7 Top Workplace Benefits for 2023
Now that the dust has settled from the start of a new year, it’s a great time to pause and consider what employees really want from employers for the stretch of months ahead. It’s interesting to see that three items on this late ’22 Forbes list are related to nontraditional work schedules, and six are about expanded, high quality healthcare coverage.
Much of that is mirrored in SHRM’s 2022 report on the subject, which lists the most desired perks as: four-day workweek, 401(k) matching, unlimited PTO, paid mental health days, and travel benefits. Another key takeaway? Customizable benefit options and responsive management are in demand. The report reveals that Verizon conducts quarterly surveys and reconsiders benefit plans throughout the year, to respond to employee preferences in real time.
In addition to these nuts and bolts benefits, there are also a number of newer perks making headlines—like Shopify’s decision to cancel all recurring meetings of more than two people. Below, we’ve rounded up some employee-experience improvements that are already popping up in job listings and national news, trends that show no signs of waning, and employee-first policies we’re hoping to see more of in 2023.
Read on for why these top benefits and others are in demand now:
- Mental health support
- Cost of living raises
- Flexible schedules
- Fewer, smaller meetings
Mental Health Support
This is a biggie. The unique stresses of the past three years and the increasingly destigmatized field of mental health have empowered workers to ask for better behavioral health coverage—from designated, no-questions-asked mental health days beyond standard sick leave, to better psychology resources, to accommodations for neurodivergent employees who may need to structure work differently to make the most of their skill sets (and may include up to 20% of the US population).
Cost of Living Raises
In news to no one, everything costs more these days. According to the Consumer Price Index, the all-items index rose 6.5 percent in 2022 alone. Instituting standard raises across the board to keep pace with rising costs will be key to keeping workers happy—along with acknowledging the difference between cost-of-living and merit-based pay increases. Hard truth: If a worker’s salary isn’t keeping pace with inflation, it’s effectively a pay cut.
Both the Forbes and SHRM reports make it clear that the era of the 9-to-5, five days a week schedule may soon be coming to an end. Enabled in part by remote work, employees and employers have seen how flexible work schedules can actually improve productivity—by up to 43%. Self-determined hours, four-day work weeks, summer Fridays, and more personalized working styles are on track to become the rule in the workplace, not the exception.
Even as a slew of headline-making companies have attempted to force RTO mandates, workers have pushed back with demands for flexible work options, a sign that hybrid work will continue to be just as popular through 2023. For many, it’s high time to instate flex work permanently.
Fewer, Smaller Meetings
As evidenced by Shopify’s buzzy announcement, there seems to be a groundswell of support for getting rid of time-wasting meetings. Whether it’s a group Zoom that drags on forever or an all-hands conference room meeting that ends with no clear next steps, employees have become more comfortable speaking out against time-wasters.
The unique stresses of the past three years and the increasingly destigmatized field of mental health have empowered workers to ask for better behavioral health coverage.
Top-Down Work Life Balance
Whether you attribute it to Gen Z’s better boundaries or a breaking point brought around by the pandemic, the tides are turning towards better enforcement of work-life balance. While employees can take steps to enforce their on and off times in their personal lives, workplaces where leaders are modeling the same will become more and more desirable.
From gender-neutral parental leave that includes paid time off for fathers, non-binary, and adoptive or foster parents, to healthcare coverage for fertility treatments, egg freezing, and time off for miscarriage, reproductive benefits are increasingly a key issue for employees. It’s not enough to go by state laws, which often require little to no paid leave at all, and usually apply to mothers only.
And with last year’s fall of federal abortion rights, big-name employers like Levi Strauss and JP Morgan Chase are setting a new bar for supporting employees who are seeking out reproductive care.
A quick perusal of job boards reveals it’s becoming standard for remote or hybrid workplaces to offer a one-time or yearly employee stipend to cover home office improvements. By giving employees cash to make the purchases that would make the biggest difference to them—a new office chair, an ergonomic keyboard, or even some plants to brighten up the place—companies are empowering workers to decide what’s best for their personal needs, and fostering mutual trust in doing so.
As a bonus, employers can make sure remote/hybrid workers feel seen and considered in other personal-feeling ways. For example: On-demand delivery of employee gifts and care packages—such as consumable treats, quality work accessories, and “kudos” items—as well as virtual rewards, are a timely complement to the WFH movement.