Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Let Employment Trends Guide Benefit Packages

Many employers think that their staff just wants to earn top wages. We would be foolish to think that money does not matter to employees, but it is not the only recruitment and retention tactic. One obvious way for employers to attract and retain top employees is to offer them the benefits that they want. So, what benefits do employees want outside of the ones that immediately come to mind like time off and health and dental insurance? Take a look at employment trends for a clue about benefit trends.

Pittsburgh, for instance, last week approved health insurance coverage for medical care unique to transgender employees. This would include anything from covering hormone therapy to gender reassignment surgery. Not only does this expansion of a common benefit (health care) relieve the hefty financial burden of care for transgender employees, but it sends a clear message that the City of Pittsburgh fosters a welcoming work environment to all employees. That latter message alone might make some job candidates more interested in working for the City.

Another employment trend is focusing on what millennials want. And one issue for that segment of the workers is how to pay off their student loans. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, only 4% of employers offer assistance in student loan payments as an employee perk, but the trend to increase that number is rising.

Illinois Republican Representative Rodney Davis is one of the sponsors of the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act, proposed legislation that would give employers a tax break for offering student-loan assistance benefits. The bill amends the tax code to give employers a tax deduction for giving employees $5,250 for student-loan repayment. The benefit is tax free to the employee. While it is not likely that the legislation will pass this year, it does signal that not only are student loans possibly the next bubble in the economy, but that paying off their student loans is a big issue for millennial workers.

Employers would be wise to examine these and other employment trends and structure benefits which address the challenges facing today’s workforce.