Offering lifestyle benefits has become a sure way for employers to ensure they can attract and retain employees. Employer-sponsored lifestyle savings accounts (LSAs) are easy to implement and administer and easy for employees to use.
Employees can use the benefits to cover costs not traditionally offered by health plans to enhance their well-being.
1. Lifestyle Spending Account: Explained
A Lifestyle Spending Account differs from traditional health plans because employees have fewer restrictions and rules regarding their spending. Employers fund these accounts, and they can choose the eligible expenses, allowing discretionary spending from their employees to help promote work-life balance.
Therefore, LSAs can include physical, mental, and financial wellness expenses. Other common LSA benefits include adult, child, or pet care services and professional development. These accounts aim to help boost productivity and promote wellness. Their benefit for employers is boosting employee productivity, loyalty, and morale, helping them attract and retain employees. Employees also benefit because they can choose from services that match their lifestyles.
2. Maximizing Lifestyle Benefits
Even though LSAs work similarly to other account-based paybacks, a company can customize them to align with its mission and vision and adapt them to the various employees.
Setting Up and LSA
Employers don’t need to align to a plan year when setting up an LSA because these are off-cycle. Besides choosing the date they want to start, they can also decide whether to make a one-time annual contribution or contribute more often.
Moreover, employers can tailor the amounts according to the status of their various employees (full-time, part-time, contracted, etc.) at any location.
Funding an LSA
The only person funding the LSA is the employer, and they get to decide which expenses to include. Employers have no limits or minimums to their annual contributions. Contributions depend on the types of services employers want to include. Therefore, they must contribute more if they add IVF or surrogacy to the benefits offered.
Employers also decide if unused funds from the LSA roll over annually or expire. LSAs form part of the taxable benefits earned by employees. For employers, it’s a post-tax benefit. Employees pay income tax on the money spent from their LSA each year.
3. A Win-Win for Employees: Lifestyle Benefits
Employees have a set allowance amount according to the services chosen by their employer.
Examples of typical LSA expenses include:
- Physical health – Gym memberships, fitness classes, exercise equipment, workout apps, nutritional supplements, wellness programs, weight loss, and attire for physical health activities are some of the services in this category.
- Mental health – Includes online talk therapy, meditation apps, counseling services, and massages.
- Remote work costs – They cover the expenses of people working from home, including office equipment, internet service, and cell phone subscriptions.
- Virtual health care – Telehealth and telemedicine services
- Career and life coaching – Education courses, conferences, seminars, and language lessons.
- Family support – Employees who need help with childcare, daycare, kids’ activities, pet care, and pet insurance.
- Delivery services – Grocery and meal delivery.
- Travel and entertainment – Transportation, gas, parking, movie theater tickets, hotels, sporting events, etc.
- Donations for charities – Charities rely on donations to continue their work in helping those in need.
- Financial planning – This category has services like budgeting, student loan repayment, and tuition assistance.
4. Boosting Employee Happiness: Lifestyle Benefits
Employers providing LSAs can give their employees meaningful benefits that address their needs more accurately, differentiating them from competitors. The results are increased satisfaction and a better work environment for employees since they can choose services that suit them best.
Organizations also benefit from better employee retention and recruitment since they can show that they care about their employee well-being. These benefit programs allow employers to incorporate flexibility and personalization to cater to their diverse employees’ needs.
Forma stresses the significance of organizations offering well-being benefits to their employees by quoting from a 2012 Gartner study that shows that these flexible options are supported by 74% of HR leaders to strengthen their retention policies.
5. How Lifestyle Spending Accounts Benefit Employees
The lifestyle benefits of an LSA from an employee’s perspective include the following:
With an LSA, an employee has many options supporting various aspects of their well-being, and they can choose which are more significant. Most importantly, they aren’t as limiting as some other benefit solutions.
Guilt-free well-being spending
Employees often feel guilty about spending their hard-earned money on wellness expenses like a massage, a gym program, child care, or buying healthier meals. An LSA provides a designated amount they can use annually, ensuring they don’t neglect their well-being when covering other financial needs.
Straightforward to understand and use
Some employee benefits are often difficult to access because they’re scattered on various platforms. The advantage of a lifestyle spending account is that all their benefits are on one account, making it easier for employees to find and use.
6. Unleashing the Power of Lifestyle Benefits
The increased diversity and distribution of organizations’ workforce means they need solutions for better distribution and flexibility of their benefit programs. Unleashing the power of lifestyle benefits has become easier than ever.
