The benefit of benefits

By Grayce Burns

Most employees understand the value of work benefits and are familiar with the characteristics of a typical benefits package. However, briefly outlined in our article on retention strategies, a unique benefits package is also valued by employers as a tool to attract and retain top talent.

When designed and implemented strategically, a benefits plan can be an effective way to drive home a company’s values, its mission, and remind staffers just how valuable they are to the team.

The Basics

The majority of employers offer standard health plans, containing coverage for things like hospital visits, dental care, and assisted prescription coverage. In addition, most plans also include a pension or a plan for retirement savings that help employees prepare for a future beyond their working years.

Benefits that are truly beneficial 

A simple way to provide something extra to your employees is to work with your company health care provider to increase services for wellness with proven physical and mental health benefits.

Examples of these benefits include coverage, or reduced costs, for therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, and other paramedicals. These medical treatment strategies are incredibly beneficial to the individual receiving them, but many are not covered by standard health care plans.

Including these incentives in your benefits plans may make all the difference when a potential employee is comparing job offers.

In-office support

Additionally, most benefit plans include Employee Assistance Plans, or EAPs, and are a valuable resource for employees to use when faced with a difficult problem that may affect their ability to best serve the company.

In-office support, as included in benefit plans, helps employees build meaningful techniques to deal with some of the most turbulent times in their lives, such as getting married, having a baby, or moving. These added resources can help your employees make the most of an otherwise stressful time and simultaneously serve to increase loyalty to the company.

Non-medical benefits

Companies are starting to offer more benefits that extend far beyond the insurance realm.

Some of today’s top organizations feature benefits like subsidizing gym memberships, childcare, education reimbursements for classes taken by employees, and even donation matching when employees contribute to their favorite causes. These types of benefits are easily adaptable to your company’s values and goals, and are a unique way to extend exclusive perks to your employees that they wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Paid time off & the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act 

In recent years, paid time off has become one of the most talked about benefits. A few states have even responded by mandating that certain organizations offer employees paid sick leave if they fulfill specified requirements.

Effective this past February 11th, Maryland adopted a new law known as the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. This legislation  requires that businesses with at least 15 employees provide up to five days of paid leave each year for workers. However, a number of exemptions apply to various types of workers, including those who regularly work less than 12 hours a week, independent contractors, real estate brokers, construction workers covered by union contracts, and anyone under the age of 18.

In determining if your business meets the 15 employee threshold, companies should include their full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees into calculations. Eligible employees, however, are not required to be permitted to use any of the accrued leave time for the first 106 days, or 15 weeks, of employment.

For employers with 14 or less employees, this law will also apply—the only difference is that the employer is required to offer the time as unpaid leave.

Although the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act is in effect, many businesses have questions on how to best comply with the new law, and many state agencies such as the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation and the Department of Commerce offer incredibly useful tools and guides on their websites.

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