Recently, I have acquired as an HR specialist in a large manufacturing firm. A benchmarking exercise has revealed that the company benefits are way low compared to four competitors in the industry. In this essay, I have shown findings on current trends in employee benefits outside the industry. I have identified the importance of adopting updated benefit programs such an onsite gym, free meals and paid family leave in differentiating the company from competitors and meeting employee needs. Vitally, I have offered highlights on how wellness programs and paid leave programs can be implemented at least costs and without undesirable legal implications.
Trends in Employment Benefits
At the moment, employers are offering benefits in the form of personal development and wellness programs. Forbes reveals that a wellness program for employees has become a necessity for companies that are interested in gaining a competitive edge over rivals (Forbes, 2018). Wellness programs assist employees in remaining healthy. They include onsite gyms, gym membership, incentives to help employee stop smoking, and rewards for attaining expected results. Encouraging employees to exercise is critical in improving their morale. Also, curbing absenteeism, reducing health care costs incurred by the company, boosting productivity, and employee retention.
Companies including Fidelity, Staples, and Aetna are investing in student loan repayment as a benefits package. Companies are considering the move after a 2015 survey that revealed that 76 percent of students would find a prospective employer who provided a student loan repayment benefit (Pacific Resources, 2017). A high number of graduates are worried about repaying student loans as part of their financial obligations. A survey has revealed that Employers who can address the issue will in the long run benefit from lower turnover. Though millennial graduates have high student debts, they are equally well-educated to meet the present work challenges.
Employers are turning towards offering paid family leave to support the recruitment and retention of new mothers and fathers. For instance, Facebook announced its move to offer 20 days of paid mourning following the death of an immediate family member on the 7th of February 2017 (Society for Human Resources Management, 2017). The company has also included six weeks of paid family leave to allow employees to take care of a sick family member. Offering paid family leave can reduce hiring costs by reducing turnover caused by demands for caregiving for family members.
Today, more companies are offering free food and drinks at the workplace. In the past meals were only provided to the executive, but in today's world, a high number of companies are offering free meals to all employees, including fresh coffee to onsite restaurants. The trend is not only vital to employee retention, but it also helps in preventing employees from fleeing the workplace during lunchtime, and it builds an influential company culture.
I would recommend the company to consider establishing an onsite gym as part of its wellness program. Such a plan would go a long way in helping employees to remain healthy and to tackle work-related stress. I would also encourage the company to have a designated area for an onsite restaurant where the employees can have their meals for free. Again, paid employment leave can be instrumental in enabling employees to meet the demands involving taking care of their sick relatives. Such an initiative will allow workers to be more productive and to concentrate on their work.
Legal Implications of Recommended Benefits
The Family Medical Leave Act, administered by the U.S Department of Labor, regulates the offer of time out of work to take care of a child, a personal medical condition or caregiving to an immediate family member. The requirement is mandatory for any organization engaging more than 50 employees (U.S Department of Labor, 2019). Firms are required to give deserving workers up to 12 weeks of job secured but unpaid medical leave.
Cost Containment Strategies for the Benefits and Avoidance of Conflict with Laws
The additional benefits, including an offer for free meals and a wellness program, fall under optional benefits that are not mandated by law. However, though such benefits are voluntary, any employer who chooses to provide them has to follow specific regulations contained in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The Act requires employers to issue employees a notice of the terms contained in the benefit plan, including their eligibility and what the plan covers (Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 2019). Still, employers are required to be non-discriminatory towards some employees in offering the benefits.
Building an onsite restaurant and a gym will go a long way in reducing the cost associated with offering free meals and a wellness program. Importantly, the company can allow employees to suggest non-expensive but desirable meals to be provided at the onsite restaurant to ensure that none of the employees are discriminated from the program. It is also cheaper to have an onsite gym with coaches employed by the company to allow employees to access the gym any time of the day depending on their schedule. Again, since financial compensation for leave is not a requirement, the organization can offer six weeks of paid leave and additional six weeks of unpaid leave. In doing so, eligible employees will have a total of 12 weeks leave as per the regulations and the program will not be overly expensive for the company.
Forbes. (2018). Adopt these 4 trends in corporate wellness to gain a competitive edge in 2019. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2018/12/28/adopt-these-4-trends-in-corporate-wellness-to-gain-a-competitive-edge-in-2019/#f1ba4677c3dc
Forbes. (2019). Five wellness benefits your company needs to be giving. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeslacouncil/2019/05/22/five-wellness-benefits-your-company-needs-to-be-giving/#326b8987353a
Pacific Resources. (2017). Student loan assistance: A rising need opens new doors for employee benefits. Retrieved from https://www.pacresbenefits.com/blog/student-loan-assistance-a-rising-need-opens-new-doors-for-employer-benefits
Society for Human Resources Management. (2017). Facebook's generous bereavement leave sets a high standard. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/facebook-bereavement-leave.aspx
U.S Department of Labor. (2019). Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Retrieved from: https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/retirement/erisa
U.S. Department of Labour. (2019). Family and Medical Leave (FMLA). Retrieved From https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/benefits-leave/fmla
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