The 17 Most Important Benefits to Employees in 2024
Compete for top talent with this comprehensive list of the top benefits employees seek today.
Our 2023 Benepass Benefits Benchmarking Guide reveals insights on top pre-tax and perks programs, average stipend contributions, and benefits design so you can design more competitive benefits.Get the guide
Compete for top talent with this comprehensive list of the top benefits employees seek today.
1990s employees wouldn’t recognize the platter of employee benefits served up today. Back then, telecommuting wasn’t a thing, mental health wasn’t openly discussed, and no one used their brick of a cell phone as part of their daily workflow. But more recently, benefits have changed, and the pandemic has forced workers to reevaluate their priorities, lifestyles, and the companies they want to work for.
Fast-forward to 2024, and employers need a firm grasp of the most important benefits to employees. This guide digs into the top benefits available this year, including real-life examples of the companies offering them.
Offering choice and flexibility could be the difference between retaining your talented team members or losing them to rivals with better perks. Check out the following benefits employees want:
Today’s employees seek flexibility in their schedule, happy to work hard but eager to make the most of their home lives too. Companies can match this sentiment by offering:
U.S. federal law doesn’t cover paid leave, and 31% of employees have no PTO access. For those who do, the average American employee only has 11 annual vacation days, which falls far short of Europe’s 20 vacation days and the nine weeks of annual leave received in Iran and Yemen.
However, as more companies understand the importance of allowing their employees to rest and recharge, you’ll see job ads promoting unlimited vacation or generous paid time off policies. For example, Netflix allows full-time hourly employees to use up to 35 days per year.
Sabbaticals are another way companies encourage their employees to take breaks from the regular flow of work. Typically granted after a certain number of years of service, sabbaticals can range from a few days to several weeks or months. Lindsay Jesseau, VP of Digital and Experiential Marketing for Sun Bum, describes her experience:
“After years of debating, I took 6 weeks off this summer. Myself and my family are better for it and my kids repeatedly said it was their best summer ever. That’s all I needed to know it was the best decision.”
While sabbaticals do involve an absence from work, they can also differ from vacations by encouraging employees to engage in personally and professionally fulfilling activities, such as traveling, volunteering, or pursuing a passion project. For example, AirBnB recently ran an Antarctic Sabbatical—five volunteers selected from 140,000 applications joined a month-long expedition collecting snow samples to determine whether microplastics have made their way to the interior of Antarctica.
U.S. employees famously lack access to generous paid family leave as they welcome a baby or adopt a child into their home. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides some employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave per year and requires that their group health benefits continue during this time.
But companies are increasingly bolstering this very basic offering with further support. For example, Amazon’s Leave Share program offers its birthing parents employees up to 20 weeks of fully paid leave and up to six weeks of paid parental leave for spouses.
When the stresses of work and home are piling up, a mental health day allows you to take a day off to pause, regroup, and take care of your mental well-being. As the conversation around mental health continues to grow and become more normalized, companies like Microsoft now offer 10 days of paid time off to put toward leaves of absence, including sick and mental health days. This benefit is in addition to its new “Discretionary Time Off” policy for unlimited vacation time.
Compressing a full week of work into four days gives you a three-day weekend, which can be a game-changer for employees’ health. This more efficient schedule can be achieved by working longer hours on the four days or simply reducing the number of hours worked.
In the case of Buffer, the social media management platform company reduced to a 32-hour work week as a trial in 2020 and adopted the routine full-time after just one month. 84% of Buffer’s employees complete all their work in the four-day week, and 91% report increased happiness and productivity.
The pandemic has shown us that the traditional 9-to-5 in-office work schedule isn’t always necessary. Many companies now offer the option to work from home full-time or on certain days. This allows for a better work-life balance, increased flexibility, and comfort for employees with long commutes or personal obligations.
While some companies are going the other way by introducing incentives to entice their employees back to the office full-time, they could be missing a trick if they don’t allow room for remote working in their culture. Aaron Rubens, Co-Founder and CEO of Kudoboard, told us:
“Flexible work options stand out as one of the most vital opportunities for organizations looking to create a healthy, engaged workforce. It’s clear that many employees want to stay hybrid and distributed, so HR needs to lean into the adaptive schedules and remote work benefits that empower employees to create their own work/life balance.”
