Employee benefits have always varied by company, but COVID-19 brought about changes that are altering how many organizations build their benefit programs in 2022.
As always, Back approaches these topics with the employee experience in mind. And during a time of extreme turnover (“The Great Resignation”) and the war for talent, it’s more important than ever that companies offer benefits that employees truly care about.
In this article, we’ll cover some key points to consider when building your benefit program, then offer 8 of the most popular employee benefits for 2022 according to People experts.
Key points to consider when building benefit programs
A study published by Forbes showed that 33% of workers ranked financial wellness as their main problem area, while 24% rated mental and emotional health as their top area of concern.
Perhaps what this tells us more than anything is that employees differ. This is why companies must make efforts to offer a holistic benefits package – one that covers a variety of areas that employees care about.
The package also needs to consider diversity & inclusion. Different employees can be facing very different challenges in their personal lives. The benefit package should be customizable to suit each employee, or at least take their circumstances into account.
For example, a fitness membership to one specific gym might not be suitable for some of your workforce. Is the gym suitable for non-binary and trans people? What about for those employees with physical disabilities?
It’s common for companies to fall into a trap of trying to offer good benefits but actually ending up doing more harm than good – or having a bunch of benefits that no one uses. Be sure also to consider whether the offering is actually seen as a benefit in the eyes of the employee or just from the HR point of view. (For example: remote work or flexible scheduling. Is that a benefit or an expectation?)
Most importantly, remember to dive deeper. It’s not enough to just provide a gym membership or discount. Companies need to take it a step further and show that they care. It’s about digging to the root of the problem and finding benefits that align – not just choosing a quick-win, Band-Aid solution.
On the health benefits example, Emily Taylor at HR Executive said this: “It’s one thing to encourage healthier behavior for your people, but another to empower them with resources, knowledge and tools to succeed.”
The 8 best employee benefits for 2022
With all these points in mind, here are our picks for 8 of the best employee benefits to offer in 2022.
1) Physical health programs
Physical health benefits can come in a wide range of forms, the most obvious (and largest) being health insurance. In countries where this is applicable, some companies are starting to offer 100% employer-paid healthcare – a key selling point for top talent.
Outside of healthcare, physical health programs that meet the COVID moment are becoming more popular in 2022. For example, some companies are going beyond the gym membership benefit and offering budgets for employees to have their own home-gym.
2) Mental health programs
In a period of ambiguity and stress, and with 77% of employees having experienced burnout, mental health benefits are highly sought-after by employees. Some of the most popular include expanded healthcare that covers mental health services (e.g. therapy), subscriptions to mental health and mindfulness apps like Headspace, mental health days, and more. Considering all the stress each of us has endured during the pandemic, it’s fair to say these benefits may pay for themselves by keeping employees happy and (mentally) healthy.
3) Financial wellness programs
Physical and mental health: check. But what about financial health? The pandemic put a spotlight on all of our financial situations, and many of your employees might benefit from financial literacy programs. These can be hard for individual employees to come by on their own, so if your company can offer them as a perk, go for it!
This is especially important if your business offers stock options or other complex forms of compensation. Give your employees the resources they need to make the most of their finances.
4) Team connection (virtual or offsites)
With so many teams being either hybrid or fully remote, it’s more important than ever in 2022 to facilitate ways for employees to connect. For some companies, this comes in the form of virtual events, like Zoom game nights or happy hours. For others, it involves bringing the whole team (or parts of it) together for an offsite in one place.
In our blog on the 5 HR trends that will shape Employee Experience in 2022, Jessica Zwaan, Chief Operating Officer at Whereby, spoke on the topic of all-company events:
“I think the move to remote culture will start putting new strategic pressure on the company offsite, something which has long been a bit passé in Silicon Valley. I think companies will start being more and more creative and considerate when crafting their all-company get-togethers as we exit COVID and enter the new remote reality. The HR team has a big part to play here with L&D opportunities, recruitment marketing, skill-sharing and recognition.”
5) Flexible or unlimited PTO
According to SHRM, employees in the US rank paid time off as the second most important benefit after healthcare. PTO is a key topic for workers around the world, and who knows better how employees want to spend their time off than the employees themselves?
This is where the rise in flexible PTO stems from. Flexible PTO might mean that each employee gets a set number of days off to use as they wish, whether for traditional holidays, their birthdays, or even mental health days.
Taking this one step further are the companies who offer unlimited PTO – a trend we’ve seen rising in recent years. Unlimited PTO is, of course, not actually an unlimited amount of vacation days (that would be an abuse of the policy), but it is another form of flexible PTO that places trust and control with the employee.
With so many families encountering childcare challenges during the pandemic as schools and daycares closed, many companies started to offer benefits in this area to support working parents. Whether offering stipends for daycare or even on-site childcare at the workplace, consider how your benefits package can make life easier for employees who have kids.
7) Pet insurance
You probably know at least a few people who ended up with a Pandemic Pet – maybe you even got a new fluffy friend yourself. With the surge in pet ownership over the last two years, and considering how expensive it can be when pets get sick, some companies are choosing to offer pet insurance. It’s far more affordable than human insurance and is a perk your pet-owning employees will appreciate.
8) Personalized benefit packages
As we mentioned earlier, benefit packages need to be carefully crafted to fit each employee’s circumstances. In some cases, it might be easier to let them build their package themselves.
Some employers choose to offer personalization options so employees can maximize the benefit of their benefits. For example, maybe you offer a stipend they can spend as they please, from gym memberships to childcare to learning & development. Or, maybe you offer options for them to choose between, like childcare benefits or pet insurance. That way, employees can allocate their benefits to the areas that are most important to them and relevant for their lives.
As we continue into 2022, benefits should always be adapting to meet employee needs. Failing to do so can not only impair productivity but also make it harder to attract and retain talent. We hope this list will serve as a solid starting point as you build out the right benefits package for your company and your employees.