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Employee Benefits for the Modern Age

Updated: May 21

By George Waggott, founder, and Roberto Fonseca-Velazquez, summer law student, George Waggott Law

As the workplace is evolving, the employee benefits offered by employers will also need to change to both retain and attract talent. The reasons for this extend beyond the changes to the workplace that arose as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and includes factors such as the increased presence of Gen- Z in the workforce, the desire for social change, and an increased emphasis on the employee voice. Employee benefits continue to include the traditional features of a group benefits plan, such as healthcare, dental, vision, car allowance, cell phone allowance and so on. But less traditional benefits are rising in importance in large part driven by the shift in workplace composition.

Gen Z In the Workforce

Data from a Forbes study shows that by 2025 Gen-Z workers will make up 27% of the

workforce.  As more Baby Boomers exit the workforce and more Gen-Z members enter, organizations must shift and provide benefits that meet the expectations of the new generation of workers. Most of the evidence for generational differences in preferences and values suggests that the differences between these groups are quite small yet still require attention. Most workers, regardless of generation, will still look for happiness, fulfillment, appreciation, and security in a career, but the way these desires are manifested in practice may look a little bit different. For example, one survey reported that 63% of Gen-Z members think that using an employee engagement and productivity platform could help their company improve the company’s culture, employee communications, inclusivity, and training and development efforts. This means that for a modern organization seeking to attract and retain Gen Z talent, having an employee engagement and productivity platform will be perceived as a significant selling point by young workers.

Social Change

According to research by Benefits Pro, more employees want to work for companies that share their values, are flexible and transparent, enact purpose-driven initiatives, and engage on social and political issues that are important to them. With this in mind, organizations should incorporate a sensitivity to current social issues into employee benefits. Some examples may include providing employees with a paid day on which they volunteer their time or work on workplace initiatives that give back to the community.

Another subset of social change is the importance of providing employees with the benefit of a tangible diversity, equity and inclusion strategy. The development and promotion

of this strategy will be seen as a valuable recruitment tool but also as a useful benefit to use for employee retention. Among Gen-Z workers surveyed in a study published by Forbes, 69% stated that they would “absolutely” be more likely to apply to a job at a company that emphasized a racially and ethnically diverse workplace in recruitment materials.

Employee Voice

The employee voice is becoming more relevant, and organizations stand to benefit from engaging in dialogue with it. A way to elevate the employee voice is to offer employee benefits using an “a la carte” model.  This can involve employers rolling out a range of various perks (from fitness, to therapy, to childcare offerings) and allowing employees to select those that best meet their needs, based on a budget or points system. Sustained hybrid work combined with popular demand at the employee level will likely soon see this cafeteria-style approach extend beyond lifestyle and wellness perks to more fundamental benefits like health care insurance, dental insurance, and retirement plans.

Another important benefit that caters to the employee voice is providing employees with

appropriate channels in which to communicate with each other and with management. This may mean providing a new technology suite to make communication more streamlined. Or it could mean providing new or updated HR software that allows employees to share feedback anonymously.

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