What Benefits Are Employees Most Thankful For in 2017?

What Benefits Are Employees Most Thankful For in 2017?

When people are asked what they're most thankful for, their job – or, at least, the fact that they have one – is typically part of their answer. And with U.S. unemployment currently hovering around record-low rates, more Americans than usual will be sharing that sentiment this Thanksgiving.1

But, because wages have remained fairly flat in recent years, the value of employment – and thus, the appreciation people give it – has become increasingly more tied to workplace benefits. In fact, 58 percent of employees today say they'd be willing to take a job with slightly lower pay but a more robust benefits package.2

Just what are they looking for in that benefits package? Marketing agency Fractl asked a bunch of people that for a study called The Cost of Employee Happiness.3 Based on the results, here are the benefits that employees will be giving the most thanks for tomorrow.

Health, Dental & Vision

Not surprisingly, the traditional core benefit offerings, which typically carry the highest monetary value, are at the top of the rankings.

According to Fractl, 88 percent of employees give significant consideration to health, dental and vision insurance benefits when evaluating a potential job.

Naturally, employees want to have a lot of coverage for not a lot of money when it comes to these benefits. But as you may know all too well, particularly with respect to health insurance, that's gotten harder and harder for employers to provide.

Due to ever-growing health care costs, many group medical plans have significantly increased the share of costs employees must bear for their utilization. But employers must balance the need to control costs with the need to keep employees satisfied with their benefits, or else put talent attraction and retention at risk.

Thankfully, tools exist to help employers strike this balance.

Employers can take advantage of benefits data analytics to evaluate the performance of their health plan—how employees are using it, what's driving costs, where any coverage gaps exist, etc. With in-depth, on-demand transparency into this information, employers can make sure they're offering the right plans, with the right level of cost-sharing, for their organization.

Learn more about how you can turn your benefits data into strategic decisions in this on-demand webinar!

Flexible Work Options & Time Off

The next items on Fractl's list illustrate the value today's employees place on work-life balance.

Flexible hours, more vacation time, the ability to work from home and unlimited vacation are all top-of-mind benefits for greater than 75 percent of employees.

It's been well documented how taking vacation makes employees more productive when they're at work.4 Many employers have embraced this idea, with companies like General Electric, LinkedIn and Netflix making headlines for their unlimited paid-time-off (PTO) offerings. While there is some debate as to whether highly generous PTO programs encourage or actually discourage employees from actually taking their time,5 there's no doubt that these offerings are very attractive to employees who currently don't have such flexibility.

The desire to be able to work from home or outside of the traditional "nine-to-five" also speaks to this idea of adapting work to fit employees' lifestyles. The thought here being that, if employees can get all their work done, and get it done right, what difference does it make if they're at home, or in another state, or working at 11 o'clock at night?"

Obviously, not every job, company or industry lends itself to such flexibility. But the underlying concept can apply to everyone on some level: making it easier for employees to "do business" with their employer. Your employees are busy, on-the-go people, and you've got to meet them where they are. That's why having a strong mobile presence for your benefits program is so important.

Being able to engage employees on their smartphones or tablets, putting all their benefits information just a couple of swipes away, making enrollment and life event changes as easy as ordering a ride-share service—allows you to provide a benefits experience any employee would give thanks for.

See the power of mobile-first benefits technology in action!

Student Loan Assistance

It's no secret that the single greatest source of stress for employees is financial stress. And since student loan debt is oftentimes the primary antagonist, it makes sense that Fractl lists student loan benefits as a top consideration for nearly 50 percent of employees.

According to FICO, average student loan debt has doubled over the last decade, and total student loan debt increases $2,700 every second.6 Many would call it an epidemic.

Student loan debt education, consolidation and repayment are becoming crucial components of benefit offerings for organizations looking to recruit and retain top performers. With the burden of student loan debt lightened, employees can not only be more engaged and productive at work, but also able to afford to invest more in their long-term financial security.

Learn more about ways to foster employee financial wellness in this on-demand webinar.

1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Aflac Workforces Report

3. Fractl: The Cost of Employee Happiness

4. Project: Time Off

5. Fortune: Why Unlimited Vacation May Sound Better Than It Really Is

6. FICO Research: Student Loan Explosion Hurts Other Borrowing