Whether you realize it or not, the benefits you offer could exlude some of your employees. Even basics like healthcare benefits might not cover their specific needs.
If improving your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts is one of your main priorities (it should be), your benefits package is the perfect place to start. You can evaluate and update it quickly. And small tweaks to your current benefits can make a huge positive impact on your employees.
In this article, we'll show you our favorite inclusive benefits, so you can support all your employees equally.
What are inclusive employee benefits?
Inclusive employee benefits are non-wage compensation all employees within an organization can access and benefit from, regardless of their gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, work location, financial status, or any other characteristics.
Inclusive benefits foster an equitable work environment where everyone feels accepted and respected. And they communicate to your current and potential employees that you are a company that supports diversity and inclusion.
An inclusive benefits package supports a diverse workforce.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become one of the hottest topics in the last half-decade. Between the growth of remote work, changes in the global workforce, and an increased focus on hiring diverse candidates, there are numerous areas underrepresented groups could potentially feel excluded.
Nowadays, four out of every five employees want to work for a company focusing on diversity efforts.
There are clear benefits to an inclusive workplace:
- Employees want it. Glassdoor found that more than three-quarters (76%) of employees considered a diverse workforce one of the most important factors when evaluating a company.
- Broader (and better) range of talent. When job seekers see your company prioritizes inclusivity, you're a lot higher on their list when they evaluate offers. And, eliminating unconscious bias from the hiring process means you'll see more top talent for what they are.
- Better workplace culture. When a company fosters an inclusive environment, employees feel safe to express themselves and share ideas without fear or judgment. This leads to higher job satisfaction, greater trust in management, better collaboration between teams, and more investment in the company.
Whether you're just starting to build your DEI program or you're refining it, you have to take a holistic approach to your employee benefits. Since most of your employees will enroll in benefits, how well they support everyone is a telltale sign of your program as a whole.
10 employee benefits that promote an inclusive environment
The whole point of an employee benefits package is to support everyone. But a lot of traditional benefits only appeal to a specific audience or don’t offer enough protection for those with unique needs.
Maternity vs. paternity leave is the perfect example. More than half of U.S. companies offer the former, but just 21% of companies include the latter. Offering one but not the other completely excludes male single parents and households with two fathers.
There isn't anything wrong with not realizing that right away. Most companies don't.
But there is something wrong with realizing it and not doing something to change it.
1. Broader medical coverage
When you assess gaps in your current benefits package, the first place you should look is medical coverage. It's the main benefit your employees will enroll in regardless of gender, race, or age.
Most medical plans offer coverage for the basics. But you need to go further to make sure all members of your team can access the care they need.
To support diversity through your medical benefits, here are a few tips:
- Offer healthcare plans that allow coverage for domestic partners to include LGBTQ+ households and support families that choose not to get married.
- Find a healthcare provider that supports gender-affirming care, which provides access to transition-related care for transgender and nonbinary employees.
- Include coverage of fertility treatments, such as IVF, which can help couples who would otherwise have difficulty conceiving. In 2020, 42% of large companies covered this.
- Have options for bilingual coverage, such as telehealth visits in Spanish.
- Consider plans with a more nationwide reach so your remote employees can all access the care they need.
If it isn't economically feasible for your organization to cover all these benefits right away, it's a good idea to send out an employee benefits survey. Based on employee feedback, you can decide which healthcare benefits are most important to your workforce.
2. Mental health services
If you have five employees, one of them suffers from a mental illness. According to data from Metnal Health America, 19.86% of U.S. adults — or 50 million Americans — experience some sort of mental illness.
But mental healthcare goes beyond that. Stress is the more prolific mental health challenge in the workplace. Roughly 78% of the global workforce says it impacts their performance at work.
There are a lot of reasons for this:
- Poor financial wellbeing
- Unconscious bias
- Overt discrimination
- Lack of employee resources
- Job insecurity
- Difficulty making connections as a remote employee
Every employee needs something different from mental healthcare. Providing them all with equal access to affordable mental health resources ensures they can find a solution that works for them.
Some of the most important ones include:
- Counseling (in-person and telehealth)
- Substance abuse treatment
- Meditation apps and mindfulness programs
- Stress management courses
- Access to text-based apps
3. Domestic partner benefits
Not everyone chooses to get married. Healthcare coverage that supports those who don't helps them avoid potential health risks that come with a lack of insurance. But you should extend your other family benefits to domestic partners as well.
Suppose your employees can purchase life insurance for their spouses and children. While this is traditionally available to those in a married relationship, it's still essential for unmarried couples and their children.
You can also provide domestic partner benefits for other services, such as:
- Dental and vision insurance cover
- 401(k) contributions
- Child care benefits
- Access to company events, vehicles, etc.
When you create your bereavement benefits policy, make sure you don't exclude domestic partners. They might not have the same legal rights as those in a married relationship, but they aren't immune to grief. Treat them the same in regards to time off.
4. Flexible paid holidays
Every company offers time off for Christmas, Easter, and other holidays Christians and Catholics celebrate each year. But religion, ethnicity, and cultural background dramatically impact which holidays employees observe.
