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The 7 Most Valued Employee Benefits In 2019

Business owners and CEOs are more challenged than ever when it comes to retaining millennials.

According to Forbes, 89 percent of millennials prefer generous benefits over salary increases. Eighty-three percent wouldn’t hesitate to leave one employer for a competitor who offers better benefits.

Benefit packages are evolving right along with the modern workforce. Companies are scrambling to offer customized perks and a wider range of options. The job seekers of 2019 desire these seven benefits above all others.

1. Medical Benefits.

Health care perks aren’t likely to go out of style any time soon. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that coverage costs topped $3.5 trillion in 2017. Annual pay raises are often considerably less than rising premiums.

Employers can’t hope to compete if they don’t offer medical, dental, and vision coverage, but many go far beyond that to entice top millennial talent. Some pay 100 percent of the cost. Others throw in pet insurance.

Perks that were unheard of not too long ago are becoming commonplace. Examples include immediate coverage upon hire, comprehensive on-site health services, and fertility assistance.

At the very least, employees expect higher contributions to their tax-advantaged health savings accounts.

2. Mental Health Support.

Issues like depression, insomnia, and anxiety affect more than 18 percent of American adults every year. They impact employee performance. They can also go hand in hand with substance abuse. They cost U.S. businesses between $80 – 100 billion a year.

Fortunately, growing awareness is driving long-needed change.

Employer-sponsored stress management programs are no longer unusual. Some companies have employee assistance programs, or EAPs, run by third-party administrators.

These work-based programs support employees through marital, financial, or professional struggles as well as crises related to substance abuse.

Company outings, team-building events, and catered lunches promote social engagement. Productivity, retention rates, and morale improve as a result.

3. Work-Life Balance Benefits.

The concept of keeping your career and personal life separate is a dated one. Millennials seek a workplace that seamlessly integrates with their lifestyle.

Employers lure them with airy open floor plans, ergonomic furniture, and designer coffee in fully stocked kitchens. Other perks include free yoga classes, gym memberships, and transportation passes.

Many companies offer on-site childcare and lactation rooms for nursing.

The most popular lifestyle benefit by far is the work-from-home option.

These perks may sound downright crazy to retired baby boomers who packed a bologna sandwich and put in eight structured hours every day.

However, a laid-back culture has advantages for employers too. Great employees stick around. Productivity increases. Absenteeism is low, and morale couldn’t be better.

Encouraging work-life balance attracts top talent and boosts the bottom line.

4. Student Loan Assistance.

U.S. student debt is at an all-time high. Borrowers who graduated in 2017 owe $28,650 on average.

Smart employers dangle student loan repayment as a benefit. Some match loan payments with contributions to the employee’s work-sponsored retirement account. Others refer borrowers to income-based repayment plans or organizations that can help with refinancing or debt consolidation.

If the recently proposed Employer Participation in Repayment Act is passed, employers will be allowed to make tax-free contributions totaling up to $5,250 toward a worker’s student loan debt.

5. Education Assistance.

There are also perks for employees who are still enrolled in school part-time or who hope to continue their education.

Tuition reimbursement, discounts to online courses, and free language classes are on the rise.

Companies that offer these see the benefit of developing the leaders of the future. Employees who grow their skillset and knowledge also increase their value to the company.

6. Wellness Programs.

Staying fit doesn’t just keep workers looking and feeling their best. It heightens focus, improves cognitive skills, and boosts energy levels.

Millennial job candidates love wellness programs, and there are endless possibilities.

Offer an on-site gym, exercise classes, nutritional seminars, or a smoking cessation program. Schedule a mobile clinic to check blood pressure or administer flu shots. Organize teams for local sports leagues.

Services like Snacknation keep the break room stocked with wholesome snacking alternatives.

7. More Time Off.

Life is nothing if not eventful, and some major events deserve an employee’s full attention.

A family needs plenty of bonding time with a newborn. Workers mourning the loss of a loved one aren’t at their best. There’s nothing more stressful than caring for aging parents with mounting health problems.

In short, life is full of interruptions both joyous and heartbreaking. Employers should respond with flexible schedules, generous time off, and lots of understanding.

Some employees are simply asking for fewer hours, a shorter workweek, or more days to work remotely.

Accommodate them. Workers who are given ample time to enjoy a honeymoon or process grief don’t resent coming back to work. They feel refreshed and productive. They become loyal, engaged employees who know that the boss has their back.

Everybody Wins.

When employees leave, it costs roughly a third of their annual pay to replace them. Employers who do the math quickly see that keeping their workers happy is more advantageous than skimping on benefits.

It’s not just about money though. A business full of contented, productive employees is destined to go places.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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