Navigating Benefits

Employee Perks: The Value of Fringe Benefits


  • Employees typically rank work perks as a top priority in surveys

  • The most popular perks include wellness and financial programs, free meals, remote working and onsite amenities

  • Make sure your fellow employees (and prospective hires) know about the perks your organization offers

Posted by May 31, 2019

When it comes to attracting (and keeping) top talent, offering the right employee perks can play a big role in helping your business stay competitive.

Fringe benefits might actually be more important than you think! Here’s a look at just how crucial they are, and how HR leaders can employ fringe benefits as a tool for recruitment, engagement and retention.

Work Perks Are a Top Priority for Employees

According to a survey conducted by Zenefits—which polled 600 small and midsize businesses—68 percent of employees report that they consider work perks to be just as important as health coverage, life insurance and other traditional benefits. More than 70 percent of respondents “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that fringe benefits would be a key consideration when evaluating future jobs.

Because fringe benefits often don’t cost much to provide, they’re a great option for small businesses. In fact, 61 percent of respondents in a previous survey said they would take a job with a lower salary if it had better benefits. Although health insurance was their top-rated benefit, they also rated fringe benefits as important.

The Most Popular Fringe Benefits

According to the Zenefits survey, wellness programs are the most popular employee perk. Next are education programs, financial wellness programs, free meals or snacks and commuter benefits.

A previous survey found that 94 percent of professionals want benefits that improve the quality of their lives. The three-highest perks identified in that study were early Friday dismissals, remote (or flexible) work opportunities and onsite amenities like gyms or concierge services. Helping pay down student loans was also popular among workers aged 18 to 24.

How Can You Implement Fringe Benefits?

Fringe benefits can play an important role in helping your company compete in a tight labor market. But how do you implement them, exactly? It all depends on what benefit you’re using.

For financial wellness programs, you can offer in-house financial education sessions or an Employee Assistance Program that helps with issues ranging from legal advice to financial counseling.

Free meals or snacks are easy to provide, just make sure to also offer healthy options. Your organization might even consider joining a farm-share program.

Because wellness programs typically rank as the most popular fringe benefit, it’s a good idea to find out if your health plan has a program you can use. If not, you can outsource to an external organization. Or you can start smaller and create your own program from scratch, such as offering exercise classes in-house and vaccination clinics.

Employees also enjoy remote or flexible work programs. Make sure your employees know that if they’re participating, they’re still expected to meet deadlines and join meetings through video conferencing software. Your company can make sure they’re set up for success with secure systems for sharing files, tasks and more.

There are many other perks you can experiment with, such as offering pet insurance, creating a game (or nap) room and providing extra vacation days or half-days.

How to Use Fringe Benefits Successfully

It’s not enough to have fringe benefits—you need to make sure your fellow employees are using them! One way to do this is by frequently communicating with staff about benefits, including all the fringe benefits available. Simply reminding team members about any changes can help.

When your organization is seeking new job applicants, make sure that all the fringe benefits are listed alongside your main benefits. You also want to make sure that the fringe benefits are relevant to your current colleagues’ needs. That’s where anonymous surveys come in handy. You can measure employee satisfaction with your fringe benefits by using a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” Then ask some open-ended questions about the benefits and allow space for employees to suggest new ones.

Employee perks are a great way to keep employees happy and to stay competitive in a tight labor market. Just make sure your organization is providing the offerings that staff want most, and that employees—and prospective hires—know the perks are available to them.

Looking for tools and resources to help your employees manage their benefits? Check out the Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website.

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