Priorities are changing rapidly for today’s professionals.

While people continue to demand higher pay and flexibility at work, a global economic downturn is fast becoming a reality.

People are less likely to leave their jobs than they were just a few months ago—and many are even willing to take a pay cut to keep them, assuming a recession hits as hard as expected.

But, research suggests that salaries will continue to rise. With high inflation and a rising cost of living, professionals will continue to seek higher-paid roles to offset the increase in their day-to-day expenses. And Gen Z and Millennials, in particular, are still keen to find a forward-thinking, progressive employer who cares about their wellbeing.

So how can HR leaders balance growing demands from their workforce and potential recruits with the need to keep budgets lean?

For many, the answer lies with their benefits packages. Creative benefits plans are an ideal way to keep your people happy and support employee retention, all while saving on your overheads. Doing so is certainly attractive—in fact, many people report that retirement benefits are nearly as important as the salary on offer in job selection.

We’re going to explore some of the most progressive benefits businesses offer today and break down how to build a flexible system that supports an effective recruitment and retention strategy. That way, you can be sure you’re offering benefits your people actually want and will use, in turn creating a work culture that supports flexibility and a healthy work-life balance—all while reining in the budget.

What progressive employee benefits are businesses offering?

Flexible benefits packages have evolved to cover much more than basic health insurance plans. Progressive employers are thinking increasingly creatively when it comes to supporting their people’s wellbeing, and it’s worth considering the following ideas as you look to build your package:

  • Improved health insurance, mental health, and wellbeing benefits that provide added support
  • Flexible hours and work structures, such as remote and hybrid work and work-from-anywhere policies
  • A work from home stipend for people to outfit a personal office space
  • More paid time off with added flexibility, such as floating holidays, mental health days, time-in-lieu policies, and a larger vacation allowance
  • Expanded parental leave that includes cover for both primary caregivers, and to which you might add childcare subsidies
  • Free gym memberships or on-site workouts that help your people stay healthy and motivated
  • On-site services such as social workers, therapists, hairdressers, or childcare
  • Learning and development opportunities, either managed in-house or via an annual training budget
  • Equity shares or stock options in the company that encourage people to commit long-term to the success of the business
  • Paid volunteer opportunities that encourage new experiences and empower professionals to make time to give back

How can you make sure your benefits are truly inclusive?

As benefits get more creative and employers label them as “inclusive” and “progressive,” it’s essential to make sure those monikers really do ring true and that you’re not accidentally excluding people.

For example, childcare subsidies or parental leave benefits are likely to only apply to certain team members, potentially resulting in an inequitable distribution of benefits.

How can you make sure your benefits are genuinely inclusive? Here are three things to consider when building your flexible benefits program:

1) Turn your research inward

Seasoned HR leaders know market research’s importance when attracting new candidates. But retention is just as important as recruitment—if not more so—and the best way to understand which benefits will be used and appreciated is by talking to your teams.

Incorporate benefits feedback into your one-on-ones and regular surveys. Ask your people what they would love to see as part of their package and consider those suggestions which come up frequently. Not only will your people be more likely to take advantage of those benefits, but they’ll also feel engaged, listened to, and appreciated.

2) Be creative

Excellent benefits packages encompass many areas of your people’s lives. Rather than limiting yourself to typical areas of health insurance, 401(k) plans, and bonuses, think about specific things that your teams might particularly appreciate. 

Use the research you’ve carried out to identify common themes in the suggestions. For example, do many responses relate to flexible working or home office equipment? Or do many team members talk about career progression and learning new skills?

When you listen carefully and look closely at what your people say, you can better customize the benefits you offer. You might even consider offering a selection of possible benefits people can pick and choose from for the ultimate flexibility.

3) Be equitable

Benefits, by their very nature, deal with specific aspects of people’s lives. As workforces become increasingly remote and globalized, offering benefits that apply universally to your teams is nearly impossible.

When reviewing your benefits package, consider which types are relevant to everyone and which ones aren’t. It’s key to investigate to ensure things are balanced. For example, how can you balance childcare subsidies with something equally valuable for non-parents, such as subsidized life insurance plans?

Treating everyone as fairly as possible and acknowledging how benefits are received differently across your teams supports a healthy and equitable work culture focused on universal wellbeing.

Flexible benefits: Increased impact without increasing your budget

A flexible benefits plan is a must-have for your recruitment and retention strategies. In the current job market and economic climate, demonstrating that you care about your people’s health, wellbeing, and work-life balance by finding out what’s important to them will go a long way toward bringing talented professionals to your door and keeping them there, no matter how turbulent the economic landscape becomes.

For smaller or younger companies lacking vast financial resources, it’s a great way of remaining agile and responsive to your changing workforce planning needs without needing to commit to higher salaries. A creative and equitable benefits package effectively gives your professionals the attention, flexibility, and support they crave, helping you build a supportive and productive work environment.

Tali Sachs

From Tali Sachs

Tali is a content marketing manager at HiBob. She's been writing stories since before she knew what to do with a pen and paper. When she's not writing, she's reading sci-fi, snuggling with her cats, or singing at an open mic.