DEI, or diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, are increasing among employers. LSAs provide an upfront way to address benefit gaps for women, ethnic groups, special needs populations, LGBTQ+, or neurodivergent employees.
Employers can take a more hands-on approach to encouraging employees to use their benefits with an LSA. For example, with a health insurance plan, they aren’t promoting their employees to care for their wellness. On the other hand, with a Lifestyle Spending Account, employees are incentivized to take more care of their physical and mental health.
LSAs have incredible flexibility, making them a practical tool for providing employees with benefits. An organization can either opt for broader benefits or focus on those that fit the core values and culture of the company.
7. Enhancing Employee Well-being: Lifestyle Spending Accounts
Employers can help support their employee’s lives outside their work environment with Lifestyle Spending Accounts, enhancing employee well-being.
More and more employees report suffering from financial stress and spend several workday hours dealing with related issues. Through an LSA, an employer provides the means to ease the burden by supporting employees. While helping reduce financial stress, they encourage a healthier and happier workforce that’s inevitably more productive, benefitting the company.
These are some of the best examples of how LSAs are enhancing employee well-being:
- They can get reimbursement for financial planning, homebuying costs, and money management counseling.
- They can cover costs that other benefits like HAS and FSA don’t cover. These include wellness improvement apps and gym memberships.
- Benefits encouraging improved physical health contribute to better morale and productivity with fewer days missed at work. These don’t only include gym memberships and fitness apps but also services, like deliveries of healthier food and weight-loss apps, etc.
- The improved mental health is comparable to lowering financial stress and improving physical health, helping increase productivity, boosting employee loyalty and retention, and improving company culture. Some benefits that lead to improved mental health include covering the costs associated with hobbies and personal interests like music classes or race entry fees, marriage counseling, etc.
- Companies offering LSAs boost their recruitment efforts thanks to the well-being benefits that support employees.
8. The Perks of Lifestyle Benefits
By providing Lifestyle Spending Accounts for employees, employers encourage them to try something new without forfeiting any money or taking a risk. With an LSA, an employer can personalize the lifestyle benefits’ perks.
According to Espresa, there is only a 50% chance that employees will use most of the other benefits offered by their employer. Interestingly, with LSAs, this figure increases to 80%, and the employer chooses what happens to the unused money.
Employers must communicate how much employees have available to spend. They should also let them know the time frame for spending the amount, the frequency of the amount renewal, the reimbursable expense, how they intend to withhold the tax, and how their employees can access the money.
Before starting an LSA, an organization should determine its budget and the needs of its employees. They can also offer earned allowance offerings to incentivize their workforce to earn more funds in their LSA, aligning with the organization’s values. These could include prioritizing volunteer work, health and wellness, or financial wellness.
With Lifestyle Spending Accounts, employers can ensure their workforce receives support that improves their well-being, making them happier and healthier. Companies that want to attract potential talent and retain their good employees use them as an added incentive for the lifestyle benefits offered.
It’s easy for employers to show their employees that they care with the enhanced benefits customizable to their needs, whether planning a healthier diet for their family or better childcare for going to the gym.
Additionally, these far-reaching benefits don’t require finding the money to make significant pay or bonus increases. As an affordable solution, LSAs allow many employers to further their DIEB initiatives by providing unique benefits to different employee groups.
Finally, the far-reaching paybacks are easy to implement and use, reaching every employee when needed.
About Jacob Maslow
After surviving the traumatizing events of 9/11, I took it upon myself to heal through helping others. I’m the primary caregiver of my children and understand from first-hand experience the lonely paths you have to walk as a partner and parent when leaving an unhealthy relationship.
We’re all echoing in a dark space that doesn’t have to be this empty, and that’s been my mission since finding solace and recovery in therapy: To help comfort others who are still in shock and at the prime of their struggle.
I came across BetterHelp after searching for this type of community. I wanted to belong to a body of proactive therapists and supportive therapy veterans that allowed me to see other sides of the story.
It was unconventional, and that’s what attracted me most. During my most challenging times, when my ex-wife completely cut me off from my children, I found comfort and clarity through BetterHelp.
Instead of being chained to a strict therapist recommendation, I was in charge of who I felt understood my struggle most. That allowed me to find my true peace, as I was reunited with those who read behind my words and had first-hand experience with my trauma.
Recovery is a choice; with BetterHelp, that choice will be a few clicks away. You can join their couples-oriented platform, Regain.us, for those stuck with family estrangement and toxic relationship patterns.
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