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6 Nontraditional Benefits to Offer Your Employees

Nontraditional benefits
Credit: One Photo/Shutterstock

In recent years, the job market has shifted in favor of candidates. People are choosier about the jobs they accept and why they accept them. According to Monster, at least one in five job candidates will turn down a job offer.

To attract and retain the right employees, companies should stay ahead of the competition by offering great benefits packages. Millennials are now the largest generational group in the workforce, and their numbers are growing. To be competitive, employers should think about how to attract these young workers when creating benefits packages, said Tim DeMello, founder and CEO of Gradifi.

While standard benefits, such as health insurance, paid holidays and vacation time, will always be a staple in benefits packages, some companies are offering nontraditional benefits to prospective employees. Here are six enticing benefits or perks you may want to offer to your employees. 

Insurance premiums can get expensive. While many employers offer health insurance through payroll deductions, offering auto and home insurance as a benefit can help minimize costs for workers.

"The need for this insurance is not going away, so why not allow employees to save money on premiums and pay for it through payroll deductions," said Peter Marcia, CEO of voluntary benefits outsourcing firm YouDecide. "Companies that provide auto/home insurance through payroll deduction are eligible for group rate premiums, helping families save money."

Employers should always be investing in their employees' development. One way to do this is to offer continuing education reimbursement. Employees pay upfront for college, graduate school or continuing education classes, and when they finish the class or semester, employers pay back part or all of the money spent on tuition. This is a great perk for retention, but relevant classes will also sharpen your employees' minds.

Tuition reimbursement is tax deductible, making it an affordable perk to offer. Starbucks' tuition coverage and Pathway to Admission program, in partnership with Arizona State University, is a well-known example of this benefit in action.

At one point or another, most employees will need to consult a lawyer for personal matters. MetLaw, from Hyatt Legal Plans, a MetLife Company, offers access to a national network of more than 14,000 attorneys. Employees with this perk are covered for a range of legal matters, such as wills and estate planning documents, real estate matters, debt issues, traffic defense, family law, power of attorney, identity theft and elder care.

Group legal plans provide affordable and convenient counsel, and are typically paid through payroll deductions. Attorneys are available for over-the-phone or in-person counsel, and employees do not have to deal with deductibles, claim forms, copays and waiting periods.

Pets have always been part of the family, but when they get sick, owners are caught in a tough situation. Without insurance, an unexpected surgery could cost hundreds, while a chronic illness such as cancer could cost thousands. Owners must decide whether to forgo treatment and hope for the best, or make a sizable deduction from their bank account.

However, some companies are offering pet insurance in their benefits package. For example, Nationwide offers three pet insurance plans covering many of your pet's healthcare needs. The most expensive packages cover almost everything, such as unexpected accidents and illnesses, cancer, ER coverage, dental diseases and behavioral treatments.

College is expensive – especially when students leave the classroom and start repaying student loans. Student loan borrowers between the ages of 20 and 30 pay an average of $351 per month toward student loans – more than some car payments.

Companies like Gradifi help employers offer student loan payment plans in which employers will typically pay $100 to $400 a month for five years toward an employee's student loan, DeMello said. 

"Seven out of 10 millennials have student loans," said DeMello. "By offering a student loan payment plan, the employer is able to attract and retain [millennial] employees, because [they are] addressing the biggest financial concern that these folks have. The employee really likes having this ally … to help them pay down their debt."

Can't afford to pay your employees' loans? Another option is help them refinance those loans at a lower interest rate through a third-party provider like SoFi. Individuals who refinance with SoFi save an average of $288 a month and $22,359 total, according to the company's website. SoFi members also receive perks, such as career strategy services, customer support, invites to SoFi events, federal and private loan consolidation, access to wealth advisors and unemployment protection.

Some organizations are providing voluntary benefits that are employee-elected and funded programs that are offered at a discounted rate. Because the benefits are voluntary, costs are paid by employees rather than employers, said Marcia.

Voluntary benefits could include purchasing programs for people who haven't established good credit. Purchasing programs can help pay for big items, such as a new computer or washer and dryer, over time through payroll deductions. Other voluntary benefits could include accident insurance, identity theft protection and disability insurance.

"Offering the right voluntary benefits programs can help employees save time and money, leading to reduced stress and increased productivity in the workplace," Marcia said.

Saige Driver

Saige received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. She is the social media strategist for Business.com and Business News Daily. She also writes reviews and articles about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie.