Many factors that will be taken into consideration while a candidate is planning for their future. Throughout the application process and while applying for jobs, many candidates will take the employee benefits that are offered into consideration.
The right employee benefits package can truly make all the difference, especially for employers who want to attract and retain quality talent.
As an employer, it’s important that you are well-versed in everything there is to know about benefits packages for potential employees.These packages are truly important to many employees, as not only do they make their overall work experience more enjoyable, but also help to create a better quality of life in the long-term.
To help ensure that you create and maintain an efficient workplace that prioritizes work-life balance, here is a comprehensive guide to employee benefits in the United States!
Everything You Need to Know About Benefits to the Employees
In this employee benefits guide, our team of employment experts at Borderless will walk you through everything that you need to know. From the benefits of offering employee benefits and the different types of benefit packages, to best practices, fringe benefits, and everything in between.
What’s critical to understand as a business owner, is the difference in your employees lives that the right benefits package can make. Not only can the right package make all the difference in terms of work-life balance, but also, it can also help to ensure that legally-required benefits are offered to eligible employees.
The Benefits of Offering Employee Benefit Plans
With the right approach, you can curate an employee benefits package that is truly beneficial to both your company and employees.
Employees who have access to health benefits, time away, financial and retirement benefits, and benefits that reflect work-life balance directly, are often happier, more rested and eager to work.
The benefits of offering employee benefits can include:
- Improved employee morale
- Better overall job satisfaction
- Increased employee retention
- Help employees to save money
- Create better work-life balance
- Attract top talent with comprehensive benefits
With a comprehensive benefits package for employees, your company will be able to not only attract top talent while hiring, but also, retain the right kind of staff for many years to come.
The Different Types of Employee Benefits
There are many different types of employee benefits. As an employer looking to hire in the United States, it’s important that you consider the many different types when establishing the standard package.
Health Benefits for Employees and Medical Insurance
While health insurance plans may vary in coverage and deductibles, it can prove to be very helpful for many employees. Especially those with family members who may also benefit.
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Vision insurance
- Prescription drug coverage
- Mental health care and wellness programs
- Fertility benefits
- Employee assistance programs
Time Off and Leave Employee Benefits
From time to time, an employee may need time away from work. From taking a family vacation, to short or long periods of illness, the right employee benefits can help.
- Vacation days
- Sick leave
- Paid holidays
- Parental leave
- Extended leave
Financial and Retirement Benefits
Employees should always be planning for the future. This includes but is not limited to financial and retirement planning, which an employer can assist with.
- 401(k), 403(b) and/or 457 plans
- Pension plans
- Stock ownership
- Profit sharing
- Financial planning assistance
Work-Life Balance Employee Benefits
Giving your employees the opportunity to better manage their balance between work life and home life is beneficial to everyone. Not only can it result in employees who are happier, more rested and focused. It can also result in a staff that is thankful for a benefits package that allows them to focus on themselves and their loved ones.
- Flexible work arrangements
- Hybrid or remove work environment
- Child care assistance
- Elder care assistance
Best Practices for Your Employee Benefits Package
Before establishing the details of your employee benefits package, it’s important that you first determine the best practices to follow.
The closer you’re able to follow these best practices, the more likely your employee benefits package will be both comprehensive and appealing for both current and prospective employees alike.
The best practices to consider when establishing an employee benefits package can include:
- Ensure that the employee benefits are useful and will be taken advantage of by including all information in a compensation package or employee’s account
- Consider the law to ensure that you are including legally-required benefits
- Communicate details of the package and how to use the benefits clearly to your staff
- Consider the unique needs of your employees to make your package more enticing
- Establish a package that is affordable for your business long-term
When following these practices, you will likely be able to establish a benefits package that not only meets the needs of your employees, but also outlines the core values of your company.
Legally-Mandated Benefits in the United States
Legally mandated benefits refer to the employee benefits that are enforced by federal, state and/or local laws. It’s mandatory for employers to offer legally-mandated benefits to all eligible employees in the United States.
Failure to comply with this requirement can lead to severe penalties for employers in the United States. While most employers adhere to the law, there are instances where some employers attempt to evade it by misclassifying employees or neglecting to provide the necessary benefits.
In such cases, employees who feel that they are being deprived of their entitled benefits have the option to lodge a complaint with the Department of Labor or their state labor department.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common legally-mandated benefits for employees in the United States.
