Are Employee Benefits Getting Way Out of Hand?

Employee benefits have long been regarded as a necessary tool for recruitment and retention. For decades, companies have relied on group health insurance plans and retirement accounts. But these days, they find themselves having to offer all sorts of creative new benefits to keep employees happy. Is it possible these new benefits are getting out of hand?

BenefitMall, a Dallas-based general agency representing thousands of brokers nationwide, recently published a blog post talking about three employee benefits that could play a key role in getting remote workers to come back to the office:

  • Computer benefits
  • Child care assistance
  • Technology upgrades.

All three seem reasonable in light of what the modern workforce looks like. But there are other benefits that don’t seem quite as reasonable. They are eye-opening and head scratching, to say the least.

Perks for Employees

To be clear, private sector employment is essentially a private contract between employer and employee. They are free to work out any arrangement that suits them both. If that means a non-traditional benefits package that makes both parties happy, so be it.

With that established, a MoneyWise post from late August 2022 gives interesting insight into what today’s employers are thinking. The post lists eight unusual perks companies have turned to as a means of keeping employees happy. Below is just a brief sampling:

  • Free Ice Cream – Renowned ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s keeps employee freezers fully stocked with their products. Each employee can take up to three pints of ice cream home every day at no charge.

  • Free Weddings – If you work for Boxed, the company will pay for your nuptials. Mom and dad no longer need to foot the bill. Neither do you.

  • Pet Insurance – Numerous employers around the nation have begun embracing pet insurance. It is essentially health insurance for pets, offering pet owners discounts on everything from vet care to pet supplies.

  • Pet Leave – Speaking of pets, the Minneapolis marketing company known as Nina Hale allows employees to work from home in order to welcome a new pet. It has been dubbed ‘fur-ternity leave.’

None of these perks is terribly outlandish. Yet all of them are a bit unusual. But again, employers and their employees can work out any arrangement they please.

We’ll Give You More

If there is anything concerning here, it is the fact that employers seem to have adopted the ‘we’ll give you more than the other guy’ mentality. Rather than trying to understand the root of recruiting and retention problems, they are choosing to give away free stuff.

Could it be that human beings just don’t thrive in the corporate environment? Could it be that we are all better off – mentally, emotionally, and physically – before the corporate era? And if so, what is it about the corporate environment that makes it so unattractive to so many people?

Giving people more stuff doesn’t get at the root of the Great Resignation. It does not address the fact that workers feel like they are overworked, underpaid, and not at all appreciated.

A Cycle That Never Ends

Are employee benefits getting out of hand? There is one way to know for sure: watch and see where it all leads. If what we are seeing now is an indication of even stranger benefits to come, the ‘better benefits’ cycle will never end. We will see companies continually trying to outdo one another in the same way politicians buy votes.

Count me as someone who sees the writing on the wall. Now that we’ve started down this path, are there any benefits and perks that are truly off-limits?