Originally published on CBSPulse.com
As more hardworking Americans look to their employer to provide them with opportunities to save a little extra cash, companies often overlook the fact that employees who like and appreciate their benefits also tend to be happier and more productive. Many Consumer-Directed Benefits, or CDBs, generate meaningful tax advantages while also increasing workforce productivity.
According to a study by Workplace Trends and CareerArc, when organizations implemented a more flexible work environment, employees were happier and worked harder — 87 percent saw improved employee satisfaction and 71 percent saw an increase in productivity. Providing benefits that allow for additional flexibility and making child care, dependent care, healthcare and commuting more affordable also makes employees more employable and productive.
Productivity and Commuters
Given that U.S. commuters spend about 42 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, you might be hard-pressed to find many people who truly enjoy their commute to and from work. Not only is commuting a drain on precious time, it also adds up financially. Research shows heavy traffic, which results in increased fuel usage, can end up costing commuters an average of $960 per person per year.
Employees aren’t the only ones feeling the commuting pain. The stress and financial burden on employees can negatively impact their company’s bottom line: long commute times may increase employee tardiness and absenteeism rates, plus costly commutes, which eat into employees’ hard-earned paychecks, could drive them to look elsewhere for employment, resulting in turnover and costs to recruit and train new hires.
Commuting is an inevitable part of most employees’ lives, so organizations should do what they can to ease some of the associated financial and emotional burden. Americans can save an average of 30 percent on their commuting expenses when they take advantage of pre-tax commuter benefits, which lower the cost of things like parking, garage fees and the purchase of public transit cards. Commuter benefits have been deemed so critical that metropolitan cities like New York have implemented a transit law that requires city employers with more than 20 full-time employees to provide transit benefits. Whether your employees rely on public transportation or drive and pay to park, implementing pre-tax commuter benefits helps individuals stretch their hard-earned dollars even further, and shows that you care about their well-being, and results in a happier and more productive workforce.
Productivity and Health
It should come as no surprise that a healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. According to a survey from SHRM, both job candidates and employees report that job satisfaction and health care benefits take priority over salary.
Conversely, when employees aren’t given the healthcare benefits they desire, they’re more likely to shrug off a cold or suffer through back pain than take a sick day or go to the doctor. This results in presenteeism—when people come to work despite illness, injury or stress. A studyfocusing on absenteeism and presenteeism showed that an organization’s lost productivity costs are 2.3 times higher than an individual’s medical and pharmacy costs when presenteeism prevails. In addition, research consistently shows that an employer’s costs from health-related reduced productivity dwarf those of providing health insurance.
Investing in robust portfolios of healthcare plans and pre-tax benefits, such as Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or a Health Savings Accounts (HSA), will not only keep employees healthier, but also produce a greater return on their productivity and the company’s bottom line.
Productivity and Family
With a generational change revolutionizing the workforce, individuals are looking for a different kind of benefit when seeking employment: company flexibility. In fact, research reveals that 75 percent of employees rank flexibility as their most desired benefit.
For employees with children or other dependents in their care, pre-tax benefits for dependents, such as a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA), can offer the flexibility and financial help necessary to care for their loved ones. By making dependent care more affordable, employers who offer such cost savings opportunities to employees can improve recruitment and retention efforts, reduce tardiness and absenteeism in the workplace, and increase employee morale and productivity.
The Bottom Line
Some of the best productivity tools are already at companies’ disposal in the form of Consumer-Directed Benefits. The first step is to offer the benefits and then encourage employees to enroll and save. Both employees and employers stand to reap the rewards, as employees will be able to take better care of themselves and their families, making them happier, healthier, more productive members of your workforce.