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Article

8 min read

How to Leverage US Employee Benefits Trends to Shape Competitive Packages

PEO

Author

Shannon Hodgen

Published

May 02, 2024

Last Update

June 27, 2024

Table of Contents

Embracing remote and flexible work options

Mental health programs

Wellness programs

More accessible and inclusive coverage

Financial wellness and support

Innovative parental and caregiver support

Upskilling and re-skilling opportunities

Personalized and inclusive benefits programs

The best way to source employee benefit ideas: Just ask

Simplify US benefits management with Deel PEO

Key takeaways
  1. In 2024, almost half of US workers feel the current benefits package offered by their employer is inadequate.
  2. Employers can increase employee satisfaction, retention, and attraction by enhancing their offerings with mental health programs, flexible work options, caregiver support, and more.
  3. With Deel PEO, US companies can simplify benefits administration—as well as payroll, HR tasks, and compliance—so they can focus on their team and growth.

These days, job applicants are looking for more than just the paycheck to draw them in. The benefits package, including in-kind benefits and financial incentives, has become a major contributor to the recruitment toolkit. Applicants still ask, “How much will I make?” but they also want to know, “How will this workplace improve my life?”

Employee benefits in the US are undergoing transformation due to economic shifts and evolving workforce expectations. NFP’s US Benefits Trend Report for 2024 highlighted the unfortunate truth that 42% of workers feel their current benefits package is inadequate.

Companies need to offer more attractive benefits packages that are financially sustainable. This article aims to explore current trends in employee benefits and provide actionable strategies to help you implement cost-effective yet competitive packages.

Embracing remote and flexible work options

Since the shift towards remote work, many companies continue to support remote or hybrid work arrangements. In fact, it has become a standard expectation among many employees. 

This flexibility is not just a perk but a strategic benefit that can reduce overhead costs while boosting employee satisfaction. For example, remote work options can lead to savings on real estate and operational expenses, which can be substantial.

“Flexibility and the possibility to choose are key, whether people want to work from home or go to an office or a coworking space,” said Colby Splaine, Deel’s Senior Program Manager of People Development in our recent webinar on the future of work.

This trend highlights the importance of flexible work arrangements in today's job market. However, it should be noted that remote working can disadvantage employees with young children, and workers from minority communities, who may lack quiet spaces to work, childcare, or a reliable home broadband supply. Employers can support these workers—and ensure everyone has equitable access to a quiet, yet connected, place to work—by offering access to workspaces as a perk.

Flexible working hours are another way to offer more desirable working lives. According to Workable’s 2023 New World of Work Survey, 58% of US workers consider flexible hours important and 45% of businesses have implemented staggered office hours post-COVID. You may benefit from having employees who would prefer to start at 7 a.m., while others work between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

While this is not a workable offering for all businesses, it’s certainly worth considering and may offer significant benefits to employees with carer responsibilities or those with health needs that require frequent specialized appointments.

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Mental health programs

With an increasing recognition of mental health importance, more companies are integrating comprehensive mental health programs into their benefits offerings. 

This is a well-timed move, since workplace stress, financial insecurity, and political upheaval are all contributing to a “perfect storm” for some employees. 

"Investing in mental health is essential for a healthy, engaged workforce," says Mariah Hantis,
Senior Director, Total Rewards, Payments, and People Operations at Deel. "Offering mental health programs, such as an EAP and comprehensive insurance coverage send a powerful message that employee well-being is a top priority."

How prevalent is poor mental health among employees? Between 29% and 33% of employees have consistently reported poor mental health since 2020. “Holistic health,” a measure of employees’ perceptions of their own mental, physical, financial, and social health, is considered adequate by only 44% of workers and just 37% of Gen-Z employees.

Mental health programs, therefore, should take a holistic approach, considering all aspects of an employee’s well-being. Such programs often include access to counseling services, as well as apps that offer meditation and relaxation techniques. 

By partnering with online platforms and organizing group wellness sessions, you can provide affordable mental health support that helps bond your team and increases morale.

