8 Benefits and Policies That Are Making Your Company Seem Outdated, According to Hiring Experts

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May 29, 2024 at 12:7PM UTC

The competition for top talent today is more fierce than ever. And when it comes to attracting and retaining that talent, we know that benefits play a major hand in how well an employer fares. 

To that end, Fairygodboss recently partnered with Extend Fertility to conduct research on the benefits today’s female talent cares most about. After surveying 1,000 professional women, we found a full 87% of them said a company’s benefits package was either important or very important to them when evaluating a job offer. The presence — or lack thereof — of certain benefits also had a noticeable impact on respondents’ likelihood to stay at an employer. Given that, when a worker leaves a company, it can cost 33% of their annual salary to replace them, ensuring benefits packages are up to snuff is crucial for companies that want to avoid turnover.

Not all benefits are created equal, though. If the package at your company seems outdated, it’s possible you could actually be driving top talent away. So, we spoke to thought leaders — from CEOs to heads of HR — to find out which benefits and policies send a red flag to job seekers that an organization is behind the times. If your company’s handbook includes any of the following eight policies, it’s possible you’re seen as outdated, according to experts.

1. Paid maternity leave is offered — but other leave benefits aren’t.

Considering at least 40% of middle- and large-sized U.S. companies still offer zero paid maternity leave to employees, we’re not saying this benefit isn’t worth having. But as Sarah Morgan, a Senior HR Director of SafeStreets USA, said, to stop at a paid maternity leave benefit is to fail to acknowledge our expanding understanding of families and the ways those families need to be supported. “The definition of family is changing, and people are living longer,” Morgan said. “Employees need more than just time away from work when they have a baby or someone dies. They also need time for school-aged children, aging parents, deployed spouses and even pets…when they need this time, they should not have to choose between their loved ones and financial hardship.”

2. There’s a gym reimbursement benefit.

Again, at face-value, this isn’t exactly the worst benefit for a company to offer. The problem, as Tasia Duske, CEO of Museum Hack, put it, is that too many companies see a gym membership credit as checking off their “employee wellness” box in full. “What if an employee wants to join a yoga studio, or what if they want a massage instead? Especially with millennial employees, defining what’s ‘healthy’ varies from person to person,” Duske said. “A smart benefit to provide is a Healthy Lifestyle Credit where there’s a lot more flexibility and no judgement. Employees can use their credit to pay for a visit to the dentist, tai chi lessons, to see a therapist or anything in between.”

3. Employees are beholden to a set time and place to work.

A lack of flexibility is one of today’s biggest tell-tale signs of an outdated employer, something Matthew Ross, Co-owner and COO of The Slumber Yard, spoke to. “We don’t have a set time employees need to be in the office by and we frequently allow them to work from home, coffee shops and sometimes even bars for a change of scenery,” Ross said. “I know how mentally draining it can be to sit down at the same desk all day, so it's nice when employees are able to leave and work from different locations. I believe this helps keep the work fresh and boosts overall morale.”

4. There’s a strict dress code.

Unless a uniform is legitimately required for a role, companies that mandate strict employee dress codes should seriously rethink these policies, said Greg Kuchcik, VP of HR at Zeeto.io. “Almost all companies have moved to a business casual at most with a lot of companies moving to no dress code altogether,” Kuchcik said. “If you have strong HR/management and trusted employees, there is no reason that you can't allow your workers to be comfortable all day, every day.” Nicole Green, HR and Employee Engagement Manager at Perfect Search Media, echoed this. “Casual dress can lead to an environment that is more open-minded and allows for focus on ideas over a dress code,” she said. 

5. There are policies that restrict employees’ social media use.

Not long ago, it wasn’t uncommon for companies to have set policies in place that regulated employees’ use of and access to social media platforms. But now, such a policy makes a company look outdated, as Lucas Group’s Chief People Officer, Carolina King, said. “I certainly feel that limiting employee’s access to social media is a thing of the past and detrimental to a company’s ability to attract top talent,” King said. “I also think when companies do not offer bring your own device (cell phone) programs or policies, they feel behind the times.”

6. Performance reviews are the only policy for sourcing employee feedback.

Research shows that 75% of the causers for employee turnover are preventable. But companies that remain married to an outdated model of performance review-based feedback miss out on opportunities to address those causers. “Performance reviews are often the only official opportunity for an employee to share concerns, ask questions, and have a conversation with a manager,” Vivek Kumar, a recruiter, said. “However, performance reviews are also used by companies to determine bonuses and raises, which restricts employees from speaking freely and without fear of consequences. Implementing a system of continuous employee feedback is an excellent replacement for an uncomfortable, high-pressure quarterly or yearly performance review.”

7. There’s an official bereavement leave benefit or policy.

On the surface, bereavement leave may seem like a humanitarian benefit for employers to offer. But by enforcing a set number of days for this kind of leave, companies are engaging in a form of employee hand holding that has no place in the modern working world, said Cindy Harvey, CEO of Amelia Dee. “Instead of dictating how long it should take someone to recover from an illness or to grieve, these policies should be more flexible, empower managers and employees to have conversations, and do what is right for the person and situation,” Harvey said. “Doing this also supports positive employee mental health and wellness practices in the workplace, two critical issues in workplaces today.”

8. There’s unlimited PTO.

A policy of flexibility, as referenced earlier, is crucial for any employer that wants to remain relevant today. An increasingly trendy benefit in this space is unlimited paid time off; but research around the detriments of this policy may soon make it an outdated offering, argued Samuel Johns, HR Specialist and Office Manager at Resume Genius. “On the face of it, unlimited PTO is a blessing, since an employee can theoretically take off the time they need to recenter and recharge themselves. However, recent 180-degree about-faces by several companies have revealed that unlimited PTO policies are unworkable, since employees end up toiling away with less PTO than they would using a standard PTO system,” Johns said. “At Resume Genius, we do offer unlimited PTO, but we also have a minimum PTO requirement of 10 days a year. On top of that, managers are notified if their team members haven’t taken a day off in the last six months, and are asked to schedule them some much-deserved time off.”


This article was originally published on Tech Crunch.

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