The newest trends in company benefits and perks

The newest trends in company benefits and perks

What do companies like Google, Facebook, Wegman’s and Workday have in common? They’re known as “great places to work,” famous for lavishing employees with eye-popping perks.

But does it pay to invest in generous benefits? What does a company have to do to gain a competitive advantage? And what’s driving the trend toward parental leave replacing free food as the must-have work perk?

To find out, I talked to Michael Marty,’s vice president and general manager of Operations and Business Services. Mike’s Workplace Solutions team partners with corporate clients who offer access to’s digital platform and family care experts as an employer-provided benefit to their employees.

Why the theme of “companies that care” as those that will succeed in 2016?

It’s not a new trend that when companies care about employees it’s good for their workers, their customers, shareholders, and their bottom lines.

There’s definitely momentum building around many of these issues. We’re coming off a year in which we saw company after company — and we’re talking about big names, like Microsoft, Netflix, Virgin — announce expanded parental leave benefits. And then the data continue to show the value employees place on work-life balance and family care benefits, and how this can impact an employer in big ways.

Companies recognized as “Best Places to Work” regularly outperform and deliver better stock returns than competitors. Glassdoor’s chief economist recently reported that despite the flat market in 2015, the site’s 2015 Best Places to Work winners showed share price increases 2.8 times the return of the overall market over the course of the year.

The bottom line is, companies that care aren’t making emotional decisions; taking care of employees is sound business.

What other ways could companies support employees beyond paid maternity/paternity leave?

Elemental to every company that cares is the understanding that employees don’t check their personal and family lives at the door when they come to work. Life doesn’t work like that — and it doesn’t have to.

A Better Benefits survey of employees at Fortune 1000 companies reported that 90 percent of employees have left work, and 30 percent have cut back by more than six hours per week, due to family responsibilities.

So whatever you as an employer are able to do to reduce the friction in your employees’ lives outside of work — whether that’s helping to find a nanny for a newborn or offering flexible hours to allow for a yoga class — that benefit, perk or informal policy will help your employees to be more present, productive, and engaged while they’re at work.

Is the need for elder care support as important for companies to provide as is child care support?

Our population demographics are shifting and the importance of elder care support is growing. Nearly half of adults in their 40s and 50s fall into what we call the ”Sandwich Generation,” meaning they’re providing some level of care for both their children and aging parents.

The number of “sandwiched” employees is only going to increase, considering there are 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day on average and the population of Americans 65 and older is expected to hit 55 million by 2020.

The issue about senior care is that it’s unpredictable, sudden, and wrought with emotion. When you have an employee experiencing an elder care challenge, often he or she is searching for information on what to do, where to find help, and even how to have these difficult conversations with their parents or siblings.

In the face of our looming senior care crisis, the companies that care are the ones who step up and provide more than a standard, reactive Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The good news is, we are seeing a growing trend, according to data from the Families and Work Institute, of companies who are beginning to offer elder care assistance benefits.

What can smaller companies do to support their workforce if they cannot match what larger companies are doing?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to be a company that cares. What’s really important is to consult with your employees to evaluate their requests and use the data to inform the decisions you make about how to have the most impact with your investments in employee benefits and work-life initiatives.

And technology is giving companies of all sizes a lot of options for creating flexible, scalable solutions for taking care of employees. For example, you might not be able to afford to subsidize an on-site child care center, but it could be within your budget to provide a technology-driven resource and referral option that would meet the same basic needs.

How much impact does the millennial generation have on these evolving benefits?

The concepts behind these benefits have been around for a while now. But with millennials, who are now the largest workforce demographic, we’re seeing employee benefits and work-life initiatives pushed to new levels. Everything from the way millennials look at families to the way they communicate is influencing not only our benefits plans but the way we work.

For years, it was all about what we as employers did to attract and retain millennial talent. But now, as the oldest millennials are hitting their mid-30s and attaining leadership positions, we can expect millennials to start exerting their influence from positions of power.


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