Employee benefits are a form of compensation that employers provide (along with a salary) to create a well-rounded, attractive payment package. Employee benefits vary, depending on the relevant government labor laws. In the United States, each state has its own regulations regarding employee benefits. Government-mandated benefits include:

In addition to government benefits, employers often offer:

  • Paid time off for holidays, vacation days, and sick leave
  • Health and life insurance
  • Personal leave
  • Disability insurance
  • Retirement plans

Generous employers may add complementary benefits to create a more competitive compensation package. For example, lunch plans, extra health care coverage, flexible work hours, wellness resources, additional vacation days, or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can attract talent and encourage retainment. 

Why should HR leaders care about employee benefits?

HR leaders play an indispensable role in integrating benefits that employees find useful. Incorporating appropriate perks can support employees with personal obligations and mental health while also contributing to:

  • Recruitment of quality employees 
  • Aligning company identity with established values
  • Motivation and engagement
  • Retention 
  • Company reputation

What can HR leaders do to facilitate an effective employee benefits program?

HR leaders bridge the gap between employees and their benefits. As intermediaries, they ensure that the benefits adequately fulfill employee needs and promote engagement and retention. The following practices can nurture a benefits program that employees will appreciate:

  • Develop a strategy. HR leaders should create a plan that establishes the goals of the benefits and the metrics for measuring success. HR leaders should also determine which benefits properly align with company culture and boost employee satisfaction.
  • Consider the needs of employees. Rather than enticing employees with luxuries that they may not have time to use, address their real needs. HR leaders should ask: Which benefits would enhance each individual’s employee experience in their stage of life? Flexible work hours? Extra vacation days?
  • Implement a method of communication. To encourage employees to use their benefits, people have to know they exist, understand them, and be able to use them with ease. A variety of channels, such as a convenient HRIS platform, a monthly newsletter, or a series of brief video explanations, can boost employee awareness of and utilization of benefits. HR consultant Sharalyn Lauby suggests appointing individuals to serve as “benefit ambassadors” who wholly understand the benefits, can explain them to their coworkers, and advise them on smart usage. 
  • Enlist the aid of a legal professional. The laws surrounding employee benefits are complex; to ensure lawful conduct, collaborate with an employment law specialist. Getting expert advice will enable the company to comply with local and national employment and tax laws. 

How do employee benefits improve company culture?

Supplementing a paycheck with practical benefits can tip the scales favorably for a company vying for top-notch talent. An applicable benefits program can boost retention, engagement, and performance, resulting in a healthy company culture built of satisfied individuals.