Whether you’re a long-time employee, or seeking a new job, of course you want job satisfaction, but, even more importantly, you need to ensure you have good benefits or “bennies” as they are often referred to.  While health insurance, disability insurance, and life insurance packages provided to employees are fairly standard, employee benefits for financial perks are also attractive, no matter the age of the employee.

Traditional benefits

Employers who are savvy provide plenty of incentives to their employees to keep them aboard.  By offering a compensation package of the most sought-after benefits, they’ll lure the best workers.  Traditional benefits like adequate paid time off (“PTO”) and sick days are always appreciated and pretty standard as benefits go.  Likewise group health insurance is always a draw, especially with a lower deductible, less co-pay amounts and good prescription coverage.  Add the ability to have a flexible spending account (“FSA”) for your health insurance and employees will say “now you’re talkin’”.

Those long-term benefits are the biggest draw.  A 401(k) retirement plan or profit-sharing plan is always welcome, especially for those who have difficulty socking away some of their paycheck to plan for the future.  When employers match dollar-for-dollar what their employees elect to have withdrawn from their paycheck for long-term savings plans, you are guaranteed happier employees.

Some highlights of traditional benefits

Financial benefits

  • Traditional 401(k) plan – This is the most-common company-sponsored retirement plan. Employees may save money for retirement through pre-tax dollars and Roth 401(k) contributions.  The plus is that taxes are deferred until the employee wishes to withdraw funds.
  • Profit sharing – Another plus for employees is when the company’s profits are divided amongst employees. These business profitability contributions may be discretionary based on the company’s yield that year and are allocated using a variety of methods.
  • Stock options – Another popular way that companies woo potential employees, or keep their existing employees, is through stock options. Employee Stock Ownership Plans (“ESOPs”) are a means for a business to sell shares in that business, and permit qualified employees to become recipients of shares of stock.   Because the ESOP is funded with pre-tax dollars, the company’s tax savings may increase even further.

Insurance benefits

  • Group Health Insurance
    As mentioned above, with the high price of healthcare, providing adequate healthcare benefits is a valuable incentive to attract and keep good workers and is always appreciated by the workforce. Group insurance can cover as little as two employees and their families (if that is applicable).  A good health insurance plan would include medical, optical and dental, plus additionally encompasses short-term and long-term disability insurance.  There is even life insurance in some instances.
  • Flexible Spending Account (“FSA”)
    This plan permits employees to pay for certain benefits on a pre-tax basis. Putting an FSA into place allows the employee to designate a portion of their pre-tax salary to be deposited into a special account.  This money may be used for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses not covered by the routine healthcare insurance plan.

Trends in employee benefits packages

Most everyone has heard how Google’s high-tech employees not only have great traditional employee benefits packages, but the on-site benefits from just showing up to work are spectacular as well.  Please don’t expect to find such perks as on-site hairdressers and doctors (including chiropractors and therapists), stress relievers such as lap pools and three full healthy meals per day plus snacks at just any old company.  Google strives mightily to keep their employees happy and on board for a very long time.

The newest members of the workforce, the millennials, have a totally different concept of what traditional benefits they desire in the workplace.  It is widely known that millennials (the nation’s workers whose birth year ranges from the early 1980s to early 2000s) are not the traditional type of tie-and-button-down-shirt employee you might be accustomed to.  This Generation “Y” workforce likes casual Fridays, the open-office concept rather than a “cube farm” and/or telecommuting.  They are also not as loyal and devoted to their employer, opting to work a few years, then leave for greener pastures and repeating that process until they feel they have a job worthy of them.

Yup, millennials are not your traditional employee, but they comprise a growing part of the workforce and will continue to be a force to reckon with down the road.

Traditional employee benefits

While millennials tend to eschew the more traditional health insurance benefits in favor of health benefit programs, it is important to the majority of employees in the workforce that they have good benefits in place.  Healthcare costs are rising all the time, so, while a good wage is always important to a job seeker, it also behooves you to have good benefits in place, and if the employer is willing to provide those benefits, of course, they will reap their own benefits, i.e. obtaining top-of-the-line employees.

But, despite the availability of low-cost healthcare options, most of the nation’s employers plan to change their full-time employee health benefit programs down the line.  Some of the unusual and innovative options employers may use to deliver top employee care will be to focus on individual employee well-being.  To focus on keeping an employee healthy reaps benefits in the long term – better attendance and longevity for the employee as well as their ability to continue to be an asset to the employer by virtue of living a long and healthy life.  Employers going forward will focus on creating a  healthy work environment.  In the past, this might mean having a nurse come to the workplace to administer the yearly flu vaccine.  But today, the healthy work environment also incorporates the idea of a “healthy workplace” that is better for its employees mentally, as well as physically.  Employers are now striving to ensure the work environment is free from negativity such as gossip or bullying… these are big stressors in today’s workplace, and also to encourage “positive peer relationships” so that employees come to work happy and go home happy.  The “open door policy” where any employee should feel free to bypass their immediate boss and/or supervisor and take their workplace troubles directly to the top of the workplace hierarchy is also commonplace.  More and more, employers are inviting the workforce to provide feedback and suggestions to them and they listen with rapt attention on how to create a near-perfect work environment.

Other considerations

The economic recession sadly caused many employers to re-tool their benefit packages.  In some instances, employees had to significantly re-tool their personal budgets to perhaps accommodate insurance premium payments.  There are certain employees, which, out of loyalty for to their employer, elected not to look for greener pastures, and have “stuck it out”, but are paying for items, just taken for granted before, but now out of their own pocket.  There are so many insurance plans available, and, if you’ve not taken the time, nor have the inclination, to scope them out, why not consult with an agent at an insurance company in Short Hills, New Jersey to see what is “out there” and maybe to keep your adequate coverage.