Benefits and perks for employees are going to start tailoring to your needs in the next couple years. Since the workforce is made up of a greater mix of employees, you will start to see more benefits tailored to needs at different stages of life. Below you will learn about the five new benefits and perks that employers are talking about.
As reported by Wall Street Journal on February 20th, 2023, by Tara Weiss.
The workforce of the future will be made up of a greater mix of employees of all ages as people live and work longer, economists project. As a result, companies competing for these workers are expected to offer more benefits tailored to needs at different stages of life.
Here’s a look ahead at evolving work perks and benefits in the coming decade.
1. Stints and Sabbaticals
Options for work-abroad stints and sabbaticals will increase, managers predict, prompted by millennials and Gen Zers who say travel and life experiences are keys to their happiness. Employers were headed in that direction before the pandemic, says Jennifer Moss, a workplace strategist and author. She points to Silicon Valley companies that sent teams to work from Asia offices to immerse in the culture for four to six weeks with the goal of improving global collaboration.
“Human-centered leadership will be the most important skill in five to 10 years,” Ms. Moss says. “Global mindedness, empathy and respecting different cultures are all accomplished by sending employees to different places.”
Greenhouse Software recently launched its global passport program, which allows employees to work from nearly anywhere in the world for up to 60 days annually. Its goal is to create an opportunity for cultural immersion without the legal and tax implications of being transferred, says Donald Knight, Greenhouse’s chief people officer.
For those who want to travel while completely disconnected from work, sabbaticals are another future perk. Unlike traditional sabbaticals, a reward for decades of service, more sabbaticals of the future will be earned faster—after five years or less on the job. That’s in part because many of these sabbaticals are happening at startups, where three years may feel like 10 because of the fast pace, says Milind Mehere, founder and CEO of the investment firm Yieldstreet, which offers a one-month paid sabbatical at four years of employment.
“It’s a total disconnection,” Mr. Mehere says. “Vacations don’t allow for that. The future of work will demand it.”
2. Daycare for Your Parents
Dropping off a parent at an employer-subsidized care center could become a regular part of the workday in coming years. On-site care centers for the elderly are coming, and already being discussed at some universities, says Jean Accius, president and CEO of the nonprofit CHC: Creating Healthier Communities and previously AARP’s senior vice president of global thought leadership.
As a result, employers are exploring how to support workers in ways beyond offering leave or stipends to subsidize care, Dr. Accius says. Some startups are also looking to fill that need.
Andrew Parker, 35, in 2017 founded an online marketplace called Papa, which allows older adults or their family members to hire part-time vetted “pals” to assist with nonmedical care, such as errands, chores and companionship. He says he witnessed the difficulties firsthand when his mother, an attorney, had to cut her hours to part-time in order to care for her aging parents. Papa is available as a benefit through employers, as well as Medicare Advantage plans and Medicaid.
One hurdle all of these efforts will face, though, is a shortage of caregivers that is expected to worsen in coming years.
3. Hyper-Personalized Benefits
Customized benefits that aim to meet employees’ needs in varied locations, age ranges and family situations will overtake traditional benefits in coming years, human-resources executives predict. Imagine a company covering ski equipment as an employee’s preferred form of exercise. Or housekeeping services counting under a wellness stipend.
“I can no longer put together a traditional [benefits] package and think one-size-fits-all will work,” says Cara Brennan Allamano, chief people officer at the human-resources software company Lattice and founder of PeopleTech Partners, a networking group for human-resources professionals.
Benefits have been slowly moving in this direction. But issuing benefits ad hoc poses legal and tax compliance issues as well as hurdles in logistics and costs.
Forma and Level are among online companies that have sprung up to help employers build personalized benefits plans, administer them and oversee tax and legal compliance. They have similar concepts—dashboards with drop-down menus that list a host of categories covered including health, wellness, caregiving, financial planning and home office. Employees receive funds via a credit or debit card. An AI system blocks unauthorized purchases.
“Level helps employers configure what is covered and excluded (i.e. no bars),” company CEO Paul Aaron said in an email.
Over time, broad lists of approved items will develop so there will be fewer questions about what is fair game. Until then, employees will need to make their case for why something should be approved. Employers can add categories as need arises, says Jason Fan, CEO and co-founder of Forma—for instance coverage of rising gasoline costs.
“The more changes that happen in our society, the more companies will realize there’s no way their traditional method of benefits delivery will work in the future,” Mr. Fan says.
4. On-site Counselor
As workers’ mental-health struggles gain attention, companies are looking for new ways to respond. The American Psychological Association’s 2022 Work and Well-being Survey found that 81% of individuals said they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health when they seek future job opportunities.
Today many employers offer subscriptions to online therapy site Talkspace or the meditation app Headspace. The next iteration could be a move to provide in-person, on-site counseling with therapists or coaches, giving employees a venue for discussing work-related issues as well as personal problems, human-resources executives say. Employees will be encouraged to take time from their workday, on the company’s dime.
Creating privacy for a session at work could be a challenge. But Ryan Anderson, vice president of global research and insights for MillerKnoll, a collection of design brands for the office and home, says it’s doable, especially if the office already has a wellness center or meditation room. Already many universities provide discretion by embedding the therapist’s office within a health center.
And some employers see on-site services as a step toward a bigger goal: diminishing the stigma surrounding therapy. Roopal Pujara Lalaji, a clinical psychologist at Enara Health, says she observed an interesting phenomenon in her previous job as an on-site therapist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: “Whenever I noticed clients knew each other in the waiting room, I sensed greater camaraderie than shame.”
5. A Post-Parental Leave
Now that paid parental leave is widespread, watch for companies to add a transitional period at the end of that break, designed to let employees ease back into work.
It’s part of a broader reimagining of parental leave, building on the expansion of paid-leave benefits to all parents, says Amy Beacom, founder and CEO of the Center for Parental Leave Leadership, a consultancy based in Portland, Ore.
The trend has started to catch on at startups and small businesses where there’s less bureaucracy, says Alexander W. Leonard, the partner at Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe who leads the firm’s labor and employment practice. That allows them to experiment, he says. “This is a potential antidote to someone leaving completely after becoming a parent.”
Some companies could offer a few days working part time after the leave, and others a longer transition. At the password-manager company Dashlane, those in a transitional month are paid as full-time employees and encouraged to use the time as a catch-up with co-workers and any recorded town halls, says Ciara Lakhani, the company’s chief people officer.
Another option is a staggered return. At Washington-based engineering firm PAE, those returning from parental leave can work one or two days on their first week and add one day each week until they’re back full time. “A component of leave that is just as important as the leave itself is the return-to-work plan,” says Jessica Martos, PAE’s director of human resources. “Allowing parents to ‘ramp up’ and customize schedules gives them peace of mind that their family comes first, their priorities are valued, and our firm has their back.”