Money talks, but not nearly as loud as benefits do. Nearly 80 percent of today’s workforce prefer benefits to a salary increase. Specifically, the younger workforce is much more concerned with how their job fits into their lifestyle over how big their paycheck is. Still, small, and growing organizations don’t have the large people budgets that large corporations do. It’s imperative to be strategic about choosing the benefits that are most important to your people. Employers who focus on what benefits employees really want are the ones who will attract top talent and come out strongest.

Top Employee Benefits of 2021 

Last year redefined how America does business. Suddenly, every industry was faced with a change, a pivot, and flexibility. While the virus will subside and life will go back to normal, your business and your people are permanently changed. That applies to your benefits package as well. In 2021, employees are looking for different benefits from their employers and if you’re not offering them, they will find a company who is. Here are the top employee benefits of 2021.

employee benefit working from home at desk

#1 Flexible Work Arrangements

This is the number one priority employees are looking for. They want to know that their employer will be flexible with their work arrangements. While some were anxious to get back to the office, according to Glassdoor, more than 60 percent of employees would have liked to continue working from home full-time after COVID if given the option. Many new employees are actively looking for positions that are entirely remote. Employees have seen the light, worked through the transition, set up home offices, and they’re not ready to let that go.

#2 Health Insurance Benefits

This has always been at the top of the benefits list. Health insurance is not only necessary, but it’s a requirement in the United States and without employer support, health insurance can be very expensive. Over 50% of individuals and families in the U.S. have used credit cards to pay medical bills because they could not afford them otherwise. This snowballs into unmanageable debt very quickly. Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are other ways employers can help with the high cost of healthcare for employees.

#3 Paid Time Off

paid time off benefit

Over 75 percent of employees live paycheck to paycheck, making it almost impossible to take a day off when they need it for any reason. Employees continue to work when they are distracted, sick, or burned out. Paid time off is a critical component to allow your employees the flexibility they need to take care of themselves and their families.

#4 Student Loan or Education Benefits

There is more than $1.6 trillion in student loan debt in the United States. More employers are starting to adopt student loan benefits as a tool to attract and retain younger employees. This may be a type of student loan repayment assistance, undergraduate or graduate tuition assistance, 529 plan payroll deductions, or scholarships for employees and their family.

#5 Financial Wellness Programs

Every family in America felt the financial pain of 2020. The pandemic drove home just how important it is to have financial tools and resources for your family. A financial wellness program, or access to a financial advisor helps your employees to manage their debt, budget for expenses, and invest with confidence.

#6 Mental Health Benefits 

Roughly 1 in 4 employees have been diagnosed with depression. Mental health takes a real toll on your people.  Still, nearly 60 percent of employees struggling with mental health said their employer doesn’t offer any mental health benefits. Mental health benefits may also include:

  • Addiction recovery programs
  • Financial assistance/debt consolidation
  • Marital counseling

Employees for mental health should be easy to access, so that your people don’t have to talk to their boss or HR to get the help they need if they are uncomfortable. Making mental health a priority at work can reduce the stigma that comes with using therapy or a counselor and encourage a supportive team.

#7 Family-Friendly Employee Benefits

employee day care benefit

In more than 60 percent of families, both parents work full time. Benefits for the entire family can be a huge motivator for employees because they know their family will be taken care of.

  • Childcare: The average annual cost of full-time center-based childcare ($9,589) is more expensive than in-state college tuition ($9,410). Still, only 6 percent of companies offer childcare benefits, while 60 percent of families are paying outrageous bills for childcare each month. Providing resources, referral services, or subsidies for on-site or near-site childcare can be a game changer for working parents.
  • Fertility: Employee benefits for family planning and new parents is on the rise. Many programs now cover the costs of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and egg freezing or harvesting.
  • Family Leave: Focus on areas like maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave to expand the options available for your people.

#8 Professional Development Benefits

More employees want to move forward in their careers. They want access to networking conferences, personal and professional development classes, executive or leadership coaching, mentoring or career programs, professional training, etc. This is a win-win benefits for employers because the employee is given a valuable resource and you get highly trained leaders.

#9: Lifestyle benefits 

happy employee

This is a broad category, but it’s often what sets others aside from the competition. This is where the infamous Google perks come in. Lifestyle benefits are simply designed to make life easier for your employees. Here are some of the most requested benefits that we have seen regardless of industry or location. These include:

  • Gym passes/yoga classes
  • Childcare support
  • Domestic helper coverage
  • Healthy eating initiatives
  • Travel or vacations
  • Auto services
  • Concerts and events

According to a recent employee benefits survey, 88% of employees would consider a lower-paying job if the benefits were better. Studies show what employees’ value is changing. As tempting as it is to keep up with the Googles of the business world, it is important that you do not invest in benefits your employees do not value. Finding the right mix of benefits and ROI is a challenge. If you’re not sure where to start, learn more about Beny. Beny is an online marketplace where employees can choose individualized lifestyle benefits, such as the ones listed above. The employer contributes to the employee’s account and gives the choice to their employees, so there is no guessing what your employees value most.