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Employee benefits are given by a company to its employees, over and above their salaries or wages. These benefits help employers attract star talent and add to the attractiveness of the job.

Employee benefits guarantee job satisfaction, and ignoring them may result in a dramatic decline in performance at the workplace. Neglecting benefits might also lead to a decrease in the employees' motivation and productivity.

If you're trying to review your organization's set of benefits but don't know where to start, you'll find some potentially attractive options you can offer your talent these days and might not have thought of, listed below. We'll wrap up the article with some advice for you to keep in mind throughout the process.

Tuition Reimbursement and Employee Training

As technology disrupts the way we live and work, and new jobs come up with certain skill sets that need yet to be learned, training and educating your employees is essential to ensure your organization's relevance over time.

In fact, according to a Leftronic piece, 94% of employees agree that they'd work longer at companies that invest in their training. Also, the businesses that do make that type of investment generally gain 21% more profit.

Some organizations offer to reimburse tuition fees once the employees have paid for courses out of their own pocket.
You can also contribute by paying a part of your employees' training to help them develop key skills. 
Another way to support your talent's growth is by covering the costs for them to access resources such as specific courses, conferences, or E-learning portals, in advance.

Tuition reimbursement and employee training add huge value to your employees' portfolios as they acquire a sense of growth, and are benefits that you should seriously consider. 

Paid Vacation and Paid Sick Leave - or PTO

Offering more paid vacation days could be another great option, helping your employees recharge their batteries. It has been found that employees can actually return from days off with new insights and strategies to tackle the problems their organizations face. Many companies that provide this benefit have seen its impact and have thus continued to support their employees. 

As for paid sick leave, health is the most crucial part of every individual's life, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a situation in which your employees' health is deteriorating, their productivity will take a drastic hit, yet they might still have to work. Providing paid sick leave as an employee benefit is a great way to show your employees that you care about them.

However, there should be a certain balance between paid vacations and paid sick leave. A Mitrefinch article shares how companies that "offer so many more paid sick days than paid vacation days that employees are calling in sick at an unsettling rate."
If that sounds like an issue your organization is or might be facing, consider opting for a Paid Time Off solution, instead. That means not discriminating between vacation or sick days.

Maternity and Paternity Leave & Parental Benefits

Maternity and paternity leave, as well as parental benefits, have become increasingly essential. Thus, it becomes more and more crucial to help your talent balance raising a family and managing their work.

Paternity leave is often overlooked although, according to a McKinsey study, 100% of the fathers who took paternity leave would do it again. 90 out of 187 countries already offer statutory paid paternity leave and 38% of organizations offer paid parental leave above that statutory minimum. Yet, with 62% of companies not yet offering this benefit, and some others offering it but not encouraging their talent to take advantage of it, there's surely room for progress. If you want to know more about the impact of offering paternity leave, you can watch this video we made on the subject.

There are other, additional types of parental benefits you can offer. At Starred, there's something we like to do on top of offering paid maternity and paternity leave: new parents can order meals at home during the first week after their child's birth. The first seven days after the baby's born are overwhelming. We try to make our employees' lives a little easier by paying for the parent's meals during that time so they can focus on what matters most.

Mental Health Support

Neglecting your talent's mental health would be a grave mistake, especially after the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and its drastic consequences. Since the pandemic started, 75% of people said they feel more socially isolated, 67% of people reported higher stress levels, 57% were feeling greater anxiety, and 53% said they felt more emotionally exhausted.

When it comes to burnouts, Tim Allen says it well in his piece on the impact of the pandemic on employee benefits: "Expanding benefits alone can’t stem the tide of burnout, but they may provide a bridge to the work-culture changes that employees badly need."

Traditional health services such as dental and physical care are of prime importance, but providing mental health support will become a more and more relevant employee benefit.

Focusing on the mental health of your employees will go a long way in impacting their wellbeing and job satisfaction while enhancing their productivity in the long run.

Adoption and Fertility Coverage  

As several people decide to have children later in life, conversations around fertility issues have become more common. At some companies, the talent has shown interest in being provided with egg freezing and in vitro fertilization as employee benefits. A number of big tech companies have started providing their employees with these perks, and you should take them into consideration too. Adoption can also be quite expensive, so companies have been coming forward as a support system, offering their services if their employees wish to go down the adoption path.

However, there's some controversy around egg-freezing as an employee benefit, and there's been an ongoing conversation about it ever since big organizations started offering it to their talent years ago.
A quick search on Google provides us with over 6,450,000 results, with all sorts of websites covering the subject: from the New York Times to the Guardian to Glamour or Vice.
The main issue at the heart of the ongoing debate is that freezing eggs is not a guarantee of having a family in the future.
If there's no proper communication around it, this benefit could cause a false sense of security in your talent. That's why it's important that, if you do include this employee benefit, you communicate it wisely.

Pet Insurance

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, we've been locked up in our homes, strengthening our bond with our pets. Pet insurance usually covers wellness exams, shots, chronic conditions, and acute illnesses and injuries affecting your employees' pets.

Pets can provide immense health benefits to your employees. According to several studies, they make them feel relaxed and help reduce stress. Overall, this less frequent yet significant employee benefit makes a great deal of sense.
Pet insurance can help your talent focus better by bringing a sense of peace to their lives; it also encourages pet ownership, and enhances your business' competitiveness as an employer.

... But Remember This

We've mentioned a few benefits that you might not have thought of yet, but there's one thing you should always keep in mind: your employees' desires and anxieties change over time and are impacted both by the socio-economic reality they're living in, and the events impacting their personal lives.

This is the reason why you should always maintain a flexible approach, and establish two-way communication to understand if your employees' needs are being met. On top of that, you'll want to offer holistic, tailored solutions.

In the video we made about the best benefits you can offer your employees, we help you understand how to tackle these matters, and we mention some additional options you might want to consider, like the shift from "sick days" to "personal days", or the possibility to offer lunch-and-learn sessions on coping mechanisms, and more.

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