Honest HR

“But What About Your Benefits?”, Says Everyone, Everywhere

Episode Summary

Amid talent scarcity, the benefits that employers offer their employees have emerged as a key differentiator in attracting and retaining talent. In this episode of Honest HR, the hosts discuss the importance of expanding the benefits organizations typically offer and consider more imaginative employee benefits you may not have previously considered.

Episode Notes

The hosts of Honest HR begin 2023 by welcoming Monique Akanbi as a new voice to the podcast, and give a fond farewell to one of their own, Gloria Sinclair Miller.

Amid talent scarcity, the benefits that employers offer their employees have emerged as a key differentiator in attracting and retaining talent. In this episode of Honest HR, Amber, Monique and Wendy discuss the importance of expanding the benefits organizations typically offer and consider more imaginative employee benefits you may not have previously considered.

Earn 0.75 SHRM PDC for listening; relevant details provided in-episode.

Episode transcript

Episode Transcription

Monique Akanbi: Welcome to Honest HR, the podcast for HR professionals, people managers, and team leads, intent on growing our companies for the better.

Amber Clayton: We bring you honest, forward thinking conversations and relatable stories from the workplace that challenge the way it's always been done. Because after all, you have to push back to move forward.

Wendy Fong: Honest HR is a podcast from SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. And by listening, you're helping create better workplaces and a better world. I'm Wendy Fong.

Amber Clayton: I'm Amber Clayton.

Monique Akanbi: And I'm Monique Akanbi.

All: Now let's get honest.

Amber Clayton: Hello everyone and welcome back. We have a special edition of Honest HR today. We are announcing exciting changes to the podcast. As you know, the Honest HR Podcast over the past couple of years has had three hosts. Myself, Amber Clayton, Senior Director of SHRM's Knowledge Center Operations. We have Wendy Fong, Virtual Event Innovation Manager, and Gloria Sinclair Miller, Field Services Director. The show will continue to have three hosts, except one of us is moving on. Let's hear from that host now.

Gloria Sinclair...: Hey, Amber. Hey, Wendy. So it is bittersweet at this point that I'm going to be leaving the Honest HR Podcast.

Amber Clayton: Boo.

Monique Akanbi: Oh no.

Gloria Sinclair...: I know, I know. So much has changed since last we were together. I moved to a new state. I became a crazy Formula One fan, and I'm not leaving to go work for Formula One, though, hey, that's a dream, but I am taking a new role within SHRM. I am now the Director of Executive and Enterprise Membership Services. That is a mouthful.

But basically I am now staying on our wonderful membership team, but now accountable for a really important segment, our executive network, which are our top HR professionals in our organization. So CHROs, CPOs, VPs of HR, as well as looking after and assisting our enterprise team with those enterprise accounts that we have as well.

So it's bittersweet because you know I love hanging out with the two of you and talking about all these wonderful topics, HR topics, especially today's topic, which kind of falls in line with my move around talent and acquisition and retention, but it's bittersweet, but I know the two of you will continue to be great, and with the addition of a new host.

Amber Clayton: Well, thanks, Gloria, and we are definitely going to miss you.

Wendy Fong: That's so exciting to hear, Gloria. So exciting to hear about your new adventure. But yes, we'll definitely miss you, and you're always welcome back anytime.

Gloria Sinclair...: I will miss you both.

Amber Clayton: Absolutely. We may have you as a guest, so don't go too far. All right. So we're excited because as Gloria said, we have a new host, and our new host is going to be Monique Akanbi, Field Services Director. Welcome, Monique.

Monique Akanbi: Thank you for having me, Amber and Wendy, and Gloria, I'm going to miss you being a part of the podcast too, but I guess we have a new voice to get used to.

Amber Clayton: Absolutely. So Monique, could you share with our audience a little bit about yourself?

Monique Akanbi: Absolutely. I have over 15 years of HR experience. Prior to joining SHRM, I was the Vice President of People and Culture at a credit union association, which is essentially a trade association for credit unions in the southeast region. In addition to my professional career in HR, I was also a volunteer leader serving in various roles with our local chapter and joining the HR Florida State Council prior to joining SHRM as a field services director. So I eat, breathe, and live HR, and I'm just really excited to be a part of this podcast.