The ROI for mental health programs is evident in reduced absenteeism and enhanced productivity. As employees feel more supported in their mental health, their overall engagement and output improve, creating a healthier workplace environment. 

Wellness programs

The CIPD’s 2023 Health and Wellbeing at Work survey found that “Many [companies] are investing considerable resources in employee wellbeing but are not fully realizing the benefits. More will realize a greater return on their investment if they take a systematic and preventative approach.”

So, what would such an approach look like?

It should take into consideration both physical and mental health, financial health, interpersonal relationships, and the provision of meaningful work that provides job satisfaction. It might include provisioning the following:

  • Gym or sports club membership
  • Office yoga or meditation classes
  • Employee voice programs or mentoring
  • Financial advice or debt counseling
  • Flexible working policies
  • Stress management
  • Adjustments for better work-life balance

All the above were highlighted in the CIPD report as important elements in the health and wellness programs of the companies they interviewed.

In recent years, wellness programs have evolved to include subscriptions to apps, onsite wellness facilities, and lifestyle spending accounts. These empower employees to make their own arrangements for wellness intervention, rather than these being imposed top-down.

Employees can use lifestyle spending accounts for expenses like fitness classes, nutrition counseling, or sports equipment. You can adopt these cost-effective wellness initiatives to enhance your employees' physical health and work-life balance without incurring significant costs. By partnering with local gyms, sports stores, and wellbeing services you can also benefit from economies of scale.

More accessible and inclusive coverage

US organizations are enhancing their traditional health benefits with services like telehealth, health advocacy, and specialized coverage areas such as fertility treatments. Offering expanded health coverage doesn’t have to come with hefty price tags. Employers can choose value-based care providers and promote health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to manage healthcare costs effectively.

Telehealth services

According to the Harvard Business Review, Medicare telehealth experienced a 63-fold increase in recent years. The benefits of telehealth services as a cost-saving measure are immense, providing convenience and reducing the time employees spend away from work for medical consultations. Employees with long-term medical conditions will benefit from access to this service and will view it as a significant draw.

Specialized coverage

Fertility treatments are notoriously expensive, and yet more and more prevalent as workers postpone starting families until well into their 30s. Pew Research reported in 2023 that 42% of adults have either had fertility treatment, or personally know someone who has.

Such treatments can be highly stressful and can take a significant emotional toll. Providing subsidized support in this area has become increasingly popular. The Rewards and Benefits Association recently reported that “60% of employees believe that they should have better fertility benefits in the workplace, creating a unique opportunity for employers to meet those needs.”

Inclusive parental leave policies

In tandem with fertility treatment coverage, more workplaces are beginning to offer parental leave for both men and women. Such leave recognizes the increased diversity in 21st-century family makeup and helps address the disparity in parental leave allocation between the US and other countries. 

A survey by global brokerage and advisory company WTW found that 84% of US employers were planning to change their leave policies over the next two years. Says the report, “although most employers currently offer paid leave, nearly one-fifth of those companies plan to increase the value of their current programs.”

By addressing this vital aspect of a new parent’s work-life balance, employers can see significant returns in morale, reduced employee churn, and a boost in recruitment.

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Financial wellness and support

In response to economic uncertainty and rising inflation, more US employers are focusing on financial wellness. This includes financial literacy, indebtedness, retirement contributions, savings, financial advice, and other related services.

It’s an in-demand offering, with 40% of all employees reporting difficulty paying bills, according to MetLife’s findings. The causes of financial insecurity vary significantly—while over half of employees worry about the increased cost of living, 39% report indebtedness as a source of insecurity.

Financial wellness needs an individual approach, via one-to-one sessions with financial advisors or financial hardship programs designed to provide highly bespoke assistance for those in need. The good news is that most such services are low-cost benefits with high perceived value, helping address disparities in employee financial well-being while boosting satisfaction and morale.

Offering a 401k plan will empower team members to think about their finances and their future," says Hantis. "An employer holds the key to choose a 401k provider that will provide a strong financial education and healthy returns as employees budget for retirement.

