The average person spends more than 40 hours a week at work. Accordingly, it’s important that they love their job. An important factor you, as an employer, should consider? Employee benefits. Many researchers say that it can be more valuable than one’s income.

In a previous blog, we covered reasons why employee perks programs are so necessary. Today, we explore benefits programs considered most important by employees.

Healthcare

This is one of the most common types of employee benefits, and yet, is not a universally provided coverage. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “Retirement and medical care benefits were available to 70% of civilian workers.” Nearly a third of workers in the United States do not receive any kind of health insurance.

Granted, the federal government states that you do not need to provide health insurance if you have between 1 and 50 full-time employees.

However, the demand for excellent health insurance is extraordinarily high. Being ill or injured is worrisome enough, but feeling like you can’t afford to get well or get the help you need adds even more pressure. It comes as no surprise that the majority of the country wants healthcare. It adds a source of security and relief in the event that things go wrong.

Vacation

Like healthcare, vacation days and PTO are highly sought-after. There are many benefits to offering vacation time.

The average number of PTO days received by workers in the United States is 10. Almost one-fourth of the country’s workers do not receive any paid vacation time. In fact, a study found that “the U.S. is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacations.” Most countries in Europe, by comparison,  require companies provide at least 20 paid days per year.

Many experts agree that vacation is highly beneficial to both the employee and the employer itself. People tend to be more productive. They experience positive impacts to their mental and physical well-being. The switch in the U.S. is gradually beginning to take place, as more and more companies are starting to offer unlimited PTO. This trust in their employees and encouragement to live their life outside of the office has become an extraordinarily sought-after benefit.

Shorter Work Weeks

In addition to paid time off, some employers are simply shortening everyone’s work weeks. The World Wildlife Fund, for example, provides what’s called “Panda Fridays” for their employees, in which everyone takes Friday off every other week. On Glassdoor, they, unsurprisingly, have a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Student Loan Forgiveness

The situation with student loans in the United States is less of a situation and more of a crisis. The overall debt currently sits at $1.2 trillion. Graduates desperately seek debt relief. $1.2 trillion, Many companies have begun to respond to this by offering student loan forgiveness.

The financial magnate Forbes described student loan forgiveness as “the hottest employee benefit of 2017.” Big name companies such as Penguin Random House, Aetna, and Fidelity offer student loan forgiveness to their employees. Oftentimes, they offer a matched payment up to a certain amount — but as anyone with student loans knows, this is exponentially better than nothing at all.

IonTuition is more than happy to help your company set up an exceptional student loan forgiveness program. Our extensive dashboard is complete with a number of loan management tools, including tuition matching like you would a 401(k).

Commuter Benefits

Commuting, especially driving, is one of the most common ways that most people get to work each day. As we know, this has a pretty negative impact on the environment, as everyone’s vehicles distribute harmful emissions to the atmosphere. Many employers, striving to be more eco-friendly, have begun offering benefits to their employees to encourage leaving the car at home.

At the very least, there are tax breaks that can be offered by riding bikes or relying on public transportation to get to and from work. Some companies have stepped up further, offering their employees public transportation passes, or even paying them to carpool. This incentive makes it easier than ever for employees to choose alternative modes of transportation, all while positively impacting the environment.

Fitness Initiatives

In addition to being environmentally conscious, more people are becoming health conscious Employers have taken notice, and are increasingly offering opportunities to help them do so. One way to do is this is to offer a company gym for employees. A number of companies even feature fitness classes or personal training.

But the fitness fun doesn’t stop there. Companies like Burton, a renowned supplier of winter sport gear, give their employees free ski passes, as well as “snow days” to go enjoy the slopes after a fresh snowfall. Additionally, REI gives employees two paid days off to specifically go outside and enjoy their favorite outdoor pastime.