Amber Clayton: We are happy to have you join us, Monique, and again, farewell Gloria, we will miss you.

Wendy Fong: Well, we'll have you on the show next time to talk about executives next time and enterprise.

Gloria Sinclair...: Happy to do it.

Amber Clayton: Bye, Gloria.

Wendy Fong: Bye Gloria.

Amber Clayton: On our episode today, the three of us will discuss the technical competency, HR expertise, compensation, and benefits. This podcast is approved to provide recertification PDCs, but only if you listen to the full episode.

One of the most talked about topics in the past few years has been the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on work, workers and the workplace. Specifically, employers have struggled to retain and attract talent during this period due to various reasons. I thought we'd start with a little data, but before I share it, let's see if you can guess. So, Wendy?

Wendy Fong: All right. We're going to enter our Family Feud part of the show. I'm going to sing the theme song.da.

Amber Clayton: Are we allowed to do that or is there like copyright provisions?

Wendy Fong: Oh, wait, do we need cut that out?

Amber Clayton: I don't know.

Wendy Fong: I'm a little off-key, so it might be okay. So what do you think were the top three reasons why employees left employment in 2021?

Amber Clayton: Ooh, ooh. Where's the buzzer? I think money.

Wendy Fong: Money, amber. That's a good one.

Monique Akanbi: Let's say flexibility.

Wendy Fong: Flexibility. Love it. Love it. Great. Those are great, great guesses.

Amber Clayton: How about poor management?

Wendy Fong: Oh, poor management.

Amber Clayton: That's a good one. Yes.

Monique Akanbi: Also, what about lack of career advancement opportunities?

Wendy Fong: Oh, yeah, lack of career advancement. That could definitely be one too.

Amber Clayton: Culture.

Wendy Fong: Culture.

Amber Clayton: I'm going to say culture. I'll just add that one. Even though you only ask for three, we're giving you more.

Wendy Fong: Ding, ding, din, ding. Great guesses. So based on the SHRM 2021 survey on the great resignation, it showed 53% left for better compensation. Ding, ding, ding.

Amber Clayton: I said money.

Wendy Fong: That was the number one. 42% left for better work-life balance. Ding, ding, ding. Yep.

Monique Akanbi: Could be workplace flexibility.

Amber Clayton: Yes.

Wendy Fong: Yep. Workplace flexibility. And 36% left for better benefits. Ding, ding, ding.

Amber Clayton: I could totally see that.

Wendy Fong: And that could be workplace advancement, that could be tied into that as well.

Amber Clayton: Yeah.

Wendy Fong: Well, today we're going to focus on the benefits piece and discuss the type of benefits employers customarily provide, but also talk about benefits which employers may not have considered. And here are just some ideas that can actually help retain and attract employees. So are you ready for another quiz again?

Amber Clayton: Love it. Let's do it.

Monique Akanbi: Another quiz. Okay. I'm ready.

Amber Clayton: Okay.

Wendy Fong: What do you think are the top three benefits that employers typically offer?

Amber Clayton: Oh, I'm hitting my buzzers.

Monique Akanbi: Oh gosh, I'm slow again.

Amber Clayton: Health insurance. Health insurance.

Wendy Fong: Health insurance. Ding, ding, ding.

Monique Akanbi: I am going to say pet insurance because that seems to be a hot topic.

Amber Clayton: Ooh.

Wendy Fong: Yes. Pet insurance. Ding, ding, ding. Working at SHRM, they offer pet insurance options.

Amber Clayton: Ooh, I'm going to talk about that too. Let's see, how about 401ks?

Wendy Fong: 401k. Yep. Got to have that. Ding, ding, ding. Any last guesses, Monique? One last guess from you.

Monique Akanbi: Let's say disability. So short-term or long-term disability benefits.

Amber Clayton: That's a good one.

