Navigating Benefits

How to Add Unique Employee Benefits Your Colleagues Will Love (and Use)

  • In 2019, employers will spend an average of $14,800 per employee on annual health benefits

  • Around 44 percent of professionals say they will stay with an employer for five years or more if the organization offers a strong benefits package

  • The top fringe benefits requested by employees include the option to work from home, free meals and transit reimbursement

Posted by March 18, 2019

One of the biggest reasons an individual applies for a job—and stays at that job—is the benefits. But are unique employee benefits like gym membership reimbursement and pet insurance right for your organization? With the cost of health care benefits alone expected to average $14,800 a person in 2019, based on research from the nonprofit National Business Group on Health, adding new perks to the mix will take careful consideration.

When unique employee benefits are catered to your colleagues’ diverse needs and wants, they can inspire participation, loyalty and renewed interest in work. However, when the benefits aren’t customized, they run the risk of being underutilized and setting your company back financially.

Here are five tips for adding worthwhile fringe benefits to your organization’s offerings—and getting your colleagues to actually use them.

1. Identify What Matters to the Workforce

In an age of multi-generational workforces, there is no one-size-fits-all benefits program. Unique employee benefits and perks appeal to different employees for different reasons.For instance, in a LinkedIn Workplace Culture report, 44 percent of professionals reported they would stay longer (up to five years) with a company that offered a strong benefits package. However, only 9 percent of the employees in the baby-boomer range agreed; they would rather be offered a bigger salary.

Employees have different priorities during different stages of life. Accordingly, it’s up to employers to find out what those are, and offer unique employee benefits that correspond with these needs.

2. Explain How to Make the Most of the Benefits Package

One of the more frustrating aspects of administering benefits is finding out that few people are taking advantage of them. In most cases, it’s because employees don’t take the time to learn about the benefits available to them.

A classic example of this can be seen with dental insurance benefits: The Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2017 Employer Health Benefits Survey noted that the majority of small businesses—67 percent—offer dental benefits at group rates. However, the leading reason people don’t use their benefits is fear of what it’s actually going to cost them, be it a routine cleaning or full-on procedure.

There is mounting evidence that regular dental care helps prevent absenteeism and the loss of productivity due to emergency dental needs, so it’s worth the effort to educate employees on what their insurance actually gets them.

3. Promote Use of Benefits Across All Employees

If a team member or manager is living a healthy lifestyle and utilizing the gym benefits your organization provides, it can inspire others to do the same. Sometimes unique employee benefits sound great during onboarding, but employees forget about them or are unsure how to take advantage of them later on.

By having employees across all ranks use (and promote) these workplace perks, they essentially become benefit ambassadors. In turn, this could make the benefits package more likely to be utilized company-wide, as others will follow the example set by the “early adopters.”

4. Test a Few Benefits at a Time

It’s important to keep in mind that not all fringe benefits are worth offering! For instance, your organization may think a wellness program is a great benefit, then discover that a large number of employees can’t participate due to physical limitations.

When adding new benefits, it’s a good idea to test them out first—a few at a time—to see how they go over. Things like a gaming system in the break room may only appeal to the younger male workers in your company, and serve as a distraction to others. Alternatively, a vending machine that offers up a variety of healthy snack and beverage choices may appeal to more employees.

Need more inspiration? Staffing firm Robert Half says the option to work from home, transportation reimbursement and free meals are among the most requested benefits by workers.

5. Use Communication Effectively

Administrators should take every opportunity to communicate with employees about how they’re using their benefits. Additionally, they should give clear instructions on how to make the best use of unfamiliar benefits, like how to file pet insurance claims or use a transit debit card.

And before employees utilize fringe benefits like tuition gym membership reimbursement, they should make sure they know exactly how much the company covers. This can help protect against any surprises.

Unique benefits can be a great way to show your colleagues you care about what matters most to them. Check out United Concordia Dental’s Dental Plan Navigator to learn more about developing a benefits package your team members will love.

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