Benefits & Compensation News

Beyond health care: Are these extreme perks the future of benefits?

We’ve come a long way from the days when a “good” employer benefit package included both health insurance and a retirement package.

Now one thing is becoming increasingly clear about employee benefits: employers looking to compete for top talent can no longer rely on the a solid but standard benefits package, rather, they must incorporate everything from financial wellness to flexible scheduling and everything in between.

3 standout examples

Employee Benefit News (EBN) recently highlighted 10 companies that are currently offering some of the most innovative benefits out there today. Some of the standout perks from the EBN piece:

Autism assistance. Following a well-received autism awareness event in 2013, JPMorgan Chase began offering autism benefits to its 160,000 U.S. workers.

What do autism benefits include? Everything from coverage for the initial autism diagnosis to the various therapies that are often prescribed for the disorder.

“That could include ABA [Applied Behavior Analysis], cognitive behavioral therapy, nutritional counseling, periodic developmental screening, individual or group family therapy, speech and occupational and physical therapy, as necessary. And, of course, medication management,” says Marie Pilgrim, JPMorgan Chase’s executive director, benefits design & strategy.

Wedding expenses. Boxed CEO Chieh Huang recently took employer-sponsored benefits to previously uncharted territory when he announced the company would foot the bill for wedding expenses of all of his unmarried employees.

Keep in mind this is the same CEO who announced last year the company would start paying for the college tuition not of his employees, but of their children. Currently, he’s paying for the college education of four of his staffers’ children.

Extreme matching. Many companies are experimenting with changes to the 401(k) match, but perhaps none are taking it as far as Microsoft. Beginning in January, Microsoft started matching 50% of workers’ 401(k) contributions up to $9,000 per year. That was an increase from the previous Microsoft match of 50% of the first 6% of employee contributions up to 3% of workers’ yearly take-home.

Why the change? According to Sonja Kellen, Microsoft’s director of global retirement benefits, the company wanted more parity between its healthcare and retirement offerings. As Kellen put it:

“We wanted to balance it out a little bit more. Our health plan is incredibly generous; we find [it] to be one of the best in the industry. We wanted to make sure that we had equally as much investment in our financial benefits.”

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