Wendy Fong: Yes. Love it Short-term or long-term disability. Let's see what the SHRM survey results say based on early 2022 market research. So nearly all organizations, all organizations, 98% offer some type of health coverage. 82%. Yeah. Ding, ding, ding. So you got that one. 82% selected retirement and savings as an important benefit. So 401k or pensions. And lastly, nearly all employers offered paid vacation leave, 99% or paid sick leave, which is 96% with two thirds, about 67% indicating they offered a bank of paid time off or PTO covering both vacation and sick time. That's really amazing to offer those type of benefits to think of the whole person when it comes to the employee in the organization, in the workplace.

Amber Clayton: Yeah, and I was thinking about the health insurance too. 98% doesn't surprise me, especially with the Affordable Care Act and how employers may get penalized if they don't offer affordable healthcare coverage to their employees. So I'm not so surprised about that. I think 99% paid vacation leave is great. Federal government doesn't require it. We know most states don't require it, but there are states and cities that do require paid sick leave. So I think 99% of employers offering paid leave vacation is great.

Monique Akanbi: Yeah, and then the 82% of retirement or savings benefits as well as we plan for the future and look forward to retirement on an island somewhere.

Wendy Fong: So let's talk about what benefits do you personally find most important and appealing and why?

Amber Clayton: So if you don't mind, I'm going to talk about this pet insurance for a minute that was just mentioned.

Wendy Fong: Yes. Go back to the pet insurance.

Amber Clayton: Yes, because I have pet insurance, and I have to say, many people have said, oh, don't waste your money on it, but I have pet insurance, and it's been a blessing for me. My dog actually had her gallbladder removed recently. It was $10,000.

Wendy Fong: Ooh, that's a lot of money.

Amber Clayton: And the insurance covered a good part of it, so thank goodness. And it was emergency surgery. She would've died had she not had it. So I'm just so thankful to be able to have that pet insurance. And for my dogs at least, I've used it. They've been to the emergency room more often than not. I've got one who likes to eat everything, and then the other one who just likes to snoop and everything. So for me, the pet insurance has been awesome.

Monique Akanbi: So the question, Amber, is how's your pet doing now?

Amber Clayton: She's actually doing really well.

Wendy Fong: That's great.

Monique Akanbi: Awesome.

Wendy Fong: Yes, we thought we weren't going to have her. She's nine years old, she's a little Shitzu, Bichon mix and yeah, she's doing well. So we're real happy about that. Even if I didn't have the insurance, I probably would've paid it anyhow, 'cause I love my dog, so that's just me.

Of course. Well, animals are becoming increasing... They're just part of the family. I have a cat, my cat, Mikey, he's 11 years old.

Amber Clayton: Mikey. That's cute.

Wendy Fong: He's one of my children.

Monique Akanbi: Yes.

Wendy Fong: We love them so much. So it just makes sense to have pet insurance because we have health insurance for ourselves and our family members. So why not have it for also our pets?

Monique Akanbi: And just think about the relief, right, Amber, knowing that you had pet insurance to cover such an emergency event.

Amber Clayton: Yeah, absolutely. I did have to pull out my credit card initially, and I had to look at them going, okay, which one has the highest amount on there that I could use? But then I was reimbursed, so it was great. And speaking of pets, I've heard of employers offering pet bereavement, which I think is great. I mean, wow. For me, I know I've lost pets in the past and it's horrible. Like you said, Wendy, it's just like a family member. So I think it's really cool that some employers are offering bereavement days for pets.

Monique Akanbi: No that's what I call inclusion.

Wendy Fong: Yes.

Amber Clayton: Absolutely.

Wendy Fong: Love it.

Amber Clayton: Absolutely.

Monique Akanbi: That's what I call inclusion. What about flexible workplaces? Because I know for me, flexibility is very important. I don't believe in work-life balance. I believe in work-life integration, and I compare that to workplace flexibility as well. And so especially during the last two years of the pandemic where at one point a lot of employers had to send their employees home recognizing that all of them had to, but a large majority of employers had to send their employees to work remotely. As we navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, some have adopted more flexible workplace policies, whether it's completely remote or a hybrid. So I was just curious as to your thoughts around workplace flexibility and also what you're seeing with other organizations.

