Perk Trends: What’s New in Benefits?

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Perk Trends:  What’s New in Benefits?

With the squeeze for top talent, companies are looking for perks to help them stay afloat in the candidate pool.

For many jobs, there are still many more qualified applicants than needed, but for niche positions, in IT or engineering, the battle for specialized talent is real. Once onboard, high retention builds the value of your human capital.

To stay relevant, companies are churning up new and old ways to enhance their profiles.

Think about vacation—and retirement–planning

We recently discussed companies offering parenting coaching to help employees live comfortably through transitional times on the job.  Aligning perks to lifestyle needs is not new.

Two lifestyle benefits are on the table again. Companies are experimenting with loosening the reins on personal time off and retirement planning.

Some businesses have operated with an unlimited time off policy for years.  Essentially, the model does away with tracking personal time off in favor of giving an employee the liberty to manage their vacation time.  With different spins on the same policy, some of the benefits include:

  • Less tracking: Companies who have adopted unlimited time off save on HR time spent tracking hours and days taken off by employees.  In the traditional model, where vacation time often accrues with seniority, time is carefully counted.  When that model is disrupted, administrative time tracking those hours decreases, lowering administrative costs.
  • Counting time: Time keeping is an entrenched method of assigning value to time spent on a job, task, or assignment.  On an assembly line, or a workplace where success and value is measured in time spent operating or performing tasks, time keeping may always be a good means of guaranteeing value.

In other work spaces, ideas and creative processes flow beyond office walls.  Employees work at home, after hours—taking calls, answering emails, or completing projects.  The term “work/life balance” approaches the complexity of the issue—where does, and where should, work end and life begin? For some employers, giving workers the autonomy to set their own work/life balance through untracked time off is means of communicating trust and support.

  • It is popular: Many surveys reveal candidates look favorably on unlimited time off as a competitive factor in deciding where to work.

While uncapped vacation time has grown in popularity in the last decade, it is more discussed than adopted.  Dropping the limits on vacation time has some drawbacks in practice, including:

  • Less vacation time overall: Without the checks and balances of structured time off, some employees take less vacation.  While some employers might consider this a win, an employee who is overworked and stressed out is of less value.  When accountable vacation hours do not exist, workplace pressure may build to take less time off, eventually sending your best employees on interviews with your competitors.
  • Uncapped vacation does not equal flexible hours: Some workers believe unlimited personal time means the freedom to come to work, and leave work, on their own timing.  Unless specifically arranged with an employer, flexible hours and telecommuting are not necessarily features of untracked time off.
  • No go for some businesses: In companies that turn on productivity, unionized settings, or high numbers of hourly workers, uncapped personal time off could be hard to implement.  If your company has a mix of workers who must be onsite and those who are not—confusion and resentment could scuttle either model.  Accounting for benefit time, like FMLA, requires tracking.  In any case, thorough communication is necessary to prevent service gaps when an employee takes time off.

Another benefit being offered by smaller companies is contributions to retirement planning.  Usually a standard benefit of work in larger companies and enterprise, contributions to 401(k) plans are becoming a product of finance start-ups aiming to help smaller businesses offer and administer the plans.

When you have questions about software to streamline your back office or recruiting process, talk to us at BrightMove.



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