Why Nontraditional Benefits Are on the Rise and How to Make Them Work for Your Company

Flexibility is key for both in-office and on-site workers, but programs addressing mental health, education and others are important too, a study shows.

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With engagement on the downswing even as the end of 2024’s first half nears, nontraditional employee benefits emerged as an area of opportunity for employers, HR Dive’s 2024 Identity of HR survey found.

The most popular of these options, remote and hybrid work programs, were cited by more than half of the 490 respondents as part of their talent strategies last year. Other programs addressing areas such as mental health, educational attainment and commuting also saw an uptake alongside traditional, core benefits like health insurance, retirement plans and bonuses.

Flexibility: the most valuable benefit?

As The Conference Board dove deeper into the factors that influence well-being, it found that support for flexibility at work is one of “the most useful among a wide array of options,” Scott said. That’s because it can help employees feel in control of their work and personal lives while improving retention.

For office-based work specifically, hybrid work has become “the way it has to be if you want to optimize effectiveness and enjoyment of work,” said Debbie Lovich, managing director and senior partner at Boston Consulting Group. “I almost view it as not a benefit,” she continued. “It’s almost like it’s just the right thing to do.”

Data from WFH Research showed that, between December 2023 and March 2024, hybrid work was the most common work arrangement for employees who could work from home. Only 35% of such employees were working fully on-site.

Related:6 Expert Tips for Effectively Managing Multigenerational Teams

But even for those whose jobs demand that they be on-site, employers have options, Lovich said, such as flexible shift scheduling. Other forms of flexibility include sabbaticals and mental health time off, Scott said.

These offerings require implementation efforts from all corners of an organization rather than the compensation and benefits department alone, according to Sander Domaszewicz, senior principal and national practice leader for consumerism at Mercer. To encourage flexibility, organizations have to spend time “getting into how the work is done” and ensuring managers create the right work environment, he said.

Employers have several considerations to make to ensure managers are prepared to lead dispersed teams, from choosing communication platforms to setting norms around in-office time and deciding how and when teams collaborate. “Very often, when employees are comfortable with hybrid options, it’s because leaders are comfortable managing hybrid teams,” Scott said.

To read the rest of this story from our sister publication, HR Dive, click here.

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