Amber Clayton: So in the knowledge center, of course, we had many members who were contacting us over the past couple of years during the height of the pandemic with regards to sending employees home to work and what that means, what it requires as far as expenses. Do we have to pay for chairs, do we have to pay for internet service? Things like that. And of course those things, it depends on the state law and it depends on the employer's policies and practices or contract or collective bargaining agreements if there are some.

So there's a lot of things that have to be considered when employers are allowing employees to work from home, especially if they're working in another state, which we saw quite frequently where members were asking if employees could work in other states they were moving and they were kind of using this time during the pandemic to be able to work wherever they wanted to work.

But that's not always the case. An employer might have to set up a business in a certain state. And then there's taxability rules. So we definitely got a lot of questions around it. We know we are seeing from our members that employers are offering it more, definitely through our research, and that if employers aren't offering it, they're having some trouble keeping and getting talent. So that's a huge issue right now. But I think the flexibility piece of it is huge if you're an employer.

Monique Akanbi: Yeah, I know one of the things that I've shared with employers just in talking to them is we immediately go to remote work or hybrid work, and we recognize that not all positions have that ability to work remotely or even just work from home. And so I've challenged employers to think differently about workplace flexibility. Is it's you flexing their schedule, do they necessarily have to work eight to five? Do they necessarily have to work Monday through Friday or whatever their normal business hours are?

And it's not a one size fits all approach for their employees. I shared with the group actually last week where when I was in HR at a benefits broker, we had a call center and we offered a flexible schedule for them because being in a call center and answering calls for our customers, it was hard to schedule doctor's appointments because we really relied on our call center agents to be there to answer our customer calls. And so they went to actually a four-day work schedule where they worked 10 hours and had at least a workday off to schedule maybe some doctor visits as well. And we only offered it to that group because they had limited flexibility, but that was a way for us to offer flexibility to them.

Wendy Fong: That completely makes sense. And I love that too, that there's no one size fits all that an organization really has to be creative, think outside the box and what meets that group of employees needs best, especially with all that we have with technology. Before the pandemic and the shutdown, did everyone know how to use Zoom to the extent that we do now?

Amber Clayton: Unfortunately.

Monique Akanbi: Oh no, we're Zoom experts now.

Wendy Fong: So exactly. It opened up our eyes to a new way of communicating, a new wave of having meetings and collaborating. And even in this whole metaverse, if some companies adopting virtual reality and having meetings in virtual reality, it'd be interesting to see where the technology goes. But yes, thinking outside the box and pushing boundaries based on what the employees have to say, really hearing them out, seeing what their needs are.

Monique Akanbi: Yeah, actually, during the pandemic, I was practicing HR and I actually saw with our employees working remotely, there was a decrease in employee drama, employee relations went down significantly. And so we joked around about that, but there are some benefits directly and indirectly to workplace flexibility.

Amber Clayton: That's interesting though. I wonder though, if we're not going to see a change in that, only because as people start getting used to working at home, they're communicating via Slack or Team or all these different ways, and is it going to become social media where people are now bullying on these channels versus actively talking in front of someone or in a cubicle? It'll be interesting to see whether or not that changes if we start to have those types of harassment issues that are more written now versus where they might have been communicated verbally previously.

Monique Akanbi: Yeah, good point.

Wendy Fong: I would hope it's being monitored by the employer. If you're using a workplace tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams or Google Chat, that there's some sort of filters that it's being monitored to some extent for those type of keywords.

Amber Clayton: Yeah, monitoring has been an issue that has come up just because employers, they want to be able to monitor someone's work performance from home and their productivity. And so there's been questions around monitoring and what's acceptable or unacceptable. There are some state laws around monitoring. So you have to make sure that you look at those as an employer to make sure you're in compliance with the laws. There's things that you can and can't do.

For example, states might be a two-party consent state where if you're having a recording and audio... Sorry, y'all, my daughter just walked in, so the dog started barking. Yeah. So anyhow, with monitoring, you just have to ensure that you're in compliance with the state's laws when it comes to the consent of parties that are being recorded or that they're on the telephone with, or whether or not it's video recording, all of those things. But I know too, monitoring that could be a sticky issue sometimes with employees. Employees feel like maybe the managers don't trust them if they're having to be monitored all the time.

