New Options in Employee Benefits Programs

Employee benefits programs are an increasingly important part of the total reward package offered to employees. Career-minded professionals no longer simply focus on the basic pay of a role, but look at the wider package of benefits available through the employer. While individuals are motivated by a wide range of different issues, a good employee benefits program can set one employer out against another.

As employee lifestyles are changing, benefits programs are having to change accordingly. There is no such thing as a conventional family any more. Far more unmarried couples have children. There are many more single parent families. Same-sex partnerships are now much more open and accepted than they once were. Human health is changing, too. Employees can now expect to live longer than ever before, which means that provision for things like old age, disability or having to care for somebody else are now all issues that employee benefits programs are having to focus more closely upon.

One of the key changes in modern benefits programs comes through the capability for individuals to have much more choice over what is or is not included within the package. As every employee's circumstances are so different, it makes sense to give them the capability to tailor their benefits accordingly. As such, employees are now much more commonly offered benefits as a menu, from which they can select the right personal choices, sometimes making a personal contribution where appropriate.

The range of employees offered benefits programs is now also changing. Once the staple of only very senior managers, benefits programs are now more commonly offered across the different levels of the business, with differing values and benefits according to the grade of the individual. Businesses recognize that these benefits programs are not just required to recruit and retain high-caliber management resource, but also their team members.

The nature of the benefits offered is widely changing also. Where once employees might simply have been offered private healthcare insurance, now businesses look to a much broader range of health-related benefits. This can include alternative therapies, wellness check-ups, extended cover to the family, and discounts on health-related pastimes. The extent of cover now tends to be wider, with many businesses acknowledging and covering same-sex partnerships and unmarried couples. Employers are also looking increasingly at flexible savings and investment options to help employees plan for longer retirement.

The total reward package now also looks at more than just financial benefits. Employees are far more frequently offered the opportunity to job share, work flexible shifts, work from home and take on other types of working conditions that better complement their home lives. The standard 9-to-5 day is now long gone, and employers offer a far more flexible range of working options.

Modern employee benefits programs look very different from their counterparts from years gone by. Changing lifestyles and more demanding individuals mean that companies are having to offer more to encourage staff loyalty. And for some employees, the range of potential benefits available to them is now comparably very large.

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