The lowest amount that an employer may pay an employee at an hourly rate is minimum wage. While minimum wage is set federally, certain states have set their own minimum wage, which could be higher or lower than the federal amount.
As of 2023, the federal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25.
Overtime is compensation that is paid to employees who have worked more than 40 hours in a single workweek. In the United States, the overtime amount is currently time and a half.
Certain states have their own overtime laws, which may result in a higher or lower amount being paid in the case of overtime.
One of the most popular employee benefits that are legally mandated, is unemployment insurance. While many Americans are familiar with how unemployment insurance works, here is a comprehensive breakdown.
Unemployment insurance is assistance that is provided by the government for those who have lost their job due to circumstances that are out of their control. Unemployment insurance can help to cover basic expenses, while the person is seeking new employment.
This amount that they receive is determined by their previous earnings. How long a person can qualify for and receive unemployment insurance can vary by their state of residence.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA provides unpaid leave for an employee in the United States that protects their employment. The employee can take up to 12 consecutive or intermittent weeks per year away from their job, for certain family and medical reasons.
Eligibility is contingent on the following criteria:
- The employee must have worked for the employer for at least one year
- The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous year
- Employers must have 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.
Learn more about the FMLA in the U.S. Department of Labor website.
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
Legally mandated under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), COBRA continuation coverage ensures that employees can maintain their group health insurance - even after leaving their job or losing their employer-sponsored coverage.
This federal law applies to employers with a minimum of 20 employees. Generally, COBRA continuation coverage lasts for up to 18 months. However, it is important to note that COBRA beneficiaries must cover the entire premium cost, along with an additional 2% administrative fee.
This responsibility for the full premium amount often makes COBRA continuation coverage more expensive for individuals compared to the coverage they received while employed.
While there are many different types of employee benefits that are legally mandated in the United States, worker’s compensation is one that should never be overlooked.
Workers' compensation is a mandatory benefit that is established by state laws. The goal of this benefit is to offer financial support to employees who have sustained an injury or illness while on the job.
This comprehensive program offers a wide range of benefits, including but not limited to:
- Coverage for medical expenses
- Compensation for lost wages
- Death benefits for dependents in the unfortunate event of a work-related fatality.
To be eligible for workers' compensation, employees must have suffered injury or illness during the course of their employment.
These benefits serve as a crucial safety net for employees in the United States, ensuring that they receive the necessary support and resources to recover and maintain financial stability during challenging times.
Fringe Benefits and Work Perks
Fringe benefits and additional work perks are optional and at the discretion of the employer. While they are not mandatory and a great example of voluntary benefits, they can make a job more enticing and result in a better balance for the employee.
Especially in a difficult market where finding top talent isn’t always easy for an employer, having the right work perks can make all the difference when hiring and retaining employees.
Let’s take a closer look at some optional, yet in demand, types of employee benefits.
A sabbatical is an extended period of time away from work that is granted to employees by their employers in the United States.
Sabbaticals are a form of leave that allows employees to take a break from their regular work responsibilities for various reasons. These reasons can include rest, personal growth, travel, or even professional development.
Sabbaticals can range from a few weeks to several months in terms of duration. During this time, employees are still considered employed and may or may not receive compensation, depending on policies set by the company.
Sabbaticals are becoming more popular among employers in the United States, generally as a way to combat burnout, increase productivity and creativity, and also both attract and retain talented employees.
Parental leave is an employee benefit for new parents.
It provides time off, both paid and unpaid, so that a parent can:
- Spend time with their new child
- Care for a sick child
- Tend to a pregnancy-related health condition
Flexible work hours can allow an employee to adjust their work schedule to accommodate a better work and life balance. Flexible hours could be utilized for missing traffic to reduce time spent commuting, picking a child up from school or attending an appointment.
Flexible hours may be arranged on an as-need basis or apply to the day-to-day schedule.
Remote and Hybrid Environment
Following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote and hybrid work environments are a more recent addition to our list of types of employee benefits.
This employee benefit is growing in popularity, and for many reasons. Not only does it limit or completely eliminate the need for an employee to commute to their place of work, but it can also result in a quieter environment that allows an employee to better focus on the task at hand.
While there are many benefits to remote and hybrid work environments, some employers have found that it simply does not work for their team. How one employee thrives may be different from another, which is why it is so important for an employer to make the right choice for their team.