Monique Akanbi: Yeah, that's true. So I know that health coverage was one of the top benefits that organizations offer to their employees, but what about mental health and wellness? And the kind of canned response is always we have EAP, but to me, my opinion, EAP is not enough. And just wanted to get your thoughts, Amber, and your thoughts, Wendy, on around mental health and wellness benefits that employers are offering.

Amber Clayton: Well, we're definitely finding that employees want mental health and physical health benefits. We see that in our research, and I would agree with you, the employee assistance programs, EAPs, are great. I think sometimes employers are a little nervous about bringing up mental health or nervous about getting into those conversations with employees, but you could certainly do things like providing resources to your employees and making it clear that it's okay to have these conversations and that when you have that trust with your manager, you have a tendency to be able to speak open and freely with them.

And so sometimes you're able to talk through things that are happening. Of course, the employers are not psychiatrists, psychologists, anything like that. You don't want to give any kind of medical advice or anything, but I think it's helpful for employees when they have that transparency and open communication and honesty, especially with their managers 'cause I feel like I'm okay, for example, if I tell my boss that I'm just having a bad mental day, I'm stressed, I've got anxiety, anything like that, I feel comfortable telling my manager that.

Monique Akanbi: And I think one of the biggest misconceptions is we confuse mental health with mental illness. And I don't think any of us are skilled to address mental illness, and I think that's one of the items employers think of immediately when they think about mental health versus mental illness. And it's not mental illness is more of mental health.

Wendy Fong: That's a good point though, because mental illness, it is an invisible disability that people struggle with. So if someone does have a mental illness, also rethinking the healthcare coverage and seeing if the coverage is offered for assistance in any type of mental illness. And just looking at the whole benefits package, like the EAP programs, how extensive are they? Is it easy to access? What's the process like in the employee journey to access those events? How many hurdles do they have to go through before they can talk to a therapist?

Monique Akanbi: And I know the SHRM Foundation has done research around mental health in the workplace and provided some strategies for employers to adopt, and one of the strategies that stuck out for me was having a customized approach and not a one size fits all approach. And it actually made me think about myself and our employees as well. When we typically refer someone to EAP, let's say they're experiencing a life event and just need counseling or guidance related to the event that they're experiencing, I know for myself, being an African American and in the black community, therapy is not something that we go to immediately.

We will pray things away before we go see a therapist. So that made me think about employees and their upbringings and their culture and how receptive they are to... I'm just using therapy as one option, but that tends to be the go-to. So how do we offer resources in addition to what's already included in EAP to help them navigate through those events?

Amber Clayton: I think that sometimes though with the EAP programs, and each employer would need to contact their own EAP service or reach out to their benefits broker, but there are things that employers can do, such as offering stress training or some type of sessions around mindfulness, around maybe meditation, some of those things that you might not think about. So it's not just sending or referring somebody to the EAP to find therapy, but rather using the EAP resources or your health insurance resources to bring people into the organization, maybe speakers or have some type of video sessions or something that employees can participate in that can help to improve their mental health.

Wendy Fong: And mental health and wellness, not just for the employee, but does your benefits cover other people in the family that may need mental health wellness? That could be something to think about too.

Amber Clayton: Yeah, it could be really stressful dealing with a family member who has mental health issues, even if it's not for that particular employee, I think would be great to have those resources available for their families as well.

Monique Akanbi: And if you're a parent of teenagers, I'm praying for you because listen, we all need-

Amber Clayton: I have an 18 year old,

Wendy Fong: 12-year-old,

Monique Akanbi: My 13-year-old son. I told him, I don't know, he's in that weird middle school phase and this is his last year, and I'm like, I love you, but I don't like you. And I think it's just hormones and puberty. But yes.

Amber Clayton: You remember that show where they had to swap spouses? What if you swapped kids? Let's do that and see how well they do in each different environment.

