Perks of Work: Making the Most of Elective Health Benefits

Sept. 13, 2019, 10:15 AM

Time for Perks of Work, our weekly recap of intriguing data, surveys, and trends about the 21st century workplace.

Working on climbing the corporate ladder? Do you religiously Slack with work pals about dream benefits packages? Check this space every Friday to keep up with the latest water-cooler talk.

DIY Rewards

Salary, schmalary.

Today’s savviest workers are mining corporate health care for all it’s worth.

Consulting firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. surveyed over 4,100 businesses for its latest benefits report. Three out of four managers (73%) said they had bumped up employees’ pay over the past year. And a majority (52%) said additional medical benefits are now in the mix.

Embracing the boom in total wellness coverage is nothing new. But the elective changes employees are pursuing run the gamut.

Seeking help in dealing with autism (64%) topped the list of the elective benefits employees are going after. Nearly half of those nabbing elective benefits (48%) invested in hearing aids. Some took steps to lose weight (47%), while others laid the groundwork for welcoming chubby babies (46%).

“More employers appear to be thinking strategically about their benefit and compensation strategies to win the war for talent,” Gallagher exec William F. Ziebell said of the extra attention management is paying to the workforce’s evolving needs.

Check, Please!

Missing a single paycheck would mess things up for a whole lot of people.

Three out of four respondents (74%) told the American Payroll Association that if their pay were delayed by a week they’d struggle to keep things together.

There’s so little room for error in balancing workers’ necessities (food, housing, bills) that even a temporary hiccup in cash flow would make it “somewhat or very difficult to meet their financial obligations,” the APA said in a news release.

Not being able to get their hands on some dough is so troubling that one-third of the respondents (32%) expressed interest in on-demand payment programs that allow workers to dip into their earnings whenever.

The emerging crop of service providers charge varying fees for the privilege of turning any day into payday.

You Can’t Take It With You


That’s the last thing on today’s freewheeling worker’s mind.

Make that the third-to-last thing.

Financial services firm Ally Financial Inc. found that folks don’t mind saving a few bucks. But they’re more interested in splurging on immediate gratification than socking away a fortune they may never get to enjoy.

The thing that over a third (38%) of the roughly 2,200 respondents said they’re happy to throw money at: travel. The desire to see the world was about the same for women (39%) and men (38%).

Other priorities people said they’d be willing to fund ahead of their 401(k) include: caring for a loved one (32%); covering health-care costs (30%); and investing in their children’s future (30%).

Saving for early retirement (29%) did make the list.

But so did setting aside money for pet care (14%).

Hungry for more? Send any tips, polls, or story pitches to wrojas@bloomberglaw.com.

To contact the reporter on this story: Warren Rojas in Washington at wrojas@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Brent Bierman at bbierman@bloomberglaw.com

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