While there are mandatory benefits that employees are legally entitled to, many employers will also offer additional benefits. Non-mandatory benefits are employee perks that aren’t required by the US federal law. Find out more about why businesses offer these benefits and understand how to provide budget-friendly perks to your US workforce.
What are Non-mandatory employee benefits?
Non-mandatory employee benefits, also known as voluntary, optional, or non-statutory benefits, are those that the employer grants to the employee without having a legal obligation. These can include benefits such as paid vacation time, health insurance (medical insurance), contribution to retirement saving plans, childcare payments, long-term disability coverage, education assistance, wellness programs, and productivity incentives. Non-mandatory benefits can be monetary or non-monetary. Keep reading to find out more about each type.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, I know what you’re thinking; why is it important that employers include non-mandatory benefits in their employee package? I’m glad you asked. Now more than ever, recruiters as well as employees report that company-provided benefits are a major consideration when evaluating job offers. Even so, many employers are including these as a part of their basic benefits package to increase the competitiveness in recruiting and retaining the best talent.
Common types of non-mandatory benefits
There is a wide variety of perks business owners can include in their benefits package. So how do they decide on which ones make the cut? Essentially, it all comes down to meeting their employees’ needs, which of course vary depending on size, location, remote vs. on-site, and personal preference.
Please note that even though all of the benefits mentioned in this article are non-mandatory, many of these are expected by the employees. The most important non-mandatory but highly recommended benefits for US workforce are:
- Health benefits
- Dental insurance
- Paid time off
- Paid public holidays
- Sick leave
Now, let’s discuss non-mandatory employee benefits in more detail. Generally, many companies offer perks in the following areas:
- Smart working
- Employee health & well-being
- Financial security
*Many fringe benefits are tax-deductible for the employers.
Non-Mandatory Benefits for smart working
This type of benefit ensures employees’ workday is just as pleasant as it is productive.
- Flexible working: one of the most popular and effective non-mandatory benefits to retain employees
- Remote working: a perk to help your remote employees set up and work from their home office
- Skills development: an opportunity for employees to further develop their skills while also becoming more knowledgeable
- Free meals and drinks: a simple way to keep employees energised, provide an opportunity to socialise and show that you care about them
- Group activities and gift exchange: a popular strategy that helps to build relationships amongst the team
Employee benefits for health and well-being
This type of perks supports employees’ mental and physical health.
- Gym membership
- Mental healthcare
- Counselling services
- Life and career coaching
- Meditation classes
- Employee discount scheme
Employee benefits to improve lifestyle
This type of benefits supports employees and help them achieve better work-life balance, reducing stress and prevents burnout.
- Paid time off (PTO or personal leave)
- Gas or transportation costs (if employees must commute)
- Childcare / Daycare centers
- Legal services
- Birthday leave policy
Employee benefits for financial security
- Health benefits
- Vision insurance
- Dental insurance
- Life insurance
- Disability insurance
- Paid parental leave
- Paid public holidays
- Sick leave
- Maternity leave
- Retirement saving plans (401k or employee-sponsored IRA)
- Unemployment insurance
- Legal advice around saving and loans
- Student debt payments (tuition reimbursement) *
*In the US, student loans have become one of the most prevalent reasons for debt. According to the World Economic Forum, more than 45 million Americans have a total of $1.5 trillion in student debt. For this reason, offering employees an allowance that is specifically earmarked for student debt payments has become an increasingly popular benefit to offer.
The 2022 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Benefits Survey surveyed over 2,500 HR professionals to create a list of the most valuable benefits.
The results are as follows:
- Health care: 91%
- Flexible working: 85%
- Paid leave: 80%
- Family-friendly: 72%
- Wellness programs: 60%
- Retirement schemes: 51%
What are the most valuable non-mandatory benefits for your team?
What are the advantages of non-mandatory employee benefits?
As mentioned above, a comprehensive benefits plan will help your business stand out among other companies and attract top talent. On top of that, these benefits will improve the overall experience of your employees, motivate them and enhance their work-life balance.