Mariah Hantis,

Senior Director, Total Rewards, Payments, and People Operations, Deel

Partnerships with financial advisory firms or fintech apps that offer group discounts or employer-sponsored benefits can further enhance this offering.

See also: Employer's Guide to On-Demand Pay: Definition, Uses, and Benefits

Innovative parental and caregiver support

In addition to creating more inclusive and generous parental leave policies, US companies are also recognizing the broader needs of caregivers, offering leave for those caring for elderly family members. 

“Supporting working parents and caregivers isn’t just about policies; it’s about creating a culture of inclusivity and support," says Hantis. "From parental leave to flexible scheduling, inclusive practices recognize and value the diverse responsibilities of their workforce.”

Alex Bouaziz, CEO of Deel, emphasizes the need for flexibility: “We need solutions for parents or caregivers who can make a significant contribution to the workforce, but who need more flexibility and support to do so. If we’re going to harness this potential and plug staff shortages successfully, we need to focus on measures that encourage flexible working and offer support in areas such as childcare and mental health.\"

Extending flexible working hours and remote work options can significantly enhance support for parents and caregivers, contributing to a supportive work environment that fosters employee loyalty and reduces turnover.

Upskilling and re-skilling opportunities

As the job market remains competitive, employers are investing in their workforce through upskilling and re-skilling programs, access to online courses, and opportunities for advanced education and certifications. Such programs are especially valued by Gen-Z professionals, who recognize the rapidly changing technological environment in which they work.

Upskilling opportunities are especially popular with 63% of Gen-Z and Millennial workers, but also 59% of Gen-X and 54% of Baby Boomers. These incentives work across the board.

Cost-effective methods for professional development include in-house training, mentorship programs, and access to online course libraries. Building a learning culture that aligns with industry trends and employee career goals is crucial for maintaining a skilled and adaptable workforce. It’s also a key element in staff retention and recruitment.

Personalized and inclusive benefits programs

Companies are expanding their benefit programs to be more inclusive, covering a wider range of family structures, lifestyles, and personal needs. This allows individual employees to select their own benefits according to individual preferences. 

"The future of health insurance lies in accessibility and personalization," says Hantis. "From telehealth options to specialized coverage (HSAs, for example), empowering employees with choice and control over their healthcare benefits is key to a healthier workforce."

Such a move recognizes that a single, child-free worker living in New York City may have different priorities than a worker supporting their family in rural Texas. 

In fact, more than three in five employees were interested in the ability to shape their benefits package with their employer, and half reported being in discussions with their employer about benefits.

The rise of benefits marketplaces and online platforms allows employees to tailor their benefits packages to their individual needs, enhancing satisfaction and engagement. It also tells your employees that you see them as valued individuals, not a mass of undifferentiated cogs in the corporate machine.

The best way to source employee benefit ideas: Just ask

Crafting a competitive benefits package in today’s market requires a deep understanding of the diverse needs of the workforce and a strategic approach to benefits offerings. There’s only one way to source such intelligence of course, and that’s to ask employees what they’d like.

Surveying employee satisfaction and benefit provision gaps is vital and should be done regularly to stay up to date with generational trends. Right now, by embracing flexibility, enhancing mental and physical health programs, expanding health insurance choices, supporting financial wellness, and innovating in parental and caregiver support, companies can create a benefits strategy that attracts top talent and retains existing staff effectively. 

Such engagement is key to developing a benefits program that truly resonates with and supports your workforce while making you more competitive in a challenging economy.

Simplify US benefits management with Deel PEO

Understanding what benefits workers want and crafting competitive packages is vital if you want to succeed in today’s job market. Why not check out our free benefits webinar, examining what 21st-century talent is looking for? Or check out our global benefits tool, to find out what’s mandatory in different regions.

Deel PEO offers an easy and compliant way to hire, pay, and manage benefits for your US workforce. 

With Deel PEO, we can handle program administration on your behalf, or you can bring your existing benefits provider with you, ensuring a seamless integration and management of employee benefits. Book a 30-minute demo today to speak with a specialist and learn more.

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