Finding a new job means understanding your needs, researching the job market, and finding a position that fits. You’ll look at factors like location and commute times and salary or hourly wage, but you’ll also look for a company that offers a reasonable benefits package. Before you do, however, you should know a bit about how employee benefits work.
Employee benefits vary based on a number of factors, but there are some that are required by law. Many businesses will offer optional benefits on top of those required in order to keep employees healthy, productive, and happy with their jobs. This offers workers security and comfort, and it works out for the company as well. Read ahead for the ultimate guide to employee benefits for help navigating the waters.
Most of the more talked about benefits are actually optional, but there are some benefits that businesses are legally required to offer their employees.
- Time Off for Duty: All employees must be allowed time off to serve jury duty, vote for office, and perform military service.
- Workers’ Compensation, Disability, and Unemployment: Businesses are required to comply with workers’ compensation requirements as well as contribute to disability programs and pay unemployment taxes.
- FICA Taxes: It’s the company’s responsibility to take out FICA taxes from paychecks as well as pay FICA taxes themselves.
- Federal Family and Medical Leave Act: FMLA guarantees that certain employees who need unpaid leave can take up to 12 weeks without forfeiting health benefits.
Workers must be allowed time off to serve their country in the form of military service, serving on a jury, or voting. Businesses have to pay certain taxes to ensure that employees get workers’ compensation, disability, and unemployment benefits, as well as offer eligible workers job security when they take unpaid leave under FMLA. These benefits are designed to protect workers’ rights, and they’re protected by law.
Many of the benefits employees tend to look for are actually optional. These are typically the more exciting ones, but some of them are important and can make or break a hire.
- Retirement: Retirement planning perks can vary widely between industries, companies, and positions. This is typically something more seasoned employees look for, but millennials also understand the value of saving for the future. It’s easier for employees to see themselves with the same company decades down the road if they offer a retirement plan.
- Healthcare: With the exception of Hawaii, healthcare is not a required benefit in the United States. However, the benefit is a major seller when it comes to attracting high-quality applicants. A substantial health insurance package may provide employees and their families with support and peace of mind that changes their lives. Healthcare packages come in various configurations, which gives businesses even more incentive to offer them to their employees.
- Dental and Vision: Dental and vision coverage are additional perks that may be included in a healthcare package. Oral health actually has a significant impact on general well-being, and anyone who’s had a toothache can attest to its distraction. Poor eye health could even present dangers in the workplace, and an adjusted eyeglass prescription could vastly enhance an employee’s performance.
- Life Insurance: Like retirement, life insurance is a benefit that applies more to older employees than those just entering the workforce. Although while even young workers can see the value in retirement, they might not have a real need for life insurance at this point in their working careers. For someone with a spouse and kids, on the other hand, life insurance could be an important factor.
- Paid Time Off: Paid time off could include sick leave, paid holidays, or vacation time. Sick leave gives employees time to rest up without stressing about putting food on the table, and paid holidays are a nice way to treat workers as part of the celebration. Vacation or personal time gives people some flexibility in case an emergency comes up; alternatively, it lets them take some R&R time away from the job.
Some companies provide employees with all of these benefits, while some don’t offer any at all. Benefits aren’t cheap, so businesses have to determine what they can afford to give their employees and how much coverage they can provide. However, the investment into their workers often turns out worthwhile in the long run.
Why Employers Offer Benefits
If not all benefits are required, what’s in it for the companies that offer the optional benefits as well? Offering health care, paid time off, and other not required employee benefits actually helps out employers in a number of ways, from building up a team of happy, dedicated employees to keeping that team intact.
Appeal to the best young talent. Every spring a new wave of bright-eyed graduates looks to hit the job market, and businesses want the best applicants in the pool to flock to them. The best young prospects will have options to choose from, and a comprehensive benefits package will probably be expected. Employee benefits like medical, dental, and vision coverage are extremely valuable, and many applicants consider them just as important as the pay rate. Any business that wants an up-and-coming team of top-notch prospects should consider the benefits they offer, or they could lose the best applicants to their competitors.
Encourage morale. Employees need to feel like the company cares about them, and benefits packages are a great way to communicate that feeling. Giving workers paid time off for holidays and sickness allow them to recharge when they need to and come back to work refreshed and ready to be productive. It’s in the company’s best interest to keep its employees happy and healthy so they can do their best work and enjoy coming into the office.
Improve employee retention. On that same note, happy employees are naturally more likely to stick around. If businesses don’t treat their workers well, they start looking elsewhere. Every time an employee quits, the long replacement process starts over. It’s far more convenient and affordable to keep productive workers on the team, and employee benefits packages give them an incentive to stay.
Some companies offer benefits that don’t fall into any of these categories, and they typically don’t come with a monetary value. However, they can still make a big difference for employees. A comfortable, open-format workspace may be an appealing perk for young people who like to work in teams. A break room vending machine or pool table, gym access or daycare, and a dog-friendly office can all create a more relaxing and welcoming environment. These perks cost the company little to no money, but they can go a long way when attracting the best young players.
As long as the package makes sense, employee benefits help workers and businesses alike. Employees have their rights protected and are supported in case of emergency or injury, while brands can expect their new hires to remain with the team for the long run. A comprehensive employee benefits package including optional benefits like medical, dental and vision, and life insurance is particularly valuable to employees, and companies can use these packages to attract young talent toward themselves and away from competitors.