Monique Akanbi: That's what I told my son. I'm like, listen, you can go to another household, but you'll come running back.

Amber Clayton: Oh, that's too funny.

Wendy Fong: Well, hopefully if there's any TV producers out there listening, that's the next pitch for our reality show and we'll all be the hosts.

Monique Akanbi: Yes.

Amber Clayton: Yes. That would be awesome. That would be awesome. So one of the things I heard about on the news the other day was about naps, providing naps for employees and nap rooms and nap pods. And I'm a napper. When I work from home, sometimes I like to take a nap on my lunch break or even on the weekends, especially when it's raining, I want to take a nap. I think that's just me getting old and I just love naps. But anyhow, I think it would be great. I think sometimes if you're so tired that you really can't keep your eyes open, you're not being productive, why not provide a space for someone to take a short nap? I'm okay with it.

Monique Akanbi: Growing up, my mom used to make us take a nap and I hated it as a kid. Now, I wish someone would force me to take a nap, just a good five 10-minute power nap. That's all you need to be energized. So I am all for it. I love a good nap.

Wendy Fong: Yes, power nap. Well, the research has shown, even taking up to a 20-minute nap during the day is beneficial because basically you're giving your brain and body a chance to rest, but I know any longer than 20 minutes, you might start feeling a little groggy when you wake up. At my last organization, they had the lactation room and nap room kind of be the same room because it wasn't utilized very often. So since lactation rooms are a little more required in, I don't know if all states, but in some states that you could convert it to a nap room if it's not being used as well.

Monique Akanbi: And speaking of kids in naps, I'm starting to see an increasing trend of not just maternity leave, but paternity leave as well and allowing dad's to take time off for either the birth or adoption of a child. So I think that's pretty neat that we are also including fathers and benefits that are typically or has historically been offered to "mothers."

Amber Clayton: So most people may not be aware of this, but if an employer offers maternity leave, and that's for the medical side of it, having the child, whether it's a C-section or a natural childbirth giving, most employers might give a six to eight weeks. Then of course, and this is excluding the FMLA, the Family Medical Leave Act part of it, but if an employer gives maternity leave for baby bonding, they should really be given the same thing to the fathers as well, otherwise it could be perceived as discriminatory. So something to think about as an employer when you're looking at your leave policies is ensuring that they are not discriminatory in any way. So if you're giving mothers six weeks to bond with the baby, give the fathers six weeks to bond with the baby.

Wendy Fong: Or even for same-sex couples, what if there's two women or two individuals that are [inaudible] in their relationship? And for those that adopt, I don't know if your policy for maternity or paternity leave covers those that adopt or foster kids.

Amber Clayton: Yeah, many of them do. Well, the ones that are not required by law to do it, of course, some of those employers may not provide it specific for adoption or foster care, but there are federal and state laws that provide job protected leave as well for those reasons.

Monique Akanbi: So I have a hot topic, student loan debt or repayment assistance.

Amber Clayton: Yes. I personally don't need it, but I think it's awesome. I wish that more employers would offer it for their employees children, because my daughter just started college this year, so that would be awesome if we can help get some of that paid. But I know not many employers offer it for the children, but they'll offer it for the employees.

Wendy Fong: I think that's absolutely necessary, especially... Well, I don't know if it's my generation or younger generations, everyone I know in my age group or younger has student loan debt to some capacity. I graduated with my bachelor's and I had $50,000 in debt because I had to pay for myself through college, and I just paid it off last year. Yay.

Amber Clayton: Woo-hoo! I betcha that's a big weight lifted off of your shoulders.

Wendy Fong: Yes, absolutely. I feel free. The chains of student debt have been broken. Now can I start saving for our house? But it has delayed certain life milestones in my life, and I know other people as well because we have this burden of student loan debt that we have to take care of first. And then SHRM just announced that for our employees that they would have some sort of student loan assistance. So that is really great to hear. And every little bit helps, even if it's not a lot.

