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13 Inclusive Employee Benefits To Consider for Your Company

 

You might not realize it, but your employee benefits could be unintentionally excluding some of your employees. If you’re working on your diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, reviewing your benefits package is something to add to the efforts. Ensuring you offer inclusive employee benefits makes your company more friendly to all types of employees.

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What are inclusive employee benefits?

Inclusive employee benefits are things that positively impact all your employees, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, background, work location or other factors. They’re often flexible and customizable to work for people with different needs, such as someone who celebrates different holidays or has a domestic partner.

Why you should offer diversity and inclusion benefits

If you’re focused on creating an inclusive workplace, updating your benefits package is a good start. Offering perks that benefit all types of employees can help you make everyone feel welcome and valued. Employees who have different needs can have them fulfilled, which can reduce their stress levels. For example, someone who’s in a domestic partnership and can get healthcare coverage for their partner doesn’t have to worry about affording medical care for them.

Making your benefits more inclusive can help you with your recruitment efforts. Diverse candidates appreciate the opportunity to receive those useful benefits and understand that you value a diverse workforce. Your inclusive benefits can help you gain a positive reputation among job seekers.

Inclusive employee benefits to consider

Knowing what benefits of an inclusive workplace you need to offer can be difficult at first, especially if you didn’t realize your benefits were excluding people. Sometimes you simply need to adjust your current benefits slightly to make them more compatible for everyone. Other times, you might need to add completely new benefits to fill a gap. Here are some common inclusive employee benefits to consider.

1. Broader medical coverage

Expanded medical coverage lets employees get the coverage they need for themselves and their dependents. Choosing employer healthcare plans that allow domestic partners to be covered is more inclusive for LGBTQ+ families and people who choose not to get married.

Select plans with broad coverage, including gender-affirming care. Consider the preferred providers of various plans. To be inclusive, your medical coverage should include providers who meet various employees’ needs, such as those who offer gender-affirming care and bilingual providers. Diverse preferred providers make it easier for your diverse employees to find healthcare providers from their same background, which can result in better healthcare.

2. Domestic partner benefits

In addition to healthcare coverage that accepts domestic partners, extend other benefits to domestic partners. For example, if you let employees purchase life insurance policies for their spouses through your plan, extend the offer to domestic partners. When creating your bereavement leave policy, treat domestic partners the same way you do spouses regarding the amount of time off.

3. Mental healthcare access

Mental healthcare is crucial for all employees. People who belong to diverse groups might have an even bigger need for mental healthcare. Feeling excluded, dealing with unconscious bias and feeling isolated if you’re the only one representing a certain group can wear on a person’s mental health. Many diverse employees also experience overt discrimination in life, even if it doesn’t happen at the workplace. Having access to affordable mental healthcare is crucial.

4. Flexible holidays

Not everyone celebrates the same holidays or important days. Religion, ethnicity and culture often impact the days that are significant to a person. If you still have set holidays for employees, consider switching to a floating holiday model. This lets employees decide which days they want to have off as holidays to better accommodate their beliefs and celebrations.

5. Additional PTO

Unlimited PTO can also accommodate employees with different cultural and religious reasons to celebrate. They can take time off to accommodate those special days. Unlimited PTO can benefit employees with disabilities who might have frequent medical appointments or periods when their symptoms worsen and they can’t work. Having plenty of PTO also makes it easier for parents who might need to stay home when a child is sick or their normal daycare is closed.

6. Flexible work options

Flexible work options make it easier for all employees to balance their jobs with their family responsibilities. Having the option to work from home can benefit parents who want to be near their kids and caregivers who need to provide supervision to a loved one. Working from home can also support people from different socioeconomic backgrounds who might struggle to afford commuting and other expenses associated with working at the office. Being flexible with working hours can also benefit people who have other commitments or need to work around a partner’s schedule.

7. Parental time off for everyone

Maternity leave for new mothers is the traditional form of parental leave. However, this excludes fathers, who might want to spend time bonding with babies. It can also include LGBTQ+ couples, regardless of gender. For instance, if a lesbian couple has a baby, only the partner who gave birth might qualify for maternity leave. Adoptive parents also face issues with getting the type of parental leave they need after adopting a child.

Create a gender-neutral parental leave policy that allows all parents to take time off when a new child joins the family. Include both childbirth and adoption in the policy. This allows all new families to have time to bond with less stress for the new parents.

