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10 Simple Ways Benefits Managers Can Recession-Proof Their Employee Benefits Package


Last Update: August 15, 2022

Successful companies have satisfied employees. To increase satisfaction, many companies began providing benefits above and beyond traditional health insurance and paid vacation. In recent years, the variety of perks has grown considerably to include such things as:

  • In-house massages
  • Yoga classes offered before and after work as well as during lunch break
  • Free books and ebooks
  • Daily ice cream
  • Pet-friendly offices
  • Paid time off for volunteering
  • Travel stipends
  • Nap rooms
  • Valet parking

However, as the economy begins to slow down, benefits managers will be forced to look at their benefits packages to determine which ones are essential just as they did after the Great Recession. During that economic slowdown, seven out of ten companies reduced or eliminated bonuses and cut benefits1

Here are ten ways benefits managers can recession-proof their employee benefits and still maintain employee satisfaction and gain the upper hand when recruiting new hires.

#1: Remember the Basics

Current employees and potential new hires prefer to have great standard benefits over flashy, unique ones. This means that, above all else, during a recession, benefits managers need to focus on:

  • Healthcare
  • Paid time off
  • Competitive salaries

Fractl found that 88% of those surveyed stated that medical benefits are the most important2. Remember, employees are looking for stability, and these basic benefits help provide that stability.

#2: Retirement Counts

Employees want to see that their employer is invested in them and their goals. A 401(k) plan that helps them save for retirement is of higher value than daily ice cream, even if it doesn’t sound like as much fun. 

A Glassdoor survey3 found that half of all employees chose their current employer because it offered a retirement plan. This is likely because two-thirds of employees do not feel their retirement savings are on track4

#3: Expand and Enhance the Basics

Although medical coverage is the top priority, employees also want additional health insurance, such as:

  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Mental health
  • Dependent coverage

#4: Life Insurance Counts

Of workers who don’t have group life insurance through their employer, nearly six in ten state they would purchase it if it were an option5. The reasons most cited for wanting life insurance include:

  • Peace of mind (53%)
  • To protect their family from future financial hardship (44%)
  • Pay of debts and final expenses after their passing (23%)
  • Leave an inheritance (23%)
  • Replace an income (21%)

#5: Provide Flexibility

Employees want to find a work-life balance. To achieve this, they want the ability to create their own hours, be given the freedom to have flex schedules, and be able to work from home – at least some of the time. This is especially true since the pandemic.

In fact, a LiveCareer survey6 found that three out of ten professionals will quit their jobs if they cannot continue to work remotely. 

Employees prefer these flex arrangements to:

  • Avoid commutes
  • Have more time for family
  • Care for children or aging parents
  • Work hours that make more sense for their other obligations

#6: Invest in Professional Development

Providing professional development to employees shows that you care about their future. Consider in-house training, online training, stipends for college campus training, and mentorships as a way to help employees achieve their career goals. 

In addition to helping employees, employers will also benefit by:

  • Building a strong workforce
  • Achieve diversity
  • Meet inclusion goals

#7: Increase Voluntary Benefits

Voluntary benefits are those benefits offered by an employer but paid for by an employee. These benefits are offered at a discounted rate, but cost little or nothing to the employer. Such benefits can include:

  • Disability insurance
  • Car insurance
  • Long-term care coverage
  • Medical supplement plans
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Identity theft protection
  • Travel Insurance
  • Pet insurance
  • Health savings accounts
  • Accident insurance
  • Dependent care assistance
  • Adoption assistance

#8: Provide Employee Discounts

Employee Discount Programs offer services and products at a discount. A benefits manager can contact individual vendors or work with a discount program platform. 

A survey by Corporate Wellness found that over two-thirds (67%) of employees would use an employee discount benefit if offered7. However, to be the most beneficial, these programs need to be relevant and focus on things employees actually purchase regularly. 

#9: Offer Health Wellness Programs

Health wellness programs target problems within your workforce. These wellness programs can include things such as:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Exercise
  • Addiction

The best part about a health wellness program is that a healthy workforce is great for the employer by reducing healthcare costs, reducing absenteeism, and improving productivity.

#10: Provide Financial Wellness 

Financial wellness programs are similar to health wellness programs except they focus on the financial health of an employee. However, the results for the company are similar with better productivity and reduced costs

The PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey found that 87% of employees want help figuring out their personal finances8.

Generally, a holistic financial wellness program that helps employees with budgeting, debt, credit, savings, and retirement offers a 3:1 return on investment – for every $1 spent, companies see $3 in reduced costs associated with poor employee finances and high employee turnover9

To learn more about Enrich, a holistic financial wellness program, and how to make it part of your recession-proofed benefits package, schedule a demo today. 



1 - https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/recession-proof-your-employee-benefits-package 

2 - https://www.frac.tl/employee-benefits-study/ 

3 - https://b2b-assets.glassdoor.com/benefits-employees-want-most-2017.pdf

4 - https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/2021-economic-well-being-of-us-households-in-2020-retirement.htm

5 - https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190830005032/en/American-Workers-Want-Life-Insurance-as-an-Employee-Benefit-Survey-Says

6 - https://www.livecareer.com/resources/careers/planning/is-remote-work-here-to-stay

7 - https://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/article/discount-purchase-programs 

8 - https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/consulting/workforce-of-the-future/library/employee-financial-wellness-survey.html 

9 - https://www.soa.org/globalassets/assets/files/resources/essays-monographs/financial-wellness/2017-financial-wellness-essay-ward.pdf 

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