During this historic labor shortage, often referred to as the Great Resignation, Human Resources leaders are searching for ways to attract top talent. And they often turn to innovative benefits. Many are at least considering off-the-beaten-path ideas that provide practical solutions to employees’ biggest problems.
Recently, Goldman Sachs made headlines for its rollout of new benefits designed to fight employee burnout. Others are also listening to employees, who say they need better healthcare, health and wellness benefits, financial wellness benefits, and child care.
The winners in the talent wars will not just heed what employees are saying and take action. They will also think beyond the usual medical insurance and 401(k) benefits packages. These are not your parents’ benefits. Discover some new ideas gaining traction:
Paid Leave for Miscarriages
One of the more remarkable new benefits that Goldman Sachs is offering is the opportunity for those who have had a miscarriage to take time off and get paid for it. Many women have felt that they could not even be honest about needing to miss work for a miscarriage, so this is really forward thinking.
The fact is that many experience physical symptoms of a miscarriage, in addition to the emotional toll, all of which make going to work nearly impossible. This kind of benefit may attract women, who have been leaving the workforce in droves during the pandemic. It also shows empathy for workers, which is a key to successful leadership.
Unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO)
Lots of HR leaders have been talking about unlimited PTO. But some are hesitant to leap into agreeing to this benefit. They fear that employees will take advantage and that absenteeism, perhaps even during busy times when deadlines need to be met, will become a problem.
However, some employees have used the pandemic to win the argument in favor of unlimited paid time off. After all, productivity went up as employees worked from home and had more freedom over their schedules.
For example, Eric Brotman, President and Managing Principal of Brotman Financial Group, Inc., wasn’t sold on unlimited paid time off, so his organization is offering responsible paid time off (RPTO). Technically, Brotman writes in Forbes, it is unlimited but with a caveat.
“They need to check in with their team to make sure someone is covering any tasks that may come in, and nobody can take advantage of the policy to become an absentee employee while still collecting a paycheck,” he writes.
Unpaid Time Off
Unpaid time off doesn’t seem like the greatest benefit, especially at a time when many families are financially vulnerable. However, some companies are offering unpaid time off or sabaticals. The idea is to give people the option to take the time they need without having to worry about losing their job.
Goldman Sachs included a six-week unpaid sabatical among its new offerings. People can use this time to recharge, be with family, or pursue other interests. Employees who can’t miss the paychecks don’t have to use this benefit.
Many Americans could not afford a $400 emergency, and they sometimes turn to high-interest payday loan services for help with making ends meet. This can be financially devastating. So, employers are responding with on-demand pay. They partner with third-party platforms to offer employees access to money they have earned ahead of the allotted pay day.
While some risk-averse businesses are taking a wait-and-see-approach to on-demand pay, many believe it will become a norm in the near future. Once the payroll technology catches up to the trend, employers will likely buy into this employee-preferred payment structure. The gig economy is also making this more feasible because those workers often get paid immediately after performing a task or service.
Financial Wellness Benefits
Financial wellness benefits include financial coaching, student loan assistance, and emergency savings and financial planning, in addition to the more traditional 401(k) options, according to CNBC. More than 40% of employers who responded in Bank of America’s Workplace Benefits Report said they added or enhanced benefits to help employees manage their financial stress since the start of the pandemic.
An example of this type of financial wellness benefit is using the Internal Revenue Service’s option to make contributions into employees’ 401(k) matching the payment they make toward student loans, writes Brotman in his Forbes column. Others provide financial consultants to help employees plan for the future or big expenses like a home or having a baby.
Sustainable Travel Rewards
Employees, especially Millennials and those from Gen Z, are demanding that employers do more than pay lip service to issues like climate change. Providing sustainable travel rewards meets the needs of employees while also addressing environmental concerns.
Employees get rewarded for choosing to travel for the holidays via more sustainable means, according to Forbes. So, instead of traveling by plane, you would take a train to your final destination. And your employer would reward you with extra PTO.
Remote work offers people the opportunity to work from anywhere. As a result, some companies are offering employees the chance to work remotely at destinations abroad, according to Forbes. Amazon has already said its employees will be able to work remotely for up to a month annually.
“We also know that many people have found the ability to work remotely from a different location for a few weeks at a time inspiring and reenergizing,” writes Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to employees. “We want to support this flexibility and will continue to offer those corporate employees, who can work effectively away from the office, the option to work up to four weeks per year fully remote from any location within your country of employment.”
These innovative benefits are just the beginning of a transition toward a more employee-centric work structure. HR leaders are navigating a whole new world, and these kinds of benefits respond to the needs of employees while also transforming the idea of benefits packages.
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