Below, are the four most important reasons why every company should consider offering a benefits package to its employees:
1. Desirable workplace by employees
Benefits such as flexible working hours allow eligible employees to improve time management skills and work scheduling. According to the 2022 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Benefits Survey, businesses that nurture an employee-first culture are 89% less likely to deal with employee resignations. That’s 89% less resignations!
2. Attraction of best talent
When looking for a new job, the candidates are very likely to evaluate a company’s benefits package in addition to its compensation package and company culture. This set of perks provides the candidates with something to get excited about. It also demonstrates your dedication to employee well-being and financial stability.
3. Healthy Work-Life balance
Companies that offer gym memberships, meditation classes and healthy meals actively encourage employees to adopt healthy habits and prioritise their physical and mental health. These healthy habits also have an impact on the employees’ focus and motivation, and decrease stress and potential burnout. It’s a win-win situation for all involved!
4. Productivity increase
It is proven that motivated workers are much more productive. And it is indisputable that these benefits not only generate more commitment, but also increase the quality of work of employees. Win win!
How to determine which non-mandatory benefits should you offer your team
Choosing the right benefits package that suits your business starts with identifying your budget and getting feedback from your employees. Once you know what your employees desire, you can start creating a plan. Let’s discuss these steps in a bit more detail below.
1. Set your budget
Identifying your budget and determining how much you want to invest in employee benefits is the first step towards a sustainable benefits plan.
According to research conducted by Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2021, an average employer spends $11.38/hour on benefits costs for a single employee, annualised >$23,000 (this includes state mandatory benefits).
Please note, the amount differs between industries and the employee positions, but it is an important indicator worth considering when calculating employee benefits for your business.
2. Talk to your employees
Once you’ve determined your budget, it’s time to go straight to the source! Employees want to feel heard and don’t want irrelevant perks that don’t apply to them. Have a chat with your employees to find out what benefits they may see as important.
There are a number of ways to gather feedback, but one of the most popular ones is to run an employee benefits survey. The results will help you understand your employees’ concerns and preferences, which you can then use to determine their benefits plan.
3. Take a note of the most popular benefits
Once you determine what motivates your staff, it’s time to create a list of benefits for your business (non-negotiable and optional perks).
It is important to note that you can create different packages for different employees (full-time employees, part-time employees), but you must ensure to do it according to the law. All benefits-related decisions must align withemployment-based classifications.
4. Select a benefits provider
Once you know what you want included in your company’s benefits package, the next step is to find benefits providers. This is an important step as the company you pick will be your partner, ensuring your employees get benefits aligned with their needs.
5. Keep track of employee benefits over time
Ensure you track the benefits you offer your employees over a period of time and how many of the benefits are actually being used within your team. If employee utilisation is low, consider conducting another survey to determine why. Chances are that your employees are not aware of the benefits or how to effectively use them. And if you’re spending money on benefits that your employees don’t use, consider replacing them with another one that your employees may find valuable.
How can Foothold America help with non-mandatory benefits?
Expanding into a new global market is a complex, multifaceted process and so is the process of building a team in the US. It can be very time-consuming, especially when compliance is involved. There are different state laws, taxes, and mandatory employee benefits for each state to keep up with. Not to mention creating and executing an attractive non-mandatory benefits package to help you retain your most talented workers.
Luckily, Foothold America can help you with all aspects of non-mandatory benefits. As local experts, we help you stay within the rules by being your extended human resources team. With us, you get access to our comprehensive benefits package that includes an extensive choice of dental and vision plans, short and long-term disability, life insurance and an attractive retirement savings plan. Our competitive benefits packages are regularly reviewed by our US experts to meet state-specific regulations and best practices.
Want to learn how we can help your business? Book a call today or send an email to email@example.com to find out more.
US Expansion Advisor with 20 years of global experience in HR, Recruitment and Client delivery, supporting clients from the UK, Europe, US and Australasia. Rose has extensive knowledge of candidate attraction and employee communication management.
Over 25 years experience doing business in North American, European, and Asian markets with a primary focus and specialism on the complexity of the US market.