Monique Akanbi: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Amber Clayton: So I have something, I know a lot of employers don't really think about these things as we talked about it, the top health insurance, 401k, disability, vision, dental, all of those things, but I would love it if more employers would offer services, like discounts on oil changes, car washing. I had to go get my car cleaned out over the weekend, and I was thinking, gosh, wouldn't it be great to have a discounted program for this or maybe a service? I know at least one business that I'm aware of had actually provided washing where they came into the garage or into the parking lot and offered the service to the employees while they were working. And I thought that was really cool.

Monique Akanbi: Yes. I know a school actually a few years ago that during teacher appreciation week, they contracted with a detailer to wash all of their teacher's cars, and they came to the school and wash them for them, but oh my gosh.

Wendy Fong: Nice.

Amber Clayton: Wow.

Monique Akanbi: Signed me up for that immediately.

Amber Clayton: I know, right? I think that would be great. And what a great thing as a motivator or to just recognize employees. Maybe if you can't do it for all the employees, maybe your star employees, maybe that's like a recognition program or something. You get your card fully detailed instead of getting a gift card or something like that. I think that would be really cool. And I feel like that's really creative.

Wendy Fong: Oh, yeah, I'd take that over a Starbucks gift card.

Amber Clayton: Right?

Wendy Fong: Clean my car, please.

Amber Clayton: Exactly. And there's emails that we get, and I'm sure other employers have used it, I know I've used it in my other companies, but places that give you discount tickets on amusement parks, concerts, discounts on car rentals. I know many employers don't use those or don't reach out, but I actually have, and it's been really cool. I've saved quite a bit of money on using the discounts that have offered through those programs, through the employers.

Monique Akanbi: Yeah, I love a good discount. So anywhere there is one, I immediately look for coupons, so that that is a great benefit. I'm also seeing employers offer in the realm of development, a development benefit is allowing their employees to choose maybe a course or pick up a skill that's not necessarily related to their position at work.

For example, my sister-in-law a few years ago when she had her one-on-one with her supervisor, feedback her supervisor gave her was what is something that you would like to do just to loosen up? Anything, just stress free, what is it that you would like to do? And she said ziplining. And I was surprised that she responded with ziplining, but her supervisor said, okay, sign up for it and we'll pay for you and one other person to go and just do ziplining.

And so she called me and we went to a place in North Carolina and we did ziplining. Now, I've been there, done that, I don't ever have to zipline again. It was about a two hour Zipline tour with the mile hike that ended. And it was fun, but I thought, wow, what a way to just kind of invest into the employee without it being directly tied to their position at their job.

Amber Clayton: While you're thinking, wow, I'm thinking, how many calls would we get from members asking whether or not that's a worker's compensation liability?

Monique Akanbi: Yeah, she took the day off, so it wasn't company time, but she's like, listen, we'll pay for it. I know, I think I was talking to someone else and they were sharing that their daughter took a cooking class. I think it was like an eight week cooking class, and her employer paid for it, and it had nothing to do with her position, but it was just something for her to do outside of work.

Amber Clayton: And they didn't expect her to cook for her colleagues or anything?

Monique Akanbi: Nope.

Amber Clayton: No. Okay.

Wendy Fong: What a memorable experience. I would remember that for the rest of my life, my company paid for this experience.

Monique Akanbi: Yes.

Amber Clayton: Wow.

Wendy Fong: That's really thinking outside of the box. I love it.

Amber Clayton: Well, speaking of that, I don't know if you've had this in your past experience, but I can remember in my past experience that we were actually taken on a yacht. Now, this was not with SHRM, it was with another company, but we were taken on a yacht. They took us to St. Michael's. We ended up going to a seafood restaurant. We had crabs and everything. And it was the company that actually was doing the construction on our building, the gentleman owned a yacht, and so all of the employees got to go on it, and I just thought it was the greatest thing. And I still remembered to this day, it was 20 years ago. So those kinds of benefits, if you can get them from within your company, it was just so much fun and so memorable. And while it's not necessarily a benefit that you're going to get every year, it's great to be able to have those once in a lifetime events with your employees

Monique Akanbi: Yes. And assess your risk first.

Amber Clayton: That is true. That is true. Again, another worker's compensation. Thinking about that. We've talked about a lot of really great benefits here. I know there's many more that we haven't talked about. Things like massages and healthy food options.

