NonTraditional Benefits Are Important to Employees

Julie Shenkman
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In a competitive market, human resources departments often struggle to keep their best employees. According to recent research, the key to employee retention may lie in non-traditional wellness benefits. By offering unique perks and programs designed to promote overall well-being, companies can reduce turnover and cut training costs.

In 2015, the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans (IFEBP) released the "Workplace Wellness Trends" survey, which found that more businesses are providing non-traditional benefits to their employees. Most of the new benefits are designed to create a more holistic approach to employee wellness. The shift comes as American employees grow increasingly concerned with health and happiness in the workplace.

The most popular of the non-traditional benefits focuses on vacation time. Instead of discouraging employees from taking days off or offering vacation payouts, companies are moving in the other direction. The IFEBP survey found that 66 percent of the respondents are actively encouraging their staff to take advantage of paid time off. By creating a climate in which employees can take vacation without fearing for their jobs, employers can promote a better work-life balance. Guilt-free vacation initiatives can go a long way in reducing stress and avoiding burnout.

Stress is a common motivator in the creation of many new non-traditional benefits. According to the American Institute of Stress, between 40 and 80 percent of American workers report high levels of work-related stress. To help employees deal effectively with the pressures of a modern office, some companies are offering mental health benefits. The IFEBP survey found that 63 percent of respondents offered mental health coverage as part of their benefits package.

To attract and retain employees, many of the top American employers are adding non-traditional benefits to their compensation packages. Google, which regularly makes lists of top American employers, provides onsite fitness centers, free massages and paid leave for new fathers. It also offers free foods, free rides to work and on-campus physicians. Many of the Google perks are designed to help employees deal with everyday stresses, such as laundry and doctor visits, during work hours.

Other companies are taking the process a step farther by creating benefits that help employees' families. Apple and Facebook, in an attempt to help female employees achieve professional success and parenthood, added egg-freezing services to their benefits packages. The Campbell Soup Company offers kindergarten and after-school care programs on site, so parents can access quality childcare without leaving work. At Mattel, Inc., parents get paid time off to attend their children's field trips and school events.

While smaller companies may not have the resources to pay at the same level as America's top employers, adding non-traditional benefits can help fill the void. Human resources departments that focus on holistic employee wellness can create happier workplaces and improve talent retention.


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