For the longest time, there has been an assumption in the business world that the most important benefit employees are after is health insurance. The idea of offering health insurance is just embedded in the minds of business owners and department managers. But what if someone told you that health insurance isn’t as important as it used to be?
Believe it or not, a recent survey among 10,000 U.S. and European workers reveals that there are other benefits employees value above and beyond health insurance. In fairness, most of the European participants have access to socialized medicine, so any health insurance they would be offered would be private insurance that pays for things their national health systems do not cover.
With that out of the way, here are the top five benefits survey respondents said they want, in order of importance:
1. Flexible Work Hours
Work schedule flexibility is something American companies have been talking about for a while now. It is a discussion that was pushed to the forefront by the COVID pandemic. It is a discussion that isn’t going away. Some 95% of the survey respondents said they were more concerned about flexible scheduling and remote work than any other potential benefit.
2. Pension or Retirement Plan
The number two benefit on the list, a retirement plan of some sort, is something most benefits managers would expect. At BenefitMall, a general agency that offers , retirement plans are products their carriers and brokers are both interested in.
People are concerned about retirement plans because they do not expect that Social Security will provide enough when they eventually retire. Some sort of retirement plan becomes a priority when you are unable to save for retirement on your own.
3. Summer Friday’s Year-Round
Number three on the list is Summer Fridays being offered year-round. What is a Summer Friday? It is a Friday when you get to knock off early. Perhaps you get your work done and you are ready to head home by noon.
Summer Fridays are not a new concept in this country. Companies have been embracing them for decades as a way to motivate employees to work harder and smarter in exchange for a longer weekend. Now, it would appear as though more employees want the benefit all year rather than just during the summer.
4. Four-Day Work Week
Next on the list is a four-day work week. It would appear as though employees would be more willing to work 10-hour days in exchange for having a 3-day weekend. A shorter work week is not necessarily a bad deal for employers, either. Employees get more done in a longer day and employers do not have to pay the extra costs associated with running an office on that fifth day when no one is there.
5. Health Insurance
We finally reach health insurance at number five. This may come as a surprise to you, especially if health insurance is your number one employee benefits priority. And yes, health insurance is more important in the U.S. than it is in Europe. Still, the fact that it ranks number five overall is telling.
U.S. companies should absolutely continue to put efforts into maintaining quality health insurance programs for their workers. But they should remember that health insurance is not the only benefit employees want.
It is time for companies to start having discussions about flexible schedules, shorter work weeks, and retirement plans that can help workers provide for themselves when they stop working. Health insurance is not the be-all and end-all of the employee benefit package.