Personal Services and Family friendly benefits

While time off, insurance, and retirement benefits account for the lion’s share of benefit costs, most employers also provide various services, including personal services (such as legal and personal counseling), job-related family friendly services (such as child care facilities) educational subsidies, and executive perquisites (such as company cars and planes for its executives).

Personal Services:

Many companies provide the sorts of personnel services that most employees need at one time or another. These include credit unions, legal services, counseling, and social and recreational opportunities.

Credit Unions:

Credit unions are usually separate businesses established with the employer’s assistance to help employees with borrowing and savings needs. Employees usually become members by purchasing a share of the credit union’s stock for $5 or $10. Members can deposit savings that accrue interest at a rate determined by the credit union’s board of directors. Perhaps more important to most employees, loan eligibility and the loan’s rate of interest are usually more favorable than these of banks a finance companies. Many credit unions are large multi branch operations. For example, Arrowhead Credit Union has 100,000 members and 17 branches, with ATMs checking, and a full range of banking services.

Employee assistance programs EAPs provide counseling and advisory services, which might include, for instance, personal legal and financial services, child and elder care referrals, adoption assistance, mental health counseling and life event planning. EAPs are increasingly popular, with more than 60% of larger firms offering such programs. The trend is towards offering one-stop shopping EAP benefits from large off site providers. One study found that personal mental health was the most common problem addressed by employee assistance programs, followed by family problems.

For the company, programs like these produce advantages, not just costs. For example, sick family members and health problems sc as depression account for many of the sick have day employees take. These absences can be reduced what employee assistance programs that provide advice on issues like elder care referrals and diseases management. Key steps for launching a successful EAP program include:

1. Develop a policy statement: Define the program’s purpose, employee eligibility, the roles and responsibilities of various personnel in the organization, and procedures for using the plan.
2. Ensure professional staffing: Consider the professional and state licensing requirements.
3. Maintaining confidential record keeping systems: Everyone involved with the EAP, including supervisors, secretaries and support staff, must understand the importance of confidentiality
Also, ensure files are locked, access is limited and monitored information is minimized.
4. Be aware of legal issues: For example, in most states counselors must disclosure suspicious of child abuse to an appropriate state agency. Get legal advice on establishing the EAP, carefully screen the credentials of the EAP staff, and obtain professional liability insurance for the EAP.

Family Friendly Benefits:

Several tends are changing the landscape of benefits administration: there are more households in which both adults work; more than one parent households; more women in the workforce; more workers over 55. And there’s the time bind – people working harder and longer without the time to do all they’d like to do.

The pressures of balancing work and family life have led many employers to bolster what they call their family friendly benefits. While there is no single list of what does or does not constitute a ‘family friendly benefit’, they generally include child care, elder care, fitness facilities, and flexible work schedules that enable employees to better meet the demands of their family and work lives.

On site child care, fitness and medical facilities, flexible work scheduling telecommuting, occasional sabbaticals, loan programs for home computers, stock options, concierge services, even insurance for the family pet all part of the compensation package in the new workplace.

Many more employers have therefore added these kinds of benefits. A survey by the Society for Human resources Management (SHRM) found that about 29% of employers provided at least some type of child care assistance in 2003, up from 23% in 1999. The SHRM survey also found that, of the firms responding, 55% offer flextime, 31% offer compressed work weeks, and 34% permit some telecommuting.

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