Paid Vacations

As we mentioned, many companies offer paid vacation time. Some companies, however, are going above and beyond by actually paying their employees for their vacations. Here are a few examples:

  • Epic Systems Corporation in Verona, Wisconsin (just outside the capital city of Madison), has quite the incentive for employees to stay. After five years at the company, employees get a four-week paid sabbatical, where they can go wherever or pursue whatever they’re interested in. Not only does this benefit those working at Epic, but it also incentivizes people to stay with the company — curtailing turnover rates in the process.
  • Airbnb (also voted the Best Place to Work in 2016) gives a stipend every year to their employees of $2,000 to travel anywhere in the world. Of course, the added motivation is that they stay in an Airbnb of their choice. It’d be pretty difficult to leave a company that encourages so much vacation and travel. This perk is definitely worth  bringing into your own company!

Pursuing Creative Interests

Additionally, some businesses like to include opportunities for people to enjoy and pursue their creative interests. Employers often think that by inspiring some creative juices, productivity and imaginative ideas will present themselves at work as well. Evernote, for example, provides classes for their team to try and enjoy. Twitter also provides things like improv classes for employees to exercise their creativity. Cloud communications platform Twilio gives each employee a Kindle, as well as $30 to spend on downloading books.

These types of classes or opportunities can not only serve to inspire, but serve as a team-building experience as well. Even with Twilio, book clubs could be formed with ease to help workers connect with their colleagues. Strengthening community in a work environment is yet another example of an underappreciated (but necessary) workplace benefit.

Maternity (and Paternity) Leave

This has become quite the hot topic of employee perks in recent years. Whereas other advanced or developed nations (particularly in Europe) offer months — and even a full year — of paid leave for new parents, the United States is notoriously lacking. In fact, only 12% of civilian employees were granted paid family leave in 2013, putting us 41 countries behind our counterparts. The country who’s in first? Estonia, with 87 paid weeks of family time — over a year and a half.

Additionally, it’s more often than not that new fathers don’t get any time off. This has become highly contested, as fathers (understandably) want to spend time with their newborn as well. Instead, they are still expected to fulfill the role of sole breadwinner.

With this in mind, more and more companies in the United States are beginning to try and meet this demand. Netflix, as one example, gives one paid year of both maternity and paternity leave. It also allows employees to return to work in a variety of capacities (be it full or part-time). Spotify also provides a good amount of time, offering six months paid parental leave. Glassdoor reports that after the six months is up, parents can have flexible work options that make it easy to take time off to meet their child’s needs. Spotify even offers fertility assistance as part of their insurance plans — an extreme rarity when it comes to worker benefits.

Wellness Opportunities

Employers recognize the benefits of providing wellness for their employees. Not only is it just best practice to ensure your workers are doing and feeling well, it also helps your company. Fewer people will take time off of work and be able to get more done when they’re encouraged (and assisted) in making their wellness a priority.

Sometimes this means bringing in a masseuse to give massages to people in the building, or it could even be as simple as offering flexible seating. Certain companies offer chiropractors, spa discounts, or wellness seminars to teach things such as meditation. Twitter goes above and beyond in this form of employee perk, as they have on-site acupuncture available for staff members.

The Endless List of Employee Perks

The number of employee perk programs that exist are seemingly endless, but they all offer immense value to their employees. 80 percent of employees would rather receive better benefits or work perks than a pay raise. Accordingly, it’s absolutely worth considering how you, as an employer, can best meet your workers’ needs.

While you don’t have to go to the lengths of multi-million dollar corporations, it’s imperative to recognize that the right perks make a difference. Providing more for employees will minimize turnover, and you’ll be able to focus your energy on growth.

Offer the Best Employee Benefits With the Help of IonTuition

Fortunately, IonTuition is here to help. We offer incredible ToolKits and packages for your company to take advantage of. These will help your business provide the perks programs that your employees deserve. Your staff works incredibly hard for you — let IonTuition work incredibly hard to help say “thanks.” From IonManage, to IonPay, to IonPerks and so much more, we have the toolkit that will work best for you. Get in touch with our team today to start a free trial, and see what our employee perks programs can do for your business.