The days of health insurance benefits only encompassing medical and dental coverage are long gone. Companies now understand that taking care of their workers’ overall health and wellness is key to improving employee satisfaction, boosting productivity, and reducing turnover. Here are some ways to do so:
Even with medical coverage in place, affordability is still a key concern for employees. A 2023 Mercer study highlights that one in four employees can’t afford the healthcare they need without suffering financial hardship. To shield their workers from unforeseen costs, the percentage of companies offering deductible-free health plans will increase from 11 to 15% in 2024.
Mental health is finally receiving the attention it deserves in the workplace. More companies offer mental health support, such as counseling, therapy sessions, meditation apps, and mindfulness classes.
For example, entertainment developer OcV!BE enables its 500+ employees to choose the individual support they need through access to a lifestyle spending account (LSA). The LSA includes mental health support as an eligible spending category alongside other wellness activities such as spa, beauty, and massage; fitness and clothing; nutrition; and more.
While some companies still offer corporate gym memberships, many offer additional fitness and wellness perks such as virtual classes, standing desks, and even corporate-sponsored sports teams. These initiatives aim to promote a healthier lifestyle for employees while fostering team building and camaraderie.
Already gaining pace in Europe, U.S. companies are also realizing the value of supporting their menopausal workforce. Instead of relying on medical insurance, employers are now offering comprehensive menopause benefits, including hormone therapy, menopause-specific leave, physical therapy for pelvic floor issues, and more. Microsoft rolled out its new menopause support package in July 2023, and benefits consultant NFP reports that 32% of companies would be interested in offering something similar within the next five years.
More than three-quarters of Gen Z employees seek opportunities to learn or practice new skills. And if companies don’t meet this demand, they’ll face a retention problem. A modern employee benefits package can save the day by offering:
Most workforces comprise people from different generations, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds and with different parental or relationship statuses. Each of your employees has individual needs, so it makes sense to provide benefits they can customize to meet their requirements. Stipends are paid upfront, often on a monthly or quarterly basis, and then employees choose how to spend them. Some options include:
Remote working is often touted as being a low-cost alternative to the commute. While this is true in many cases, working from home also involves some expense, particularly if you’re setting up there for the first time.
Employees may use a work from home stipend to furnish their home offices, pay for coworking spaces, or upgrade their internet package.
Employees who use their personal cell phones for work activities such as checking email, logging into Zoom calls, or updating project management software deserve to be compensated.
Cell phone stipends are a fixed sum paid upfront to go toward the cost of your employees’ monthly cell plan. This benefit may be particularly powerful if you pair it with a technology stipend, which employees can use to purchase cell phones, laptops, monitors, headphones, and any other tech that enables them to do their best work.
Employers willing to support workers with the cost of their commute can widen their talent pool by attracting highly skilled candidates from further afield. Upfront commuter stipends can cover the cost of gas, parking, or public transportation fees.
Whether eating out or preparing meals at home, food stipends tie in well with your wellness initiatives, ensuring every employee can afford healthy, nutritious ingredients. Companies like Wix offer a biweekly meal allowance to provide a flexible, equitable, and cost-effective benefit for its workers.
Rewards and recognition programs incentivize your employees to perform, develop, and practice positive behaviors in the workplace. Leaders and peers can recognize each other and tie custom rewards such as employee points, monetary rewards, or company products to the praise.
Aaron Rubens shared why rewards and recognition are integral to company culture in 2024:
“An appreciation platform keeps a distributed workforce connected to organizational values. This approach promotes grassroots cultures of gratitude in the workplace by encouraging team members to celebrate events, recognize wins, and engage with coworkers. Leaders will see increased morale and productivity by creating a positive company culture and fostering a sense of belonging at work.”
Few companies can afford to offer all the benefits in 2024. So, choosing the right benefits mix boils down to communicating with your employees, understanding what they need from you, and empowering them with the flexibility to choose benefits that match their unique lifestyles.
The Benepass Lifestyle Spending Account delivers that choice. Here’s how it works:
Curious about how much companies are offering their employees in LSAs and other types of stipends? The 2023 Benepass Benefits Benchmarking Guide digs into benefits trends for companies of various sizes and industries. Download the complete guide to benchmark your benefits against your competition.