Inside ACELR8
August 9, 2023
August 15, 2023

Inclusive Benefits - What They Are and Why We Need to Offer Them

Hannelore Canessa-Wright

What Are Inclusive Benefits?

Inclusive employee benefits are things that positively impact all your employees, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, background, work location, or other factors.

Examples of this could include removing barriers that may prevent staff from performing at their best; making adjustments to the working environment; ensuring benefits communications are fully inclusive; extending pay gap reporting to include gender as well as ethnicity pay gaps; supporting LGBTQ+ employees, and running events that help to create a culture where all staff feel included.

Examples of inclusive benefits:

  • Flexible work arrangements (hybrid, virtual, office) and the option for flexible working hours
  • Gender-neutral parental leave & flexibility for carers, for example, those with children
  • Wellbeing benefits, for eg. access to mental health tools & support
  • Granting leave for employees in non-sickness-related situations, for example, bereavement
  • Career development support (eg. Learning & professional development budget and Access to mentorship and coaching opportunities.)

Why Offer Inclusive Benefits?

These benefits have the potential to make your colleagues feel valued in the workplace — and less stressed outside of it. They also help companies stand out from competitors.

Creating a sustainable work environment benefits both employees and the company. It boosts loyalty, productivity, resilience, and ultimately, profitability. However, achieving these benefits requires more than just talk; the entire company must actively embrace a well-being strategy.

Moreover, businesses are realising more and more that a well-being strategy should encompass various dimensions of well-being. It's not enough to have isolated programs; instead, it should become ingrained in the company culture. Well-being isn't just a separate initiative; it's part of the company's overall approach. This is particularly crucial for mental health and emotional well-being, which remains a top concern. Mental health considerations shouldn't only influence well-being-focused choices but also everyday business decisions. For instance, when planning a merger, the company should consider the potential stress and burnout it could cause. This level of attention to detail reflects the integration of well-being into a company's core values. Businesses that grasp the intricate interplay of well-being and wholeheartedly support employees in their choices will cultivate a flourishing workforce and, as a result, flourish themselves.

Types of Benefits & Their Impact

Unlimited PTO

The success of unlimited PTO depends on the company and how they implement the policy. When companies reward people for not taking time off or discourage them from taking time when they need it, they risk causing a measurably negative effect on productivity, engagement, and employee wellbeing (which undermines how unlimited PTO is presented as an inclusive benefit).

Among its many forward-looking benefits, the global social media management platform Hootsuite offers half-day summer Fridays, a company-wide wellness week, and incentives for employees who use up all of their vacation days. For Hootsuite, its investment in employee benefits paid off — the company saw a rise from 66 to 81 percent in employee engagement over the course of the pandemic.

Compassionate Leave

Compassionate leave is a form of absence taken when an employee has to deal with a sensitive or upsetting situation in their personal life.

For example

  • When a close friend or family member is seriously ill or seriously injured.
  • If they've been a victim of a crime.

This allows employees to manage the short-term demands of their personal life and come back once they are able to work efficiently again. If someone is compelled by their employer to work through an extremely difficult period in their life with no time off this will usually have a negative impact on their quality of work as well significantly impacting their well-being and ability to work well in the future.

Gender Neutral Parental Leave

Offering gender-neutral parental leave, including leave for parents of newly adopted children, can help contribute to lasting bonds between parents and children in early development while also creating a positive work-life balance.

To support all new parents, Hewlett Packard Enterprise offers six months of parental leave and parental transition support, applicable for new mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents. Normalising necessary breaks for employees has led to higher retention, says Debbie Irish, HP’s head of HR in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Debbie explains that “ensuring these individuals feel comfortable with returning to the workplace is key to enabling better long-term staff retention” and is “a win-win for both employees and companies.”

Financial & Educational Benefits (L&D)

Budgets for educational expenses like courses, reading materials, and conferences.

Some companies support their employees to pursue degrees or other qualifications and facilitate the time and cost requirements so they can effectively balance their work and studies, for example by offering flexible or part-time hours and covering tuition costs.

In 2020, Google announced that its benefits for U.S. employees had expanded to include a student loan repayment program. The benefit matches up to $2,500 per year in student loan payments and is inclusive because, as Google has noted, student loan repayments disproportionately impact women and communities of colour.

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