Monique Akanbi: I love a massage.

Amber Clayton: Floating holidays and pets, which we already talked about. Transportation subsidies and things like that. I don't know that we would be able to get into all of them, but I feel like these are some really great things that employers could use to help engage, retain, attract their employees. Anything else that I missed that we haven't talked about that we really want to get out to our audience?

Wendy Fong: Okay, so I love my food delivery subscription to order whatever I want to, especially during the pandemic, I would just order my boba and it would be delivered to our house within 30 minutes, or any restaurant that we wanted to that we're raving food. I love trying different restaurants on there. Ooh, there's a deal. Let me try that restaurant. And also they can do pickup too. So that's something cool to check out. You can pick up.

Amber Clayton: I just don't think I'm tech savvy enough yet. My daughter orders through those things all the time, and I don't know, I'm just going to take my car up the road and go through the drive-through.

Monique Akanbi: Yeah, my kids are the same way, Amber. Just last night actually, my son wanted cookies and he ordered cookies to be delivered to the house.

Amber Clayton: Oh, is it that cookie one, the one that does it overnight?

Monique Akanbi: Yes. Yes.

Amber Clayton: Okay.

Monique Akanbi: Which shall be unnamed, but yes.

Amber Clayton: Yes, I've heard of this. I've heard this through my daughter, so that's funny.

Monique Akanbi: Yes.

Wendy Fong: And groceries too. You could order groceries on it to have it delivered from major grocery stores or convenience stores. There's lots of different stores in the network too.

Monique Akanbi: Yeah. I think ultimately when thinking about benefits that you offer your employees is just a matter of convenience is the biggest thing, right? Because we're so consumed at work, I always say we spend most of our awake hours at work, and whether that is in a brick and mortar office or at home. And so the ability for employers to offer some level of convenience and flexibility to their employees is an on-target benefit.

Wendy Fong: Yep, absolutely.

Amber Clayton: And if you get this delivery services, think about, like you said, the convenience, the time that if I'm coming home from work, by the time I get home, I'm tired. I don't want to go to the grocery store. How great is that to be able to offer at that and have my groceries delivered at the time that I'm arriving back at home?

Wendy Fong: And I did want to mention too, so all these benefits are really great, and you could just offer all these benefits to your employees, but is it really meeting the needs of your workplace culture and your demographic? So really doing the research and looking into your different demographics, are your benefits inclusive? Is it diverse enough? Is it creating equity? So yes, it'd be great to offer all of these, but is it really meeting the needs of your employees?

Monique Akanbi: Yes.

Amber Clayton: Yeah, I think that's a really great point and probably a good ending point for us. I feel like we've talked about a lot. So with that, we have come to the end of our show. And for listeners who are members of SHRM, you can connect with other HR colleagues at shrm.org, and you could also connect with our SHRM's knowledge center, ask one of our advisors any questions related to benefits at shrm.org/HRhelp. Thanks, Monique and Wendy for joining me to discuss this topic today.

Monique Akanbi: You're welcome. It was a pleasure. Yes.

Wendy Fong: Yes. I'm excited to have Monique on our first episode together.

Amber Clayton: Welcome, welcome. We're excited. And for our listeners, this podcast is approved to provide recertification PDCs, but again, only if you listen to the full episode and after you've listened, you're eligible to enter this activity ID: 23-H5W2H. That's for recertification PDCs in your SHRM certification portal. And if you haven't already, please subscribe so you'll never miss an episode.

And be sure to rate and review the show wherever you listen to podcast. Who knows? We might read your review on a future episode. Feel free to reach out to me. You could find me on Twitter @SHRMAClayton. I'm also on LinkedIn, and you could also reach our other host here, Wendy and Monique on LinkedIn and Twitter. And if you'd like to learn more about the Honest HR Podcast, about myself or the other host, or to get additional information and resources on what was discussed in today's episode, head on over to shrm.org/honesthr. Thanks again for joining us on Honest HR.

Monique Akanbi: Thank you.

Wendy Fong: Thank you.