Each new year brings time for reflection and change. For businesses, this can mean re-evaluating the compensation, perks, and benefits employees will receive all year.

Most businesses already offer standard benefits such as health insurance, paid family leave, and vacation time. But the benefits market isn’t static, and new benefits are emerging all the time.

3 Types of Unique Employee Benefits for Small Business

It can take some time and planning for businesses to roll out new benefits, so staying ahead of the trends – before they become standard – is the key to earning your current employees’ loyalty and outshining your competition.

You can use this article to learn about three types of emerging benefits that may become more standard and why employees value them so much.

1. Student Loan Repayment Benefits Offset Employee Debt

Student loan repayment benefits (otherwise known as SLRPs) are an eye-catching benefit your employees may already be aware of.

When a company offers SLRPs, they commit to making monthly payments on an employee’s behalf toward paying off their student loans. These payments could be a percentage of an employee’s salary or include a partial match from the company.

This benefit is similar to 401(k), although it’s important to note that there is not a tax benefit for companies yet.

If you’ve noticed that your employees are not participating in your company’s 401(k) benefits, the reason may be high monthly payments to student loans that leave little funds for retirement benefits.

A recent survey found that people are becoming more familiar with SLRPs. More than 30% of people say they’ve encountered SLRPs during a recent job search.

Student debt is a major concern for employees of all ages, and offering support for employees who are dealing with debt can help boost loyalty and increase retention.

2. Telehealth Benefits Boost Employee Wellness

If your company already offers health benefits, you should consider extending these benefits to include telehealth.

According to Discovery Benefits, telehealth is an emerging benefit to watch in 2019. This benefit allows employees to access the medical care they need through digital channels, such as video calls.

This solution works well for quick medical questions, such as a sinus infection diagnosis or prescription refill. Telehealth is a convenient solution that simplifies employees’ lives, doing away with the need for disruptive appointments when a quick call or video chat would suffice.

Additionally, telehealth makes health care more accessible, encouraging busy employees to connect with doctors as needed. This can keep your whole workplace healthier, happier, and more productive.

3. Flexibility Benefits

Today, many employees can complete much of their work online, and tools like Slack and Google Hangouts make it easier than ever to connect digitally. With these factors in place, employers should consider offering greater flexibility to reliable employees in 2019.

Common forms of flexibility include flex hours, remote work, or compressed schedules. Each of these options gives workers more authority and autonomy over where and when they work.

Employees’ interest in flexible work schedules is rooted in bigger shifts in the modern economy. According to Benefits Pro, the gig economy is here to stay. Nearly one-quarter of workers (24%) say they plan to leave their current full-time jobs to pursue gig economy work or freelance work in the near future.

For many, the gig economy’s appeal lies in the opportunity to set one’s own schedule. On days when a child needs to be picked up from school early for a doctor’s appointment or a home requires unexpected maintenance, this flexibility can help workers balance their careers and life responsibilities.

Employers who want to experiment with offering flexible schedules can begin by offering this perk to trusted, senior employees. Once you’ve established what works and what doesn’t, you can find technology solutions that will ease communication and ensure that business goals are still met.

Final Thoughts on Small Business Employee Benefits Packages

Each new year brings innovative ways to support your employees through the benefits your company chooses to offer.

Emerging benefits such as SLRPs, telehealth, and flexible work schedules may not be the norm yet, but staying ahead of your competition can help you retain the employees you currently have and even attract innovative new team members who can help your business grow.

Ultimately, the simplest way to determine which benefits to explore is to keep lines of communication open with all employees. You might be surprised by what they value most, what benefits they can do without, and which trends they’re paying attention to.

Our guest author, Michelle Delgado, is a content developer and marketer at Clutch, a leading B2B ratings and reviews firm. She reports on the latest trends in workplace technology and human resources.

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