Benefits à la Carte

Updated October 2022. First published February 2018.


Benefits costs seem to rise yearly, making it challenging for employers to choose benefits to offer their employees. In addition, according to BenefitsPro, “the Great Resignation has made attracting and retaining top talent more important, but also more difficult.” A well planned benefits package can help employers stay competitive in the market and affects various HR initiatives, such as employee retention and hiring. To add to an already tough decision-making process, employee expectations around benefits may vary. Since individual values differ from person to person, a traditional one-size-fits-all benefits program is unlikely to include all these desired benefits and may no longer be the optimal solution.


With so much change over the past few years and many organizations rethinking their traditional onsite model, leaders are reevaluating how they invest in benefits. Employers will need to adapt quickly and find solutions that best meet the needs of their employees. By offering more flexibility, there is an opportunity to demonstrate an organization’s operational and cultural agility while satisfying diverse expectations and maximizing returns on this investment.


In an effort to be competitive and given the lifestyle shifts that have happened since the pandemic, employers are now expected to offer more options, such as "benefits à la carte" plans into their benefits program. In this arrangement, employees receive a fixed amount of money to choose among a menu of available benefits and perks that best meet their needs. These options can be before-tax or after-tax, depending on the benefit type. They can include anything from traditional benefits (e.g., health insurance, retirement savings) to more innovative ones (e.g., pet coverage, personal trainer services, or student loan repayment programs). While this trend has been around for a few years, the added pressure on employers to attract and retain talent has made this option even more popular now. Others in the industry have predicted that employee experience is crucial for retainment, and offering à la carte plans shows that your organization values your employees' opinions and choices.


For organizations that value a diverse workforce, embrace individuality, and strive for innovation, the à la carte model is an excellent option. Many vendors provide this service and typically offer intuitive online platforms where employees can choose from a menu of options.


Before you start, here are a few recommendations:

  • Seek employee feedback (for example, administer a quick survey).

  • Form a staff committee and review exit interview data.

  • Use data to select a variety of benefits to offer that will be attractive to your team and ideal candidates.

Once you implemented the benefits program,

  • Communicate and promote the program.

  • Reevaluate: watch the enrollment trends, ask for more staff feedback.

  • Readjust your menu of available benefits and perks options accordingly.


Helpful links:

10 Employee Benefits that Matter Most in 2022

Contact Kiwi Partners' HR services team if you'd like support in developing a benefits program.