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Move Over Health Plans, Employees Want New Benefits

The health insurance plan has been the go-to employee benefit since HMOs were first introduced in the 1970s. Any company wishing to compete for top talent in its respective industry has had to offer some sort of health insurance. Many go the extra mile and throw in vision and dental coverage. But as Bob Dylan so eloquently reminded us in 1964, the times are changing.

Employee health plans are still important. And yet, workers are looking for new benefits as well. This desire for new benefits is partly the result of natural cultural evolution. It is also partially the result of COVID. Fallout from the coronavirus crisis has led to a re-evaluation of what is important. Today’s workers, particularly younger ones, have different values. COVID has brought those values to the forefront.

Work Environment Flexibility

So, what are the new benefits today’s employees are looking for? Near the top of the list is work environment flexibility. In other words, employees whose jobs allow remote work want the flexibility to choose where they work on any given day. They may want to work from home today and the office tomorrow. They may want to work from the Poconos for a week.

BenefitMall is a Dallas company that specializes in employee benefits. They recently published a blog post in which they cited data suggesting that three quarters of working adults would give up a major benefit in exchange for being able to choose where they work. Those major benefits include health insurance.

That is a stunning statistic by any measure. The fact that workers would give up health insurance – something that has been deemed so important for so long – in exchange for work environment flexibility shows just how much priorities have changed.

Other Benefits Workers Want

Work environment flexibility may not be so difficult to pull off for companies that have already embraced remote work as a result of COVID. But what about the other new benefits employees are asking for? Time will tell. In the meantime, here are a few of those new benefits:

1. Mental Health Benefits

Dealing with COVID has brought the issue of mental health to the forefront. Companies are coming to understand that they need their employees to be in good mental health if they hope to maintain productivity. Likewise, employees are more cognizant than ever of their own state of mental health. Thus, the push for mental health benefits is on.

2. Child Care Benefits

Though the COVID crisis did not necessarily create an entirely new demand for childcare, it did make it obvious to parents just how hard it was to find quality childcare. This has led to a desire for tangible childcare benefits that make it easier for parents to afford in-home daycare, nannies, etc.

3. Home Office Benefits

With so much emphasis now being placed on remote work, employees are looking for additional financial benefits that help them maintain home offices. One example is a weekly or monthly stipend to cover office expenses. Another is a technology package that either provides technology directly or reimburses employees for bringing their own.

Employee benefits will continue to be a great tool for attracting and retaining talent. Yet at the same time, they will have to evolve to keep pace with the culture. Right now, the biggest cultural influence on employee benefits is the ongoing COVID crisis and its work-related fallout.

In short, health insurance is no longer the be-all and end-all of employee benefit packages. Today’s workers want additional benefits as well. It is up to employers to respond accordingly.

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