Benefits or Necessities?

Julie Shenkman
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With the wave of job opportunities and the shrinking of the candidate pool, employers are finding it difficult to offer a few sick days, mediocre health coverage and Christmas off with pay as a "Benefits Package". In today's job market, benefits are equally as important as the base salary itself. Thus, maybe "Benefits" should now be called "Necessities". Employees are no longer solely looking at the wages when deciding which employer to work for. Perks are prominent in their minds when making their decisions.

Employers are brainstorming to develop new, creative incentives to both reel in new employees and keep the existing ones happy. And it’s not easy – or cheap. However, which costs more? Providing better incentives or dealing with a steady rate of attrition?

Insurance

Basic coverage is no longer enough with most employees. Companies are searching for bigger and better options for health coverage. Most employees expect services such as orthodontics, mental health care, women's health care and vision care. Workers are also looking for additions to their insurance including legal plans, reimbursed medical/daycare costs and more effective short/long term disability plans.

Time-Off

A few days off with pay used to the norm with most employers, but this too is changing. "Flex-time" has become an industry catch phrase, offering workers more flexibility within their schedule. Companies are offering more time off, including more vacation and sick time as well as all major holidays and floating holidays. Many companies are also adding more flexible time off with pay for new fathers, bereavement and "family matters".

Tuition Reimbursement

Continuing education has become much easier to accomplish with employer support. Companies are offering schedule flexibility and often tuition reimbursement if the employee is studying a field related to their job.

Game Rooms, Free Soda and More

Taking on a more casual and creative attitude, employers are offering their workers perks that were unheard of ten years ago. Companies are building game rooms with free pool tables, pinball machines and Ping-Pong for their employees to use during their free time. Free canned soda and soda fountains are being installed to keep employees well caffienated. Discounts to fitness centers are also becoming commonplace. Some companies have even gone to the extent of offering personal services such as paying bills, picking up dry cleaning, and preparing take-home dinners.

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