Women working in retro office environment Utilizing health benefits as an incentive allowed the earliest adopters of this strategy to differentiate themselves from their competitors and begin bringing in the top talent needed. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The modern, American employer is expected to offer health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, retirement accounts, flexible spending and/or health savings accounts, paid vacation and sick time, paid holidays, paid medical leave, and so much more. Entire industries full of vendors, subject-matter-experts, and other stakeholders have popped up to handle the benefits expectations placed on the American employer. This article and its readership serve as an example of the footprint and impact that the benefits industry has had across our general economy for many years.

But how did this come to be? When and why did the modern employer begin this standard offering of benefits? Was it always this way?

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