8. Caregiver benefits

Some employees have extensive caregiver duties, and it’s not always caring for their kids. Many people choose to take care of their parents or loved ones when they can’t take care of themselves. These multigenerational family situations add stress to the employee’s life. By offering caregiver benefits, such as reimbursements for paid caregiving or flexible time off for unexpected situations, you let those employees fulfill their duties to work and family.

9. Family-creating benefits

Another way to support families or employees who want to start families is by offering family-building benefits. These benefits help offset the cost of starting or growing a family. That might include coverage for fertility treatments, adoption, surrogacy and other options. Ensure these benefits are available to all employees, not just heterosexual couples.

10. Diverse wellness programs

Wellness programs are common in the workplace, but it’s important that the program includes all employees. You can make your wellness program more inclusive in several ways, including:

  • Providing wellness videos and printed materials in various languages and formats
  • Addressing health concerns for different groups, such as diseases and health risks that are more prevalent in certain ethnic groups
  • Diversifying offerings to meet the needs of all ages
  • Offering memberships to an accessible gym to accommodate employees with disabilities
  • Making all language in wellness program materials inclusive
  • Creating wellness challenges that don’t exclude people based on disabilities or physical limitations
  • Ensuring nutritional components are sensitive to cultural foods and economic situations

11. Career development and education benefits

Diverse employees often have fewer opportunities for advancement or have to work harder for their promotions. Support all employees by offering career development options and educational assistance. This gives everyone access to new skills and degrees that can help them climb the ladder.

12. Remote worker support

If you have some employees who work remotely, ensure you have a robust support system to help them feel included. Online collaboration tools can improve communication regardless of location and make remote employees feel supported. Including all employees in team-building and socialization activities as much as possible remotely can also help. Make sure remote employees have access to the same tools and training opportunities as the employees who work in the office.

13. Pet insurance

Benefits for parents are mentioned frequently, but not all employees have human kids. Many do, however, have fur babies. Pets are often treated like children, so offering pet insurance can be a nice perk for your pet parents. It can relieve financial stress for your employees who are pet owners.

Best practices for inclusive benefit packages

When revamping your benefits package, the following best practices can make the process easier and more effective.

Review your current benefits

Before you change anything, look at your current benefits from an equity perspective. Some of your benefits might already meet the needs of a diverse audience. Others might need some changes to improve. Look through the benefits critically to see if they unintentionally discriminate against or leave out certain groups.

Ask for employee feedback

Your employees are the best source of information on what types of changes they would like to see in their benefits. Create a survey for all employees, not just those who fit a diverse profile. Include detailed questions about how well the current benefits you offer fit their needs. Ask for suggestions on additional benefits you can offer that would make the overall compensation package more beneficial.

Check the budget

Your benefits budget isn’t endless, so it’s important to balance what your employees need with how much you can spend. Some diverse changes won’t affect the budget much, if at all. For example, floating holidays are paid the same as fixed holidays — they might fall on different pay periods. You might find that making your benefits more inclusive isn’t as expensive as you think.

Remove exclusive terminology from benefit policies and information

While you’re reviewing your benefits, don’t forget to check your policy and informational guides that describe the benefits to your employees. Many words in those materials can make people feel excluded. Use gender-neutral language and eliminate words like “spouse” that exclude people with domestic partners. Rephrase anything that doesn’t sound inclusive and nondiscriminatory.

Review your benefits frequently

Regular audits help ensure your benefits package remains inclusive. New needs among your employees might arise as you diversify your workforce. Your benefits budget might also increase in the future, which allows you to add new perks that you previously couldn’t afford.

Inform employees about benefit options

Employees might not notice quiet changes to your benefits package, which makes the new perks easy to miss. Send information to all employees whenever you change the benefits package to make it more inclusive. Describe how the new benefits will work or what you’re changing about the old benefits. This ensures employees know about the changes and can start taking advantage of them immediately.

Make it part of a larger DEI effort

Inclusive employee benefits can help your staff financially and reduce stress, but they’re not the only things you should work on to improve DEI in your workplace. Make inclusive benefits part of a large DEI push to improve your workplace culture. This might include modifying your company policies to support diversity or changing your hiring practices to increase diversity in your workforce. Incorporating diversity efforts across the board can help you see better results.

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