What do employees want in an employee benefits package?

While most still want healthcare coverage, retirement contributions and paid-time off, employees are looking for help with new challenges, such as student loan debt and balancing their always-connected work life with their home life. As important, they are seeking a broader range of health and wellness benefits to support their families and active lifestyles.

Across California, employers are partnering with their brokers to develop innovative benefit programs to compete successfully for talent in today’s full-employment economy, while keeping employees motivated and happy.

Student Loan Debt Relief

A student loan repayment benefit is one the newest – and most prized – benefits for Millennials, as well as parents financing a college education for a child.

According to a study commissioned by Gradifi, a provider of student loan debt repayment programs for employers, 90% of those with outstanding student loan debt said a student loan repayment benefit would positively impact their decision to accept a job offer, to recommend an employer or to stay at their current employer.

Eight in 10 people with student loan debt said it is a significant source of stress. Fifty-eight percent of those with outstanding student loan debt said they prefer their employer help them pay down their student debt rather than make additional contributions to their retirement savings.

Employers with a student loan repayment benefit can make a significant financial and emotional difference in the lives of employees. For a loan of $26,500 – the median amount borrowed for a bachelor’s degree – a $100 per month employer contribution would save over $10,000 in principal and interest over 10 years for a loan with a 4% interest rate. The loan would be paid off three years earlier as a result.

Family Benefits

More employees are investing in their careers at an earlier age, placing priority on professional achievement over other personal milestones, like having kids. When they do focus on starting a family, many are looking for assistance from their employers.

High on the list of important new benefits are fertility treatments, which can be very expensive. To offset that cost, some employers are offering fertility treatments through a direct reimbursement model. Employees receive an allotted amount to spend on fertility treatments – egg freezing, IVF, IUI.

Another popular benefit is adoption assistance. Because the process can be so difficult and costly, employers are offering direct reimbursement programs for qualifying expenses. Some of the expenses include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses and other expenses incurred in the legal adoption of a child.

Supporting Caregivers

Women are the majority of the caregivers and approximately two-thirds miss work or take unpaid leave. Each caregiver costs a company $2,000 per year in lost productivity, according to AARP. Mothers are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce.

Recognizing that more support is needed beyond paid maternity/paternity leave, employers are providing programs to help employees care for family members.

Among them are on-site day care or subsidized childcare service; on-site nursing/mother rooms; food delivery service for parents who are traveling or staying late; work-from-home and flexible schedules; and financial coaching and budgeting assistance, including short-term loans repaid through payroll deductions.

Health and Wellness

Wellness is another key priority, and employers have taken notice to expand their offerings. Because many workers today work long hours and are always connected, managing stress and work-life balance are critical.

Employers are providing on-site medical clinics for health check-ups or flu shots; telemedicine offerings; free same-day prescription delivery; onsite therapists and massages; and spaces where employees can take a mental break – sleep pods, relaxation rooms, and game and arcade rooms.

In terms of making life easier, employers are also providing on-site or pick-up laundry service, free meals, healthy snacks, and grocery delivery services. Progressive employers realize that healthier and refreshed employees are more productive.

Employers who offer employee benefit programs that match the needs of today’s workers not only have an advantage in competing for talent in today’s marketplace. They also create happy, loyal employees who help recruit others to the team.

Learn how Marsh & McLennan Agency can help you put together an employee benefits program to differentiate your company to attract and retain talent.

Brian Hegarty is a Principal and Managing Director of the L.A. office at Marsh & McLennan Agency (MMA). Brian specializes in employee benefits programs for mid-size to large companies, working closely with many leading L.A. industries such as technology, entertainment, apparel, and hospitality, among others.

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