Employers continue to adopt non-traditional perks: study

More employers are adding unique perks to their traditional benefits packages to meet the changing demands of their workforces, according to a new study by human resources association WorldatWork and management consulting firm Korn Ferry.

The study, which surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. employers, found more organizations are offering unique benefits such as employee discounts, eldercare resource and referral services, telemedicine services, women advancement initiatives, identity theft insurance, disaster relief funds, cost of living adjustments and unpaid sabbaticals.

Employers are starting to acknowledge that employees have concerns and responsibilities outside of their jobs, noted Malinda Riley, senior principal at Korn Ferry, in a press release. ”These benefits help address those issues, which increases employee loyalty and productivity.”

Read: What are the benefits of offering commuting perks to employees?

Among the bespoke benefits identified by the study, telemedicine services were increasingly popular, with 81 per cent of survey respondents offering the perk in 2018 compared to 73 per cent in 2017. The survey also found rises in employers offering employee discounts programs (75 per cent compared to 69 per cent), eldercare resource and referral services (67 per cent compared to 62 per cent), paid parental leave (52 per cent compared to 47 per cent) and women’s advancement initiatives (36 per cent compared to 29 per cent).

While employers can explore endless benefits programs to attract and retain employees, there’s no guarantee they’ll all succeed and be a good fit for an organization, said Alison Avalos, director of membership and total rewards strategy at WorldatWork.

“Employer brand perception, organizational culture and workforce demographics are just a few of the factors that should be considered when determining whether an emerging program will be a worthwhile addition to an organization’s total rewards package,” she said.

Read: Employers, staff not on same page for perks: survey

For instance, certain unique benefits haven’t been as common as previously predicted. The study found only nine per cent of employers offer unlimited paid time off and just six per cent offer college debt repayment programs.

As well, the prevalence of some programs dropped between 2017 and 2018, including floating holidays, onsite fitness centres and college scholarships for employees’ children.