Some employee benefits pay off for employers, too. A June 2 article by Gwen Moran in Fast Company discusses the impact of taking away some of the stresses in the employee’s life and lists some of the benefits that deliver for the company while making employees' lives better at the same time.
Calculating the exact return on investment for specific employee benefits can be tricky. After all, Moran points out, it’s tough to know whether that weekly yoga class had an actual impact on morale or if shifting the work day a couple of hours had a measurable impact on productivity.
But the bigger-picture numbers are sobering. The American Institute of Stress pegs the business cost of employee stress in the U.S. at $300 billion annually. The cost of replacing an employee who left ranges from one-fifth to more than one-and-a-half times the employee’s salary, depending on various factors.
Beyond health insurance and 401(k) plans, some benefits have significant benefits to the company as well as the employees, say experts. Moran’s article lists some that may pay off in unexpected ways.
- Financial Literacy. Employees who are stressed out and distracted about money and retirement savings aren’t the most productive. A 2015 study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business found that long-term access to financial education and follow-up can have a significant impact. Workers who received financial education when they were 40, along with regular follow-ups, increased wealth in retirement by 10%.
- Scheduling Autonomy. Here’s an easy one: Let employees handle scheduling changes on their own and allow managers to sign off on the swaps, especially in sectors like manufacturing and retail, where schedules may be fixed. This kind of flexibility increases worker satisfaction and leads to greater engagement.
- Food. Providing food is a growing trend in benefits. While it can be expensive, when you add up the cost of employees migrating from the office each day for lunch, as well as the missed opportunities for socializing and collaboration, which both contribute to productivity and reduced turnover, suddenly the cost might not be as significant. Providing healthy options as part of an overall wellness program may also contribute to enhanced employee well-being. If putting in a kitchen isn’t in the budget, consider cutting a deal with a local eatery or two to bring in healthy food on a schedule the company can afford.
- Subsidized Child Care. Juggling work and child care obligations is a constant struggle for working parents. Moran’s article suggests options like on-site child care, especially during nontraditional hours such as night shifts, can be an important factor in retaining employees. A 2013 study by the Human Capital Institute found that one-fifth of employees said on-site child care was important in attracting them and 17% said child care subsidies were an important factor in choosing their employer.
Overall, relieving stress and making work and life integrate better is an important consideration when providing benefits.