How Non-Medical and Niche Employee Benefits Promote Productivity

Joetta L. Wagner | | Employee Benefits Communication

diversity and inclusionWhen you stop and think about it, it’s not a big surprise that non-medical employee benefits keep employees happy. Nonetheless, some businesses have been slow to accept the idea. It’s usually the initial investment that scares them away. But slowly, more companies are realizing they can save money by offering perks like pet insurance and gym memberships.

The bottom line for non-medical benefits is that they aid in both attracting and keeping talent. The cost of recruiting and onboarding new employees too often can sink a business fast.

What Are Benefits as Opposed to Perks?

The main difference between perks and benefits is that benefits take care of basic needs and usually require a formal opt-in from employees. Some common non-medical benefits include, paid family leave, life insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance, commuter benefits programs and wellness programs. Non-medical benefits have expanded to include financial wellness and long-term planning, such as retirement accounts, as well as other remarkable perks. Some organizations provide tools to help employees understand complicated benefits packages.

Some, such as family leave (desired by 58% of polled employees) and flexible/remote work options (wanted by 55%), aren’t surprising. But several other benefits might surprise employers. Do you offer a gym membership or have an onsite fitness center? Are you offering to aid your employees’ student loan repayment? What, if any, food do you have available on site and how healthy is it? Is it free? Do you offer pet insurance or public transit assistance?

gym memberships and other non-medical employee benefitsPerks are small tokens of appreciation from management or simple ways to make work more enjoyable. They require investment, too (those foosball tables aren’t cheap), but employees are free to take advantage of them as they please. They help employees perform better on a day-to-day basis.

Non-Medical vs Core Employee Benefits

If you break down benefits packages, there are two types: core benefits and niche benefits. Core benefits are defined as those given to every employee. So, medical, life and disability insurance and retirement plans. Niche benefits and non-medical benefits aren't as broad spectrum. Not every employee will want every niche benefit offered, so there could be several programs with small engagement numbers. If you can keep larger operating costs down by offering niche benefits, you won’t need huge enrollment in all of them. Employees will know their needs are met, even if they’re in the minority. It just means you need to be selective when choosing which niche benefits to offer. You need enrollment to be high enough to justify the cost of the program. Surveying employees to see which benefits they’re interested in – and how deep that interest goes — is a good place to start.

Move Forward, Right Now

If keeping employees happy is a company goal, there’s a wealth of perks, niche and non-medical benefits to consider.

The biggest group of employees pushing the benefits and perks envelope is millennials. A report by CNBC noted this workforce generation just wants more. 75% of millennials are open to finding a new job and the top reasons they're leaving their current jobs are seeking a new role, getting better benefits packages and dissatisfaction with their career path at their current employer. In fact, companies are offering assistance with student loans and pet insurance specifically to appeal to the newer, younger hires.

Unlike previous generations, millennials don’t anticipate working for decades at the same company. While there are different personality types in this group, the idea of jumping ship because better benefits or a better position appears isn't uncommon. Don’t forget the simple fact that 92% of all employees rank benefits packages as a top factor in job satisfaction. Niche benefits matter.

Don’t Break the Bank

As recruitment and retention concern every HR pro, there are non-medical employee benefits to offer that appeal to everyone. And, thanks to the domino effect, happy employees transmit their positive work experience into positive customer and client experiences. This, in turn, increases productivity, improves corporate culture and boosts senior management.

pet insurance and other non-medical employee benefitsWhile some niche benefits require a high initial investment, there are a few small perks you can implement right away. These could be offering telecommute opportunities more regularly, providing a public transportation stipend, creating opportunities to participate in events like fun runs, and more. Toss in a pet insurance option that’s easy to add to your current offerings and you’ll make great strides in promoting productivity and satisfaction in the workplace. Most importantly, you’ve signaled to your employees that you care about them.

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