How to offer benefits to remote workers

How to Offer Benefits for Remote Workers

Key Takeaways

Perks and benefits are your most important employee retention tool. Neglect them at your peril.
Only employees can receive traditional benefits but look for ways to sweeten the deal for your regular contractors too.
Benefits come down to health, wealth and happiness. Your goal should be to make your employees healthier, happier and more financially stable with you.

Benefits Help with Recruitment and Retention

Study after study, workers consistently rate salary, vacation time, flex time, culture and benefits as the most important factors in taking and staying at a job. When you have a remote team, you’ve already taken care of one of those top five important factors. In today’s blog, we will outline how you can cross another item off your list by creating a competitive and attractive benefits and perks package for your remote team.

Contractors vs Employees

Remote and work from home teams are often composed of a mix of employees and contractors. The makeup of your team will have a tremendous impact on how you approach your benefits offerings. Typically, contractors cannot be enrolled in group benefits or retirement plans because these are designed with employees in mind.

Some perks and benefits, though, are suitable for all worker types. Stipends and per diems are two examples of how you can boost total compensation – worker satisfaction and loyalty – for employees and contractors alike. Both offer a little extra compensation, but in a way that is designed to acknowledge their human needs, rather than just their wallet.

If you have a large contractor workforce, in addition to your work from home employees, you have three options:

  1. Offer no additional benefits or perks to contractors
  2. Offer select perks and benefits to contractors
  3. Engage a PEO to hire them so that they can receive full benefits

How you approach this problem should be determined by the relationship you have and want to develop with your contract workforce. If you are hiring people for very short contracts and are unlikely to hire them again, you may not need to offer anything else to attract top talent. If your projects are longer, or you might want contractors to come back for future projects, offering some perks or hiring them through a PEO are good options.

The Best Benefits for Remote Workers

Health and Insurance Package

Millennials and Gen Z employees spend more healthcare dollars on paramedicals (massage, chiro) than specialist appointments and have even been known to turn down benefits packages. For that reason, some recommend skipping out on a traditional healthcare package in favour of a flexible health spending account. But that may be misinterpreting employee behaviour. Millennial and Gen Z employees tend to be poorer than their Gen X and Boomer colleagues and for that reason are very price conscious. Traditional health benefits continue to poll as the most popular work perk for a reason: they provide the fullest possible health coverage at the best price. Design a plan that offers comprehensive coverage with a low-cost employee contribution and you will be very popular with employees of all ages.

Flexible Health Spending Account

Flexible health spending accounts are an attractive perk because they offer employees more choice in how they use their health benefits in complete privacy. Flex accounts are a fixed account that employees can draw down from to use for any healthcare spend. Because many benefits packages limit member spending on paramedicals, typical uses include massage and chiropractic services. Flex accounts are best deployed in small companies that can’t yet offer a full health benefits package or in combination with a larger benefits package.

However, flex accounts aren’t always as flexible as they sound. Employees with children or health issues can quickly max out their accounts, if they aren’t combined with traditional benefits, leaving you to decide whether to allow a top up or to deny them.

Group RRSP

Workplace retirement savings consistently poll as one of the most popular employee benefits. They provide employees with an easy way to save for their future, by putting aside a percentage of their earnings aside with every pay. But not only should you offer a group plan, you should commit to making a matching contribution. Group RRSP’s that include an employer match create confidence and loyalty in your workforce because they represent a joint investment in their future at the company and in life. Randy Cass, founder and CEO of Nest Wealth told Investment Executive that “the simple act of offering a group RRSP can significantly increase employee’s confidence and sense of security both in the workplace and at home.”

Educational Stipend

In our increasingly credentialed and rapidly changing workforce, people are spending more and more on education and training – including employers. US employers spend more on education and training than anywhere else in the world. Part of that cost is due to the country’s comparatively high cost of education, but also because they are investing in internal training and development – and Canadian employers are starting to catch up. Educational stipends, scholarships and tuition repayment programs are incredibly popular with workers. They represent real investment in their future at your company and in them as people.

Learn more about how Canadian Payroll Services can help you design a great benefits package for your remote team.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does EAP in Canada work?

Employee Assistance Plans are employer sponsored programs that provide access to health, wellness and development services such as counselling, online courses, tax advice, and more.

How does HSA in Canada work?

Health Spending Accounts are self-insured health plans that give employees more control over their health care spending. HSAs are a great benefit for small businesses but can’t replace traditional health insurance plans.

How do PEO benefit plans work?

Professional Employment Organizations (PEOs) in Canada assist their clients in creating locally competitive and compliant benefit plans.

How do EOR benefit plans work?

Employers of Record hire workers on your behalf and directly provide them with competitive employee benefits, health insurance, and retirement savings programs

Is there 401k in Canada?

The 401k does not exist in Canada. Instead, there are several similar tax-advantaged retirement savings options including company pensions and Registered Retirement Savings Plans. Company pensions have declined in popularity in favour of company sponsored Group RRSPs.

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