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Retention Is Driving an Onslaught of New, Unconventional Benefits

In recent months, we have seen an onslaught of unconventional benefits being offered by U.S. employers. We should expect to see more as open enrollment gets underway. So what’s driving the unconventional benefit trend? Retention.

It used to be that health insurance, a retirement plan, and a week of paid vacation was all an employer needed to effectively recruit. That is no longer the case. First of all, employers are more concerned about retention than recruiting. Second, they are having to add a variety of unconventional benefits just to do so.

Retention Is a Top Priority

US Workforce Trends Report

Gallagher’s 2023 US Workforce Trends Report surveyed more than 4,000 employers to find out what’s happening in HR departments. Their research revealed five trends HR departments are most focused on. At the top of the list is retention. Retaining talented workers is the number one operational priority among both private and public sector employers. It even beats out revenue retention.

This is no coincidence. At the start of the Great Resignation during the summer of 2020, employees had come to the realization that they controlled the narrative. If their employers wanted them back badly enough, concessions would be made. This is exactly what happened.

Over the last three years, employers have done everything from boost salaries to offer more PTO in order to fill open jobs. But now they are turning to unconventional benefits to make sure those jobs remain filled. They do not want a repeat of the Great Resignation with the next public crisis that causes employees to reevaluate their lives.

Examples of Unconventional Benefits

So what types of unconventional benefits are now on the table? Really, there are no limits. Whatever an employer feels will work is worth considering. If something is tried and flops, an employer simply moves on to the next idea. Here are just some of the more interesting offerings discussed in a recent Quartz post:

  • Mandatory PTO – One company mentioned in the Quartz post sends new employees on a two-week vacation before they ever report for that first day on the job. They also mandate two 5-day vacations per year for employees with less time on the job and two 10-day vacations per year for employees with more time.
  • Baby Bonuses – Some companies are offering working mothers baby cash bonuses as a way of encouraging them to come back to work after the birth of a child. The bonuses can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.
  • Pet Benefits – Pet benefits are also on the table. They include things like pet bereavement leave and taking paid time off to bring home and get familiar with a new pet. Some companies are even offering cash bonuses to employees who adopt a pet from a shelter.

There are plenty more where these three unconventional benefits came from. Time and space prevent compiling a complete list. The point is that voluntary benefits can be as unconventional as an employer wishes.

A Great Time to Be a Broker

Knowing what we know about unconventional employee benefits, now appears to be a great time to be a broker. Benefits brokers can work under general agencies like BenefitMall.com to get access to hundreds of carriers with all sorts of employee benefit products. They can even work outside those carriers to establish relationships with other organizations.

Employers have made retention the number one HR priority heading into next year. They are backing it up with a slew of unconventional benefits designed to win over employees who would otherwise jump ship. It seems to be working.