Unlimited vacation, free parking, car allowances, concierge services such as food delivery, dog walking and housecleaning are just some of the new perks several companies are offering as part of their total rewards packages.

With millennials now dominating the workplace and baby boomers delaying retirement, the addition of creative benefits are a sign that employees want more options than ever, says Penny Zanussi, group benefits consultant at Cowan Insurance Group.

Read: How Canadian tech companies are upping the benefits ante

“The benefits plans that were designed many years ago were: Here’s the package. Take it or leave it,” she says. “But, millennials are now looking for some type of flexibility . . . so how employers approach benefits is definitely going to change.”

While benefits plans have traditionally included standard components such as health and dental coverage, they’ve evolved into total reward packages that include perks and wellness components as well, says Lara Dodo, regional manager at staffing agency Robert Half.

“It’s definitely become a more colourful space. Perks are like bonuses that companies offer to sweeten the deal or retain key people.”

Read: Domtar hosts total reward week to raise employee benefits awareness

This non-salary reward is especially important for companies in areas such as the technology and professional services sectors that want to recruit and retain highly skilled individuals, according to Dodo. “The organizations that are really attracting and retaining top talent have been early adopters on [perks],” she says, adding that leading companies ensure their benefits continually evolve to reflect the life changes of their workforce.

Perks don’t have to come at a high price, however. For example, employers can allow staff to wear jeans to work on certain days or work from home as long as they maintain their performance. Volunteerism is also popular with millennials and is something employers can use to create a positive organizational culture.

Read: Employee productivity top objective of global well-being programs: survey

The way companies communicate benefits plans is also changing, says Judy Buckley, vice-president of benefits and health at Accompass Inc. “In the past, you received an insurance company booklet where you may have one or two written pieces about your benefits plan. Now, employers like to do employee surveys and have interactive sites where employees can make choices, if they have a flexible benefits program.”

Since millennials value the freedom to make their own choices, some companies might change their plan structures so employees can opt in or out of certain benefits, says Zanussi. For example, some organizations in the United States allow employees to participate in private benefits exchanges, she says.

Read: KPMG staff to get credits for health pledges during benefits enrolment

“Someone in the U.S. could be provided with $8,000 cash [from the company] and they go through this exchange portal and decide what benefits they want from 10 carriers. I see that coming in Canada in some form in the future.”

And while companies have plenty of benefits and perks to choose from, it’s also important for those with finite budgets to re-examine their benefits philosophy, says Buckley. “More and more, we found employers want to take a step back and have a discussion as to why [they] offer a benefits program.

“If you know what your philosophy and objectives are, you can tailor your plan and spend money in the right areas that are going to make the most impact for your business.”

Read: How health benefits plan design is changing

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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