Gone are the days when the standard benefits package was ancillary to the CTC and in-hand discussions. Companies now have to go over and above what’s prevalent in the market when looking to hire spruced up talent. Simply saying, two weeks of vacation, food subsidies and a contribution to the provident fund don’t cut it anymore. The equation extends to keeping your employees productive, creative and most importantly, happy.
Yes, it can be difficult to offer everything under the sun, especially if you are a small and growing enterprise. But, not all thank you notes have to be a financial pat on the back.So, today we’ll be looking at –
- Why do employee benefits matter?
- How do employee benefits define your company culture?
- What benefits do the employees want?
- Integrating the benefits with the culture
Let’s dive right in.
Why Do Employee Benefits Matter?
Let’s take Salesforce, for example. If you don’t know who they are, think of them as Fortune 100’s Best Companies to Work For. (And mind you, they’re not lost in the crowd, but sit comfortably at the 2nd position)Salesforce Employee Benefits:
- discounts of up to 15% on services for fitness, travel, spa—even dating,
- $270 each month for commuting,
- 100% reimbursement for fees, tuition and books,
- International SOS Services
- Up to $5000 matching gifts for volunteer time and donations.
The company applies a collaborative culture based on the Hawaiian concept of “Ohana”, where families, whether blood-related, adopted or intentional, are bound together with equal responsibility and love. They inculcate this idea through an inclusive environment by setting up a line of unique perks such as discounts, commuter benefits, educational reimbursement, 24-hour travel assistance, international assignments and matching gifts. If it’s not quite evident till now then, employee benefits help with –
- Building your brand image through innovative measures
- Increasing loyalty and company trust
- Boosting focus and productivity with correlated incentives
- Discouraging absenteeism by making employee-centric events
- Attracting the biggest talent from across the globe
BONUS: As per a study conducted by Fractl, 88% of respondents said they would consider better, dental, vision and health insurance when selecting a job.
How Do Employee Benefits Define Your Company Culture?
There is a reason it is called “work-life balance.” An average person ends up spending around 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime. More or less, ten precious years in total. And that’s a conservative estimate. Going forward, these numbers are sure to rise given the blurring lines that work from home is creating. Therefore, it becomes vital that your employees don’t feel an overbearing sense of burden to perform and feel at home even while working. There are six aspects you need to be looking for while setting an example of desirable work culture –
- Purpose: Does the employee believe in your cause?
- Opportunity: Do they have enough space to learn and grow?
- Appreciation: How does your company distinguish the outliers?
- Success: Are innovation and creativity awarded well?
- Well-being: Are you considering the physical and mental health of your employees?
- Leadership: How well are all the rungs of the hierarchy ladder connected?
As you may have noted, each of the facets is irrevocably related to employee engagement, recognition, and benefits. Since engagement and recognition are only experienced once someone is within the organization, it goes without saying that employee benefits may be the dealbreaker for your prospects.
What Benefits Do the Employees Want?
I hope it is clear that throwing money at your people might be a solution, but it isn’t a permanent one. So, let’s look at the perks that might actually matter in the long run.
1. Group Health Insurance
Yes, a group health insurance policy also known as group medical insurance is the most standard benefit of all and is, in fact, the base expectation from any and all organizations. In fact, after covid in India, a basic employee-only group health insurance policy in India is no longer a privilege but a necessity considered mandatory by the govt. of India. But, here is the catch.
Does your group health insurance actually work when your employees need it? A good place to jump would be to ask around and then implement a strategy that ensures seamless group health insurance coverage for your employees during any medical emergency.
2. Flexible Hours
If you think that work from home gives you enough space already, then think again. Between managing the house, making up the meals, coordinating with the family and finding a quiet space for meetings, most people end up finishing their day with not even half the work done. Result: Extended hours with no pay. A quick way out of this would be to shatter the 9 to 5 ideologies and planning ahead to give your people the time they need.
3. Four Day Work Week
Microsoft Japan tested a 4-day work week and saw their productivity increase by 40%. It essentially made the employees take less time off, print fewer pages, and be happier with the company. While this may not look like a realistic idea right away, a little experimentation can be the first step in that direction. Plus, if there is anything that an employee appreciates, it’s paid leaves and vacation days. You may even rise up the news ranks for taking a step outside the box.
4. Fitness Perks
A healthier staff would definitely mean lower healthcare costs for you. So, instead of just sending out the annual “We Care For You.” emailer, how about creating diet or fitness challenges to keep up the spirits? It is a low cost - high reward opportunity to lure in the current and upcoming talent in the industry. Furthermore, with gyms and recreation centres at a precipice right now, you may even be able to bring a personalized touch.
5. Tax-saving employee benefits
Did you know that in the financial year 2020-21, an average of 8.1cr+ Indians paid their income taxes? Out of these, a vast majority are salaried individuals. As employers, you can offer certain tax-saving employee benefits solutions to your employees.
A classic example of this would be offering food wallets to employees.
Now how does this work? As per the Income Tax Act Section 17(2)(viii) food allowance, up to Rs 50/meal is exempted from taxes during working hours. For 2 meals a day and 22 working days in a month, it becomes Rs. 2200/month. In a year Rs 26,400 can be saved from taxes annually.
6. Other group insurance plans
Yes, we spoke about group health insurance and how the insurance experience can be made better. Here is the thing, as employers you can also choose to offer insurance policies like group term insurance and group personal accident insurance policy. This not only helps your employees but also their families during mishaps like unfortunate death of the employee, or disablement of the employee.
Integrating Benefits with Culture
The goal here is to find the vision and then go for a bottom-up approach to devise the benefit. For instance once you begin to review your company policies and the hiring process, you might find some gaps that can be filled without going out of your way. At the end of the day, a long term view shall be the cornerstone for everything you do around employee benefits and employee wellness programs. With a healthier culture, sustainable environment and a motivated workforce, the sky can indeed be the limit.