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Can Replacing Monetary Benefits With Health Benefits Work For Employees?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Nathan Sharpe. His opinions are his own.

Keeping employees happy is one of the most important factors that contribute to company productivity. It is no secret that when people feel good about what they are doing, they tend to perform much better and they become more engaged in their work. And one way to do this is by providing benefits or “perks of the job”.

While cash bonuses used to be the norm, many employees are now preferring other forms of benefits. This is why in recent years, many companies, especially start-ups, have become more inventive and generous in giving out employee benefits.

Unlimited vacation days, new parent leave, free travel, season sports tickets, pet insurance, and egg-freezing are just some of the ingenious perks designed to attract and retain the best employees. While some of these benefits may sound unusual and even outrageous, it may be surprising to know that the perks employees really want are actually achievable. One of these most-wanted perks include health benefits.

Why offer health benefits instead of cash bonuses?

Many employers still believe that most employees prefer cash incentives rather than benefits in kind. However, this was actually contradicted by a study saying that 4 in 5 employees would actually prefer perks and benefits over a pay raise.

This shows that while the monetary aspect is still essential in a job, creating an attractive employee benefits package is equally important. The same study also reported that health-related benefits are some of the top perks valued by employees. It is then a logical choice to include these in such a package. But while this move is beneficial for employees, will this be feasible for employers?

The great thing about providing health benefits is that it actually has a direct effect on the employers. By making these available to the staff, the company is also reaping an advantage. Here are some ways on how a company can be positively affected if they offer health benefits to employees.

Increased employee productivity

One common problem for employers is employees always taking sick days or absenting themselves from work. While this is a normal occurrence, a high-rate of absenteeism can cause work disruption.

When employees are in great health, employees are less likely to take sick days which will also lower absenteeism. Healthier employees are also less-stressed and are happier at their jobs, making them more productive in their work.

Improved company engagement

When a company has an amazing health benefits package, this makes employees feel more valued. This shows that the employers care for their staff and place an importance on their wellbeing.

Employees who feel valued become more engaged with their jobs and develop company loyalty. A company’s greatest resource is its people so ensuring that employees are always satisfied with the company environment is critical in growing a business.

Attract top talent

For a company to stay competitive in its field, it has to be able to draw the best people in the industry. By offering premium health benefits, a company can have an edge over its competitors when it comes to hiring new talent. This is because the benefits package is often a deciding factor for employees when selecting a company to work for.

What health benefits can I offer?

With “health” being such a broad term, it follows that health benefits can also cover many different things. Here are some of the top health-related benefits to consider.

Medical insurance coverage

Medical insurance remains one of the most valued benefits for many employees. This insurance usually provides private medical care to the employee and in many cases, to the employee’s dependents. This type of insurance also often covers services that public healthcare may not cover or would require waiting time to avail.

But since many companies already offer this benefit, it is often considered as an expected part of the employment benefits package rather than a perk. Companies who want to go the extra mile often offer premium healthcare packages that may include coverage for dental, vision, cancer and critical illnesses.

Nutritious food

It is often a struggle for many workers to find nutritious food especially in the workplace which makes them settle for unhealthy choices. Offering free nutritious food in the office is one job perk that could help improve health and wellness. This does not only add convenience but more importantly, it shows the company’s commitment to creating a healthier work environment for its employees.

Healthy food is often seen as expensive but this initiative does not need to be very costly. One practical example is to replace the office vending machine which is notorious for storing junk food and sugar-laden drinks with one that offers healthier options. By providing free healthy food in vending machines, the company can offer round the clock access to nutrient-dense food without requiring additional manpower.

Beverages on-site

By offering employees a selection of high quality drinks such as coffee, tea and fresh juices, this will not only provide savings to employees but will also lend a benefit to the company itself.  This will save the company time because employees will not need to exit the office anymore to get their drinks. Plus, according to several studies, coffee breaks can help improve office productivity by offering stress-relief and mood-boosting benefits for drinkers.

Fitness and wellness benefits

Fitness is fast-becoming a priority for many people all around the world. This is the reason why companies started offering free gym memberships and exercise classes to employees.

In some large organisations, participating in local sports events like marathons are incentivised. There are also employers who invite yoga teachers, massage therapists and sponsor various activities onsite to promote wellness and encourage their employees to live healthier. Life coaching and mental wellness programs are also growing more popular.

While having a robust fitness and wellness programs for employees is a good idea, one common problem is that not everyone has the same preference when it comes to how they practise fitness.

Requiring people to be a part of a running club every weekend or attend an early morning yoga class may not be well-received by everyone. Plus, some employees already have existing gym memberships or they practise a different exercise routine. It is then important to give employees a variety of options on what works for them individually, especially when it comes to exercise programs. This can be achieved by introducing a reimbursement scheme with a specific budget range, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution.

Offering health benefits to employees should definitely be a top consideration for employers when it comes to designing an employee benefits package. Giving monetary benefits may seem like the easy way out but many employees nowadays recognise the importance of taking care of their health and wellbeing.

While implementing these schemes may cause additional expenses and effort for the company at first, the results will be worth it in the long run. These types of perks do not only advance the wellbeing of the staff but also extend their positive effects to the company itself.

Nathan Sharpe

Nathan is a business advisor and business blogger at Biznas. He has helped many clients solve their business problems, and now imparts his advisory knowledge onto others to help them improve their businesses too.

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