A smiling man sits in a group meeting.
Enhanced employee benefits, or "fringe benefits," are non-salary compensation programs offered to employees in addition to the benefits required by law. — Getty Images/ FG Trade

With the "Great Resignation” looming over employers’ heads and politically-charged COVID-19 vaccination issues in the workplace, recruitment and retention remain difficult tasks for HR teams to tackle. One strategy companies are using to improve both is offering enhanced employee benefits.

With nearly one-third of employees saying that comprehensive benefits are as important to them as salary, benefits packages can help attract and keep top talent. Here’s what you need to know about leveraging enhanced employee benefits, or “fringe benefits,” as a recruiting tool.

What are enhanced employee benefits?

Fringe benefits are non-salary compensation programs offered to employees in addition to the benefits required by law. According to a recent survey from Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments, companies have begun expanding benefits in the areas of mental health and emotional well-being, work-life balance, caregiving and financial stability. These are areas that are important to many employees who want both fulfillment and personal boundaries in their professional lives.

How do enhanced employee benefits work as a recruiting tool?

The pandemic caused a mentality shift among many in the workforce. A paycheck and basic benefits were no longer enough; employees sought more flexibility, balance and support from their employers for overall well-being.

This shift forced recruiters to change their approaches to recruitment and retention. According to a Care.com report, 98% of business leaders said they are planning to offer at least one new — or expand on at least one existing — employee benefit. Companies are prioritizing the benefits their employees find to be the most valuable, such as child and senior care benefits, work flexibility and mental health support.

In addition to increasing benefits that prioritize work flexibility and mental health care, 89% of leaders surveyed said they are reprioritizing at least certain employee benefits that weren’t as heavily utilized during COVID-19, like on-site child care, commuter benefits and business meal reimbursement.

[Read more: Top 5 Reasons to Offer Employee Benefits]

Companies that offer enhanced employee benefits could contribute to improvement in the mental and physical health of their employees, which may increase productivity, morale and loyalty. When prospective employees see these benefits actively contributing to the well-being of current employees, they know the company values their staff’s mental and physical well-being.

According to a Care.com report, 98% of business leaders said they are planning to offer at least one new — or expand on at least one existing — employee benefit.

What enhanced benefits could make useful recruiting tools?

Here are some of the types of enhanced employee benefits that HR teams can use as recruiting tools.

Flexible hours

Offering flexible work hours costs nothing for business, yet is attractive to many professionals who want to create their own schedules. Not every employee thrives in a conventional “9-to-5” setting. Giving them the option to complete their work on a flexible schedule not only makes employees feel valued, but also makes them more productive as they’re working when they feel the most efficient.

Permanent remote work options

In a post-pandemic work environment, implementing permanent remote work options may keep employees satisfied and productive. For companies that need their employees in-person at least a few days a week, they can offer a hybrid work schedule so employees go to the office on certain days.

Remote and hybrid work options lets employees tend to pressing family matters more easily and save them time by eliminating a daily commute, ultimately helping create a more ideal work-life balance.

[Read More: How to Develop a Hybrid Office Policy]

Mental health support

Amid the stress of the ongoing pandemic, political unrest and challenging economy, employees are looking to their employers to help support their mental health. Benefits that achieve this can include well-being apps, counseling services and employee assistance programs.

Voluntary benefits

Voluntary benefits are products outside of the standard employer-sponsored health insurance and retirement savings programs that employees primarily pay for out of pocket, but may receive discounts when part of an employer group.

These benefits may include products like pet insurance, life insurance. and accident insurance. Other voluntary benefits may include non-insurance products like identity theft protection services or shopping discount programs. Offering these types of benefits can be an affordable way for employers to expand their total compensation package while adding value to their employees’ lives outside of work.

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