This Employee Appreciation Day, Understand How Benefits Shape Morale
No matter the product or service you’re selling, or the impact your business makes in your community or the world at large, the consensus is that the most important asset an organization has is its people. Our HR and Benefits colleagues know very well that keeping employees happy and engaged (and keeping them in general) is not only makes for a positive atmosphere, but is also a strategic business move. So maybe you’re celebrating Employee Appreciation Day with a grateful shoutout, or a catered lunch, but don’t forget to look at the bigger picture of the precedent you’re setting – whether intentional or not – with your benefits programs.
Beyond the “it’s the right thing to do” mentality, benefits that support employees’ physical health are important for another reason: unhealthy employees will be far less productive, if present at all. Take a look at your health plans to ensure affordability, access, and breadth of care. Components like dental and vision insurance should also be considered here. Beyond health insurance, many companies offer supplementary tools or services that promote physical health such as fitness reimbursements, point solutions for things like diabetes management or musculoskeletal issues, health coaching services, walking challenges, and more.
Mental Health America reported that nearly 20% of Americans were experiencing a mental illness in 2022. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that depression and anxiety cost the global economy approximately $1 trillion every year. While employers cannot solve the mental health crisis, many believe that they do have a responsibility to provide related resources and prioritize employee mental health in some way. At Spring, we recommend tackling mental and behavioral health through the lens of its three most common barriers: cost, access, and stigma. Any programs offered should try and solve for these. For example, does your health plan cover mental health related appointments? In addition, there are a wide range of services available in this area. Some companies bring in yoga instructors on-site. Alera Group provides Spring Health at no cost to employees, which offers complimentary digital therapy sessions, coaching, and other tools. Apps like Calm and Headspace provide guided meditation and anxiety management practices. Paid time off for mental health or built-in “breaks” during the workday, such as designated times when meetings are prohibited, can also help. Simple tactics like demonstrating openness to discussing mental health in the workplace can go a long way to lessen any stigma.
Especially in today’s economy, employees need help saving for retirement, investing wisely, and being financially informed and educated. We also know that financial stress can be related to mental health, so by focusing on financial health you can impact multiple components of employee engagement. At a basic level, leading employers offer a 401(K) or similar retirement savings plan, with an employer match. As a next level, tax-friendly benefits like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can be helpful, and there has been a lot of buzz around student debt repayment programs which employers can choose to contribute to or just offer as a voluntary benefit. Other voluntary benefits like life insurance, identity theft protection and short- or long-term disability insurance can contribute to an employee’s financial wellness. Other perks might include financial counseling services and educational seminars.
Do your employees in different states have access to the same paid leave? To the same reproductive healthcare? To the same disability coverage? Do your executives and your more junior team members have the same benefits and incentives? Do your programs address a diverse range of needs, accounting for factors like location, race, gender, and age? Equitable benefits send the message of appreciation to all employees and instill the feeling of fairness and compassion.
Most employers take pride in hiring ambitious and hard-working employees. Don’t let your corporate structure or practices inhibit that ambition. Employees feel appreciated when they have a clear path for growth and opportunities to step up. From a benefits perspective, this might mean incorporating mentorship programs, education or certification programs, tuition reimbursement, or formal training programs.
Employees should feel appreciated on a regular basis, and not just on Employee Appreciation Day. By making sure you have these five pillars accounted for in your benefits program, you can create a positive culture of appreciation and satisfaction.