October 4, 2018 | By Stephen Miller | Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Voluntary, nontraditional benefits meet needs at different life stages
Employees’ desire for benefits tailored to their own needs is changing the mix of offerings this open-enrollment season.
“There is clear incentive for employers to get their benefits right and focus on the individual,” said Chris Bruce, managing director at Thomsons Online Benefits, a benefits management software firm. “Employees today don’t want to be just another number; they want to feel listened to, understood and cared for by their employer,” he added. “Delivering a personalized benefits scheme, which is able to accommodate an individual’s interests and life goals, is instrumental in achieving this, helping to ensure [employees] remain at the organization and have the support they need to work at their best.”
For example, next January General Mills is increasing fully paid time off for new birth mothers to 18 to 20 weeks, up from six weeks, and parental leave (for fathers, partners and adoptive parents) to 12 weeks, up from two weeks. To help employees at all life stages, the company is also introducing or improving other benefits, such as:
These new benefits apply to both salaried and nonunion production workers in the U.S.
“We spent a lot of time talking with employees at different life stages and asking questions about their pain points and what contributes to feeling torn between work and home,” stated Jacqueline Williams-Roll, chief HR officer at General Mills. “Out of those discussions, we developed a strategy to focus on those moments when employees really need support the most.”
A 2018 survey by TriNet, an HR services provider, found that 91 percent of employees at small and medium-size businesses view nontraditional benefits as important to their job satisfaction.
Nontraditional benefits include perks such as flexible work schedules, expanded paid time off, commuter benefits and remote-work options.