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Workplace Benefits Have Always Evolved to Meet Employee Needs

Ryan Gardner | June 18, 2019 Employer Insights

Workplace Benefits Have Always Evolved to Meet Employee Needs

Workplace benefits like health insurance and retirement plans are bread-and-butter table stakes for most modern benefits packages today. But that wasn’t always the case.

Employer-sponsored health insurance was born in the aftermath of World War II. In just two decades, the previous 9% of Americans with health insurance ballooned to 66%. Why? Because the need for health insurance changed. During the war, businesses used benefits like health insurance to attract workers during a massive labor shortage. The IRS in 1943 provided tax exemption status to employer-provided health insurance, further cementing the idea of health insurance as a basic cornerstone of workplace benefits for both employers and employees alike. 

Retirement plans followed a similar path, emerging post-WWII as a recruiting tactic by employers. Previously, pensions were largely reserved for elderly and disabled people, and were never intended as replacements for full-time income. When millions of Americans returned home and looked to rejoin the workforce, businesses offering a guaranteed source of income that could preclude the need to work late in life notched an additional hiring advantage over competitors.

Reimagining table-stakes benefits

From a shift in pension to 401(k) plans in the 1980s, to the availability of stock options in the 1990s, to modern perks like working-from-home and flexible schedules, businesses have constantly refined workplace benefit packages to align with the evolving needs of their employees.

Case in point: pet insurance. Not too long ago, that might have sounded like a frivolous idea for a benefit. But today the demand speaks for itself. In 2017, pet owners across America spent $1 billion enrolling 1.8 million cats and dogs into pet insurance policies. That’s a nearly 17% jump in enrollment from 2016, and double what policy owners spent on pet coverage in 2013. Americans want pet insurance, and that need coupled with the increasing prices of private policies is driving more businesses to offer pet coverage as part of their own competitive benefits offerings.

From health coverage to 401(k)s to pet insurance, we can trace a clear evolution in benefits being offered to works, from the 1940s to today. And student loan repayment should be next.

As we explored in an earlier blog post, student loan assistance already ranks as the third most in-demand benefit – behind health insurance and 401(k) match programs, the quintessential table-stakes. Workers are making it quite clear that the demand for a student loan repayment is there. And if businesses, in keeping with this 75-year-old tradition, want to continue remaining competitive and attractive for workers by evolving their benefits packages to keep pace with that kind of demand, then student loan repayment is the logical next step for table-stakes benefits being offered.

Vault’s student loan repayment solution provides exactly that: a workplace benefit that gives HR departments a new competitive advantage for attracting and retaining talented workers, and gives employees a new avenue for paying down student debt, putting more money into neglected retirement savings and getting closer to achieving debt defiance.

Contact us below to learn more how about Vault’s student loan repayment platform can be integrated into your company’s benefits package.