focus on flexibility
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked seemingly permanent changes in the workplace. Today’s employees want to work for a company that can provide flexibility, whether that means working a remote, hybrid, or flex or part-time schedule.
According to McKinsey, a flexible working arrangement is the third strongest motivator for finding a new job. And while not every organization can feasibly provide these accommodations, you should consider doing so to aid in 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, state-specific leave policies, and more. The risk and compliance experts at a professional employer organization (PEO) specialize in helping SMBs navigate these concerns.
3. Be mindful of mental health benefits
There are several reasons mental health benefits are growing in popularity. One in five Americans will experience a mental health condition in a given year, and Gallup reports that 57% of U.S. workers report feeling stressed daily. Additionally, in 2022, nearly half of large employers experienced an increase in the share of their workers seeking mental health services.
As such, SMB leaders should consider offering health insurance plans with mental health coverage, access to an EAP, and the option to utilize telehealth services. Doing so can help 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)
Everyone deserves to feel included at work—and employees today agree. According to MetLife’s 2022 study, “The Rise of the Whole Employee: 20 Years of Change in Employer-Employee Dynamics,” 74% of workers were interested in DEI groups when deciding to accept a new job in 2022 (versus just 48% in 2021). Additionally, 65% of employees expect their companies to take action to promote DEI within their businesses.
Business leaders can demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion 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, how to manage 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 simplest ways to make an impactful change on your employee benefits strategy is by partnering with a PEO.
Many SMBs are focused on growth and may struggle to find the time to navigate the latest employee benefits trends and vendors. Additionally, as a small organization, they may find it difficult to afford to sponsor a wide variety of plan options.
PEOs can help with all of 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:
- Access to Fortune 500-level benefits with affordable, large-group pricing
- Comprehensive benefits administration and management services
- Dedicated HR Managers to assist with crafting leave policies, flexible workplace arrangements, etc.
- A team of risk and compliance experts to address remote workplace issues
- An intuitive DEI Dashboard that provides valuable, actionable DEI data
- A learning and development platform featuring training sessions on topics like harassment, bias, and more
A PEO can help your small business attract and retain talent by offering big-business benefits. Contact the benefits experts at ExtensisHR today to get started.