5 myths about employee benefits packages

5 myths about employee benefits packages

Providing for ourselves and loved ones is one of many motivations to get up and go to work — a globally shared sentiment. While that motivation may be what attracts potential applicants to an employer’s door, it won’t be enough to retain employees unless we consider what benefits packages could look like without breaking the company bank.

Here are five myths that, if addressed, can refresh an employer’s offerings and, hopefully, provide added value all around.

Myth No. 1: Everyone wants a gym membership. Or so you think. Take the time to find out what benefits are right for your employees by identifying the concerns that keep them up at night. You may find that the complimentary flu shot you’ve been providing every year (although considerate) isn’t what’s top of mind for your employee base, but how they’re going to pay the extra costs for out-of-network healthcare is.

Customization is critical and a shared employee phenomenon across markets. According to MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends Studies (EBTS), having benefits customized to meet employee needs would increase their loyalty to their employer. So while offering free lunch in the office is a nice to have, your employees may be willing to forego that perk for a benefit that is more appropriate for their lifestyles.

Myth No. 2: The biggest benefit is salary. While salary is important, it’s only one factor influencing satisfaction in the workplace and overall retention. Harvard Business Review cites that 80% of employees would choose additional benefits over a pay raise. Employees are increasingly looking for employers who offer holistic benefits packages — which include perks such as flexible working arrangements, increased vacation time and voluntary benefit options — to determine who they want to work for and for how long.

Myth No. 3: Additional benefits are too expensive for employees. MetLife’s global EBTS indicate that across markets, the number of employees who want employers to provide a wider array of voluntary benefits — those that they can choose to pay for on their own — is more than half (55%). It seems that employees are willing to shell out extra money for voluntary benefit options that meet their specific needs, such as critical illness insurance, voluntary legal plans, and hospital indemnity coverage, to name a few. This indicates a global trend of employees pitching in to help address their own benefits needs.

Myth No. 4: There is no return on investment. Employees don’t leave their stresses at the office door. The ups and downs of their personal lives, their mental and physical health, and the worries which preoccupy their thoughts affect whether they bring 100% of themselves to work and directly impact the potential for absenteeism and presenteeism. According to a report commissioned by MAXIS Global Benefits Network, employee stress decreases productivity in the workplace and increases health insurance costs.

The truth is, providing customized benefits and protection in a manner that’s right for your employees — whether it be financial wellness education, voluntary benefits, coaching, extra sick leave or health education — impacts how your employees will perform while on the job. There can be benefits in the form of retention and engagement. Additionally, you may find your employees serving as better company ambassadors.

Myth No. 5: My employees know we provide great benefits. Do they? While employees have a general idea of the benefits they use most often (medical, dental or vision), they don’t always grasp the value or need for some of the other benefits which may be available to them (disability or accident insurance, for example). Additionally, you may be offering benefits employees only learned about when they first joined the company, say, five to six years ago, but haven’t followed up on since (the long forgotten tuition reimbursement program or the tele-health capability your HR team is able to offer).

Regular education around how to use benefits and communicating the long-term value of available benefits is an employer’s responsibility. You can have employees undergo a “benefits check-up” prior to open enrollment periods or host a “benefits fair” which reviews what exists in their plan and what’s to come.

You may also try to reimagine how employees access all available benefits throughout the year. Housing different content on multiple channels may cause confusion and can be a deterrent. Create a one-stop shop on your company intranet or a microsite for benefits information, or tap a well-known, accessible HR rep to be a benefits ambassador, one who employees are comfortable contacting for accurate and timely information. No one gains by keeping available benefits a secret.