It's not just about giving everyone time off on their special days, either. People don't always celebrate the same way. Some of these celebrations require more than one day.
Chinese New Year is a 15-day celebration that includes several national holidays in China and other countries like Singapore and Vietnam. The Jewish holiday Hanukkah lasts eight days.
Floating holidays are a good start, but they don't go far enough. Explicitly state in your policy diverse employees have the freedom to observe their religious and cultural holidays without restriction.
5. Additional (or unlimited) PTO
The best way to ensure you don't exclude certain groups when offering time off for the holidays is to make PTO unlimited. Plus, your employees can celebrate privately if they choose. They can mark their PTO and enjoy their time off without disclosing a thing.
Unlimited PTO supports diverse teams in other ways, too. Employees with disabilities can extra time off to manage their conditions. Those with children will find it easier to take a day off if their regular daycare is closed or their child gets sick.
Just 8% of companies offer unlimited PTO. Being among the first means you'll have a lot easier of a time hiring a broad range of talent.
6. Adoption benefits
Adopting a child doesn't require frequent medical appointments like pregnancy does, but it's still a major time investment. Adoption is a lengthy process that can take anywhere from several months to over a year.
As such, adoptive parents require time off and financial assistance. A comprehensive adoption benefit should include coverage for the following:
- Reasonable expenses for legal fees, court costs, traveling expenses for medical appointments related to the adoption, and more
- Paid leave for adoptive parents
- An adoption assistance program that covers any gap between the expense reimbursement and the total cost of adoption
7. Parental leave for everyone
One of the biggest trends in employee benefits is supporting your workforce at every stage of life. For most, the biggest stage is starting a family.
Family building benefits should support your entire workforce, not just the traditional mother/father nuclear family. Provide the same benefits to employees who are single parents (maternity and paternity leave), working with a surrogate, or using adoption and foster care.
Family stipends are a fantastic way to include everyone — even those who don't need dedicated programs for adoption, fertility, or surrogacy. These payments help with the costs associated with welcoming a new baby, such as childcare or home renovations.
8. Diverse employee health and wellness programs
Employee wellbeing is the difference between a happy and productive workforce and one that's one foot out the door. For diversity and inclusion, wellness benefits like gym memberships, nutrition coaching, and drug-free workplace programs make for better overall health outcomes.
But some wellness benefits are more tailored to specific backgrounds. For example, a lot of nutrition coaching fails to account for certain cultures' food preferences.
You can make your health and wellness program more inclusive in several ways:
- Making all your wellness content available in multiple languages/formats
- Accounting for different age groups when creating program activities
- Providing memberships to gyms accessible to employees with disabilities
- Creating health and wellness challenges/incentives that don't exclude people with disabilities
To simplify things, the smartest way to offer inclusive benefits like these is to give employees a health and wellness stipend. That way, they can use the money for any activities, programs, or services that fit their needs. In that sense, they're "automatically" inclusive.
9. Flexible schedules or remote work options
PTO and paid holidays are just one side of the coin. It's just as important for employees to work (somewhat) on their own terms.
Remote work isn't always possible. Just 12.7% of full-time employees work from home. But a hybrid model, coupled with inclusive PTO and holiday policies, makes it easier for others to take care of their non-work needs.
It also supports team members no matter their socioeconomic background. Commuting to work is expensive. For the lowest-earning employees, transportation costs can eat up nearly a quarter of their salary.
Flexible schedules or remote work options help employees save money while still meeting work deadlines.
10. Career development and education opportunities
Help every employee have an equal chance at climbing the ladder. Offer continual learning opportunities, mentorships, and leadership development programs open to everyone in the organization.
Also consider offering tuition reimbursement and student loan assistance to support employees with diverse backgrounds with financial challenges preventing them from completing their degrees or getting specialized certifications.
Quick tips for offering your inclusive employee benefits package
- Don't prioritize certain underrepresented groups in the name of diversity and inclusion. That only shifts the exclusion from one group to the other.
- Make sure all content is available in multiple languages and formats for full accessiblity.
- Put the onus on employees to take advantage of their benefits package. If you have low enrollment, promote it more and ask what they'd like to change.
- Offer special wellness programs tailored to specific backgrounds and cultures prevalent in your workplace (such as nutrition coaching).
- Think about other aspects of the employee experience, such as office design, ergonomics, and performance management when supporting employees with disabilities.
- Supporting your remote workers is just as important. Offer benefits that make them feel included in team activities.
- Invite feedback from employees on their benefits package to make sure you're meeting their needs.
Compt makes it easy to create a more inclusive workplace.
Even with all the employee data at your fingertips, you probably won't hit the nail right on the head if you design your benefits program yourself. There are too many nuances.
The smartest (and easiest and most cost-effective) option is to use software to offer inclusive perks and benefits.
That way, you can manage rewards and recognition, benefits administration, expenses, and reimbursements for all your employees. In one place.
Plus, it makes tax compliance a whole lot easier.