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Has Your Startup Thought About Employee Benefits?

This is an article that I previously provided to BetaKit:

When it comes to evaluating benefits for your startup, it’s not always about focusing on traditional plans, especially if you’re looking to recruit and retain younger staff. When building a benefits plan for a millennial workforce, it’s important to consider alternatives beyond the standard offering, since comprehensive medication or family coverage may not apply to them at this stage of life. Here are a few emerging trends in employee benefits you might want to evaluate for your business in 2016 to help you go beyond basic vision, dental, and health coverage.

Healthcare Spending Accounts

Healthcare Spending Accounts act as cash, which employees can use towards costs not covered by their existing plan. There are many options available, from paper-based to prepaid credit cards, cloud accounts, and app-based programs. Say your vision care covers only 80% of the value of a new pair of glasses. You can opt to use your HSA for the other 20%, or pay that 20% now and save your HSA for something else entirely – use is at the discretion of each employee.

Startups are loving Healthcare Spending Accounts because of the flexibility they offer.

Startups are loving these plans because of the flexibility they offer. This level of customization is unprecedented in the industry, and it appeals to a millennial workforce used to a certain level of personalization in every service they use. There’s an upside for employers, too – HSAs have a fixed cost with no month-to-month variables, so your staff will never exceed the sum you budget for.

At IPFS, we recommend that you stay cognizant of the administrative fees when choosing an HSA. These can range from 7 percent to 13 percent, so comparing plans is essential. Especially if your coverage is on the leaner side, augmenting your plan with HSA accounts is an easy way to make sure every member of your staff is getting what they need.

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs offer short-term, anonymous phone access to trained counsellors at any time, for anyone in your company and their dependents. The counsellor’s expertise is usually in work-related issues, including stressors like long days, work/life balance, and interpersonal issues within the office. However, help is also available for personal issues that may impact work, like going through a divorce or grieving a loved one.

These programs are growing rapidly, not only because the ability to provide on-demand therapy for only a few dollars per employee is unprecedented, but because the greater societal emphasis on mental health awareness is driving demand.

EAPs can be particularly useful in a startup environment, where team members often deal with employment uncertainty and long hours. This stress can be especially taxing for startup founders. Increasingly, we’re seeing CEOs and execs hitting pay dirt in their work lives, and beginning to unravel in their personal ones. Having a program like this in place provides a mental health resource that’s approachable, anonymous, and on-demand, and works to normalize the depression and anxiety issues that are affecting more and more of us.

Paramedical Benefits

In the last five years, an increased focus on health and wellness, coupled with longer sedentary working hours and a renewed curiosity around alternative medicine, has given rise to a demand for paramedical benefits like acupuncture and massage therapy. It’s not uncommon to see employers decreasing emphasis on more standard services like dental coverage in order to increase focus on paramedical benefits.

Services like these not only help desk-bound employees stay healthy, they’re also a great way to counteract the effects of working in high-performance environments. Many people are seeking herbal or non-pharmaceutical solutions for fatigue and stress from naturopaths out of their own pockets; employees and employers don’t realize that health benefits can cover this type of care. In growing numbers, benefit plans are now meeting this demand.

While some treatments are trendy – remember orthotic insoles? – these service groups are seeing exponential growth, especially in the startup world. Keeping your benefits up-to-date is an essential part of building a compensation plan that keeps your employees happy, healthy and doing their best work. So, if you haven’t revisited your offering recently, make 2017 the year you do.