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July 27, 2021

Six ways to boost your employee benefits program with virtual cards.

Written by
Laura Slauson
Laura Slauson
Six ways to boost your employee benefits program with virtual cards.Six ways to boost your employee benefits program with virtual cards.

The world has changed, and businesses have discovered new and creative ways of using technology to adapt to this new reality. Zoom isn’t the only solution to make the workplace more friendly for remote or partially remote teams. Virtual cards make it safe and easy for employees to spend the money they need, while simultaneously giving managers control over the budget, and accounting teams real-time insight into what is being spent. Adjustable spend limits and expiration dates can be applied when the virtual card is created, and it can be specific to one vendor if required. 

That’s why virtual cards are a great tool for managing employee benefits. Spending on virtual cards gives visibility and control to management and accounting, while giving employees easy access to approved spending on perks.

In a tight labor market, benefits are becoming more important to attract the best talent, and many applicants weigh them when considering a job offer. Good benefits also improve employee retention. This is particularly true of Millennial and Gen Z employees. One survey found that 70% would stay at a job at least another year if they were given a reward worth $150. 

However, the work involved for the accounting and finance teams can be a serious point of friction. Traditionally, many benefits outside of healthcare require employees to spend their own money, complete an expense report, then wait for reimbursement. Then the finance team has to process the reimbursement request, a task which often includes following up on missing documentation. And, with the rise in the number of remote workers, it’s harder now to just walk over to hand in a missing receipt. 

Eliminating those tasks with virtual cards not only increases employee appreciation for the time saved, it may also increase the effectiveness of the benefit. 

For example, if a company offers gym memberships to promote healthy living, research shows that people are more likely to use the membership if they don’t have to wait to be compensated for it. Although using a virtual card certainly can’t guarantee that an employee will head to the gym, virtual cards solve the problem of delayed payout for a benefit by giving employees a pre-approved payment method that doesn’t impact their wallet. And finance teams love virtual cards, since they don’t have to track the whereabouts of a physical corporate card, look for missing receipts, or process expense reports. 

Here are six ways to incorporate virtual cards into your benefits program:

1. Home office equipment: Although many workers were able to rapidly transition to work-from-home arrangements in the Spring of 2020, the investment in home offices isn’t necessarily over, in part because the resulting makeshift office setups have led to a rise in workplace injuries caused by poor ergonomics. Offering employees a virtual card to invest in a more ergonomic setup can pay off with fewer work-related injuries and a happier workforce. With a virtual card tied to a company’s corporate credit card program, employees can rest assured that any office equipment they purchase is compliant with company policy, thanks to robust approval workflows. And budget owners don’t have to worry about going over budget, since spending limits and frequency can be applied to the card when it is generated. 

The trend towards remote work is expected to continue. The Airbase Benchmark Survey of Finance Professionals found that 51% of respondents plan to continue to support working from home. Make sure employees have the best home office setup possible without adding extra work for the finance team.

2. Team meals for remote workers: Airbase is a fully distributed company, with employees around the world. At an all-team event, we were each given a virtual card to have a meal delivered — for some, it was dinner, while for others it was breakfast, but it added up to the kind of shared experience that is often missed in remote work. Other businesses send remote employees virtual cards to cover Monday bagels, or to buy a month’s worth of coffee (and that coffee might be better than most staff-room coffee).

3. Wellness programs: In addition to gym memberships, potential wellness benefits include nutritional counseling, smoking-cessation programs, mental health programs, and stress-reduction programs. Not only are these programs a good way to ensure the overall health of employees, but some studies have found that companies with robust wellness programs perform better financially. Don’t let bureaucratic processes and cumbersome reimbursement procedures stand in the way.

4. Learning and development: Continuous learning is increasingly necessary to remain competitive. Make it easier for employees to invest in themselves by giving them a virtual card for education. Not only will you have a more informed workforce, employee loyalty may increase. In one survey, 76% of respondents said a current or potential employer would be more attractive if they provided opportunities for learning, and 81% said ongoing training makes them feel engaged at work. 

5. Childcare: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of reliable childcare for a productive workforce, and some companies have stepped up to offer childcare stipends to employees. Carta, for example, introduced a $10,000 stipend for eligible employees to use for childcare needs. Not all childcare facilities accept credit cards, but a virtual card is an excellent way to make this easy for parents when they do. (Plus, it’s an opportunity for the company to earn cash back.)

6. Other stipends: Ultimately, you’re limited only by your imagination when it comes to employee perks. When you administer benefits by virtual cards, you maintain oversight and control. So, consider your team members — what makes them happy? Companies have given employees stipends for things like dates, dogs, books, and vacation costs.

If you’d like to see a virtual card program in action, contact us for a demo!

Laura Slauson
Laura Slauson
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About Airbase

Airbase offers a one platform solution to manage all non-payroll spend. It provides oversight and control over spending with real-time reporting and automatic syncing directly to your general ledger. Control all paymentsphysical cards, virtual cards, ACH, and checks – from one place. Close faster. Empower employees. Control spend.

To learn more about Airbase, contact us for a product demo.
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