Creating a “Choose Your Own” Benefit Program That’s Aligned with your Team’s Needs, Company Goals, and Budget.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen a big shift in how companies are prioritizing and thinking about supporting their people. We’ve been fortunate to have meaningful conversations with people leaders, executives, and employees about what’s important to them and how we can build the best possible platform to meet employees’ diverse and evolving wellbeing and lifestyle needs.
We are often asked about how to create an inclusive and flexible benefits program that’s personalized and aligns with the company’s values and goals. People want to know how other leading companies are customizing their employee stipends and asking questions like:
What kind of eligible expenses are employers including in their benefit reimbursement programs and why? How much is the average company allocating per benefit category?
Below we’ve shared some of our learnings. We’ll describe why optionality is important within each category, popular brands we’re currently seeing reimbursed, as well as trending expenses by category. We’ve also shared some recommendations and averages.
I’d like to note that our clients at JOON are not limited to these categories, and have the flexibility to customize their own. For example, we have companies that have intentionally limited their health and wellness category to meditation apps, their food category to online ordering vendors, and even their WFH category to internet and cell phone reimbursements.
It’s also important to mention that many clients are not assigning category-specific allowances. They’re giving employees a minimum of $25/month and giving them the freedom to spend within several categories in their program. Before the pandemic, companies were providing employees an average of $50/month or $600/year to spend on health and wellness through JOON. Since Covid-19, the average has gone up to $75/month or $900/year to spend on family care, work from home essentials, and even food in addition to health and wellness.
Gym reimbursements have been around since the 1980s and many top employers like LinkedIn and Lululemon have led the way in the last 10 years to expand their employee stipends to include an expanded view of health and wellbeing that includes more than fitness.
We’re now speaking to dozens of companies each week that are adopting a similar philosophy and I’m confident a “choose your own benefit” model is here to stay. As companies either remain remote or move towards a hybrid work model, expect there to be more savings from on-site amenities invested back into employee experience through platforms like JOON.
Please feel free to reach out to learn more!
Health + Wellness
Some want guided fitness, yoga, or meditation classes while others might need equipment for a run or bike ride. Take care of employee wellbeing with products and services that promote physical and mental health.
Most popular brands: ClassPass, Headspace, Peloton, Fitbit, TRX, Manduka, Talkspace, Calm, Noom, WHOOP, Glo, Beachbody, Soothe, Hyperice, Aaptiv, Strava, obé fitness
Eligible expenses: gym, fitness studio, digital health subscriptions or memberships, wearables, home workout equipment, cycling or swimming gear, national parks
Allocation recommendation: $50/month
Food + Groceries
Nutrition and diet are important parts of the wellbeing journey but everyone has a different relationship to food. Help nourish your entire team, from working parents with little time to cook to those sharpening their culinary skills.
Most popular brands: Whole Foods, sweetgreen, Instacart, Uber Eats, Trader Joe’s, Daily Harvest, Chipotle, Thistle, Sun Basket, Thrive Market, Misfits Market, Dig Inn
Eligible expenses: online ordering, grocery delivery, meal kits, supermarkets, restaurants
Allocation recommendation: $15/week or $60/month
Working parents are wearing more hats than ever acting as caretakers, teachers, and providers. Many need childcare or tutoring for their kids while others are starting families. Support and retain working parents by subsidizing family care.
Most popular brands: Bright Horizons, UrbanSitter, Care.com, Wonder School, WeeCare, Flexable, Altitude Learning, Modern Fertility, Natalist, Origin
Eligible expenses: daycare, babysitting, birth recovery, breastfeeding, fertility
Allocation recommendation: $200/quarter
Learning + Development
Empower curiosity by enabling your team to explore and develop new skills. Fund access to world class education and learning platforms to keep employees engaged.
Most popular brands: Udemy, MasterClass, General Assembly, Coursera, Codeacademy
Eligible expenses: online classes, conferences, trainings, graduate programs
Allocation recommendation: $500/year
Recreate the office magic and company culture in our new digital normal. Not everyone’s home is conducive to remote work – equip them with the tools they need to stay comfortable and productive.
Most popular brands: Apple, Vari Desk, Herman Miller, Roost Stand, Microsoft, Spectrum
Eligible expenses: keyboards, mouse, internet, cellphones, monitors, chairs, desks, printers, plants, notebooks
Allocation recommendation: $400 as a one-time gift
Customize Your Own Category
We know your team may need something more specific, which is why we’ve given employers the option to customize their own categories. Create your program by adding preset bundles and eligible brands (e.g., reimbursing purchases at the farmer’s market or environmentally sustainable products).