As a SHRM HR Knowledge Advisor, I’ve received many calls asking about how to find, attract and retain talent during this hot job market. Employers have been very creative in attracting talent—offering sign-on bonuses, remote and hybrid work arrangements, increased paid leave, and education reimbursement, to name just a few benefits. Some have considered gift cards for meals, movies, or shopping—anything to differentiate companies and attract candidates. However, one possible benefit rarely mentioned is one that could be a great differentiator: short-term disability. Often overlooked, this benefit has helped many employees get through medical emergencies, injuries, serious illnesses (including COVID-19), and even happy life events like having a baby.
A handful of states require employers to have a short-term disability plan, but many do not; in fact, 45 states do not require this. Most employees do not think about this important benefit until the day an employee cannot work and has no available paid leave benefits. This became all too real during the pandemic. I received many calls from HR professionals asking what they could do to help their employees who were unable to work and facing many financial challenges. For example, I once had a staff member who could not work for two months due to a sudden medical emergency. Because her employer had purchased a short-term disability policy, she received two-thirds of her pay through short-term disability, and coupled with her more than three weeks of accrued paid time off, she was actually able to receive full pay for the entire two months! What a more pleasant conversation to have, as opposed to helping an employee draft a letter to a lender explaining their inability to meet their financial obligations.
In the not-so-distant past, employees were more interested intangible benefits such as health insurance, sick leave, and vacation time. The “silent” benefits like short-term disability, long-term disability and life insurance were rarely discussed, but have become even more important thanks to the pandemic. So, if you want to stand out in the competition for talent, take a look at these silent benefits that, dollar for dollar, provide so much more than their cost to an employer.
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