Benefits à la Carte

Updated February 10, 2021. First published Feb 18, 2018.

Benefits costs seem to rise every year, making it challenging for employers to choose which benefits to offer to their employees. These decisions should be well thought through as a benefits package helps 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. A traditional benefits package is unlikely to include all these desired benefits.

Since individual values differ from person to person, a one-size-fits-all benefits programs may no longer be the optimal solution. In addition, with so much change over the past year and with many organizations re-thinking their traditional onsite model, some leaders are reevaluating the way they invest in benefits. By offering more flexibility, there is an opportunity to demonstrate an organization’s operational and cultural agility while satisfying the diverse set of expectations and maximizing returns on this investment.

Companies are starting to incorporate what many call “Benefits à la Carte” into their benefits program. In this type of 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).

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 they 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.

Contact your HR advisor if you would like support in developing a benefits program.