Educational Reimbursement and Assistance
By offering your employees an educational reimbursement and assistance benefit, you are investing in their future. Not only can it benefit the employee, but your company as well.
Your employees will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge, learn new skills and stay current within the industry.
It may cover the cost of tuition, books, resources, or supplies, among many other education-related expenses.
Unpaid leave provides employers with a way to allow their employees extended time off, without the employee leaving their position. Employees generally take an unpaid leave for medical or personal reasons.
While this employee benefit is strictly unpaid, your team can take a leave of absence from work with the added confidence that their job remains protected and waiting for them upon their return.
At-Work Perks and Discounts
At-work perks and employee discounts can make work more enjoyable - all while at the office!
The perks and discounts offered may differ from one place of employment to the next, but may include some of the following employee benefits examples:
- Free or discounted meals, snacks and drinks
- Free or discounted products or services
- Pets in the office
- Relaxed dress code
- Gym memberships or an on-site fitness area
- Extended breaks or lunch period
Not only can these perks help to attract and retain top talent, but also boost morale within your workplace!
Your Employee Benefits Guide: Frequently Asked Questions
From health insurance and employee retention, to the importance of employee benefit programs and everything in between, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about employee benefits.
What Are Work Life Balance Benefits?
These are benefits that can help an employee to enjoy a better balance between their work and personal lives. For example, health insurance provided by an employer can reduce the costs associated with certain health-related expenses, such as prescription medication, paramedical services or dental care.
These benefits also contribute to perks that directly impact the balance in an employee’s life, such as a flexible work schedule or a remote work environment. With the right approach, an employer can improve employee morale and boost job satisfaction - effectively resulting in happier and more rested employees.
Does a Health Insurance Plan Count As An Employee Benefit?
Yes, a health insurance plan counts as an employee benefit. Providing employees with access to a health benefits plan is optional to the employer, making it an added benefit for eligible employees.
How Do Benefits Help Employees Save Money?
Benefits can help employees save money by offsetting costs that they would otherwise have to pay the total amount for. Pending the coverage provided by your benefits plan, employees may only have to pay a fraction of the costs, or nothing at all.
Employees can save money in a number of areas, from health-related costs and paid time off, to financial planning, childcare and more.
As an Employer, Do I Have to Offer Employee Benefits?
Employers in the United States must provide their employees with legally-mandated benefits, such as minimum wage, overtime and unemployment insurance.
Other employee benefits, such as health insurance and flexible work arrangements, are completely optional and not required.
What Are the Best Ways to Retain Employees?
As an employer in the United States, there are many things that can be done to improve employee retention, such as:
- Offering comprehensive employee benefits
- Creating a flexible work environment
- Celebrating your employees and their achievements
- Meeting with them regularly to discuss their experience
- Treating them with kindness, respect and professionalism
- Make positive workplace changes based on feedback
With the right approach, you can significantly improve employee retention in your company.
Why Are Employee Benefits Important?
Employee benefits are important for a number of reasons. It begins with helping to create a better quality of life for them, through the perks included in their package. Whether they pay less for health care or strategically save for retirement, the right plan can help them feel confident about the future and ease financial stress.
These benefits can also enable your team to take time away from work when they need it most, without the fear of losing their job or missing a pay cheque.
The more confident, rested and grateful your employees are, the more likely they are to be focused, energized and motivated while at work.
It’s truly a win-win for all parties involved!
How Often Should I Update Our Employee Benefits Packages?
Your employee benefits packages should be updated as frequently as changes are required. As a minimum, the packages should be reviewed annually and updated as needed.
How Do I Communicate the Benefits to My Employees?
The best way to communicate benefits to your employees is through formal documentation, such as an employee handbook or benefits information document.
For more information about employee benefits packages in the United States, read this helpful article from Forbes!
Elevate Your Employee Experience With Borderless
From EOR services that can help you hire employees from around the world, to payroll solutions that can enable you to pay an international team with confidence and ease, Borderless is here to elevate your employee experience.
We proudly offer a wide range of solutions, including:
- Hire and pay remote employees
- Manage and pay contractors internationally
- Enjoy flexible global benefits, such as localized employee benefits
- Support with Visa and immigration requirements worldwide
For more information about our services and solutions, contact us today!
Contact Our Team of Experts at Borderless Today
With the right approach, you can hire and pay your remote employees with both confidence and ease. Whether they are located locally or internationally, Borderless is here to guide and support you every step of the way.
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