Benefits Becoming More Important as Demand for Workers Grows

Signing bonuses. More paid holidays. Paid training. School tuition. Even health insurance for employee’s pets.

Anne Woods, an Express Employment Professionals franchise owner in Santa Fe Springs and Covina, California, reports businesses are rolling out new and expanded benefits as the competition for workers grows fiercer.

Woods also reports some businesses are ending waiting periods for eligibility and upping the employer contribution toward benefit programs.

In Edmonton, Alberta, the economy is still recovering after the recession and the labour market is not as tight, but Express franchise owner Jessica Culo says benefits are becoming increasingly important and sought out by prospective employees there too.

“Extra paid time off is definitely something that candidates are requesting more frequently, and employers are providing,” said Culo. “Flexibility is also important, with many candidates requesting modified work schedules.”

Culo reports that several businesses are offering new benefits not commonly provided in the past.

“Built-in cafeterias providing lunch daily at no-cost or reduced-cost are a huge hit with employees,” Culo observed. “In the downtown core, free parking is also something workers want, and employers are providing more readily.”

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Express franchise owner Janis Petrini has not seen big shifts, but she has observed employers are “more willing to negotiate on vacation time,” given that many workers “would like more time off as a part of their salary negotiations.”

“Job seekers are seeking robust time off packages as well as opportunities for training and development,” Petrini adds. “There are small waves of wanting childcare reimbursement, wellness benefits, pet insurance or identity theft protection.”

Yvonne Rockwell, an Express franchise owner in Santa Clarita, California, likewise notes that job seekers prioritize a four-day work week when possible.

Luke Sodergren, an Express franchise owner of offices in Minnesota and Wisconsin, agrees.

“Our experience is that time off and a flexible work schedule is extremely important,” he said. “We have hired three to four new employees recently and all were asking questions about PTO and time off.”

So, what benefits, aside from health insurance, do employers tend to offer? Express put that question to business leaders recently. At the top of the list were a casual dress code, access to training/certification classes and flexible work schedules.

Respondents were asked, “What benefits, not including healthcare, does your company offer employees?”

Responses included the following:

  • Casual dress code – 16%
  • Access to training/certification classes – 14%
  • Flexible work schedule – 9.5%
  • College tuition reimbursement – 8%
  • Professional organization memberships – 8%
  • Community service/volunteer opportunities – 7%
  • Profit sharing/stock options – 7%
  • Opportunities to work from home/remotely – 6%
  • Cafeteria programs – 6%
  • Company gym/membership discount at a local gym – 5.5%
  • Generous/unlimited vacation time – 4%
  • Opportunities to travel – 4%
  • Childcare – 0.5%

“It’s a job seeker’s economy, and that means employers have greater incentive to provide additional benefits, especially if they are already offering competitive wages,” said Bill Stoller, CEO of Express. “Flexibility seems to be the priority for today’s employees, and benefits that help provide that flexibility, from days off and remote work to child care or continued learning, are likely to be well-received.”

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