As you begin your 2021 job search, there are plenty of essential things on your mind:
- “What are my career interests?”
- “Which types of jobs am I qualified for?”
- “What is my ideal work environment?”
- “Am I a more independent worker or a more collaborative one?”
- “Do I want to work part-time or full-time?”
- “How much do I want/need to get paid?”
And so on, and so forth. But in addition to these crucial questions, you’ll also want to take a close look at benefit packages as you start applying for jobs, and even more importantly when you begin to compare job offers. Over the last year, due in part to the ongoing pandemic, a lot has changed in the job market, including benefit trends. While some companies are downsizing their benefit packages, others are shifting theirs to better reflect the modern workplace.
In this post, we’re discussing the importance of benefits packages and what you should look for as a job seeker in 2021; plus, how employers can keep up their recruiting and retention efforts in the new year.
1. Competitive pay
Competitive pay is probably one of the primary requirements on your wishlist for your next role, but it can be challenging to determine what’s competitive for your market and what isn’t. When it comes to identifying competitive pay, you have to consider the role itself, your professional expertise, industry standards, as well as the cost of living in your local area.
Check out the resources below to find accurate salary data for your industry and geographic location:
- S. Employee Census
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- SHRM Compensation Data Center
- Job search platforms (i.e., Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster)
2. Retirement plans with immediate vesting and employer matching
Over the last 40 years, retirement funds, specifically 401(k) plans, have become a popular and practically standard perk of employee benefit packages. Employer-sponsored retirement plans offer team members the opportunity to invest a portion of their earnings into their eventual retirement, so, throughout the course of their career, employees can build up their retirement savings.
Because retirement plans are not mandated by law, it’s up to the employer whether or not they want to establish one and if they want to allow new employees to start vesting right away or not. Immediate vesting means that new employees can start saving toward their retirement as soon as their first paycheck is processed. This can be a huge perk for job seekers.
In addition to immediate vesting, many employers opt to match their employees’ retirement contributions, up to a certain percentage. As of 2019, the average matching contribution was 4.3% of an employee’s pay. Offering 401(k) matching not only helps employees accelerate their retirement savings, but it also improves employee retention rates. In fact, 401(k) matching ranks as one of the top 5 benefits employees value more than a pay raise.
3. Telehealth options
When you think about benefit packages, health care is probably the first thing that comes to mind. And as the COVID-19 pandemic carries on, health insurance is arguably more important to today’s workers than ever before. What’s unique about health care trends for 2021 is that more employers are adopting telehealth options as part of their benefit packages.
Telehealth options allow individuals to seek care over the phone or via video chat, rather than going into the clinic. In addition to keeping employees safe amid a global health crisis, telehealth also creates an opportunity for employers to provide medical access to their remote and rural employees.
4. Non-medical perks
A lot has changed over the last year, and in order to keep up with their competitors and shifts in work environment and culture, employers have had to rethink their benefit packages. One way companies are transforming their perks and staying on-trend is by offering non-medical perks that fit into the 2021 lifestyle.
Some examples of non-medical perks include:
- Childcare services
- Remote meal plans via delivery
- Pet insurance
- Life insurance
- Wellness programs
- Home office stipends
- Short- and long-term disability insurance
- Errand-running and concierge services
- Household management services
5. Paid time off and holidays
Paid time off (PTO) is another popular ingredient in an employee benefit package, and with burnout and stress on the rise, we expect it to continue to be standard. According to a study by Zenefits, private sector companies offer 10 days of PTO for first-year employees, and between 3-4 extra days for every 5 years of service thereafter. PTO policies do not include paid holidays or sick days, so be sure to consider all three categories when calculating total time off.
6. Flexible work from home options
Although the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is nearly in sight, many employees will continue to work from home for the next several months, and maybe even longer. But as employees have adapted to the WFH lifestyle, we expect many employers to start offering more flexible remote work policies as we enter a post-pandemic world. Including a weekly, biweekly, or flexible work from home days can be a big draw for professionals in 2021.
As we start off the new year, we’ll continue to face the positive and challenging changes inspired by 2020. If you’re researching benefit trends to improve your business’ onboarding packages, remember to consider what perks will be most valuable to your employees. This depends on their lifestyle, goals, industry standards, and your company culture.
As for job seekers in 2021, keep these 6 benefits on your wishlist to help you narrow down job offers, and ultimately, find the best fit for you. If a company does not include the benefits you’re looking for, remember that you may be able to negotiate your benefits package, just as you would a salary.
Which of these perks are at the top of your priority list? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below — happy job hunting!
Sophie Sirois is a writer based in sunny San Diego, CA, currently writing content for 365businesstips.com. With her Bachelor’s of Art in Strategic Communication behind her, Sophie began working in the content marketing sphere and has been crafting unique, informative, and click-worthy content ever since. Sophie enjoys covering a variety of topics, including tech, finance, business, marketing, wellness, and culture.