Many employers offer workplace benefits, but it’s important to know which benefits employees care about most. If you’re still touting your nap pods when what your candidates really want is low-premium health insurance, you won’t lure the best talent.
At the risk of stating the obvious, employees want workplace benefits that are valuable for them. For example, if the majority of your workforce has recently graduated college, they may be most excited by student loan repayment. But if you’re looking to add employees who are somewhat older, a generous 401(k) matching contribution plan could be a better draw. Knowing which benefits employees care most about will help you offer the optimal benefits package.
401(k) Retirement Matching Plan
Want employees to know you care? Starting a small business 401k plan will show employees you’re invested in their future. When an employer matches 401(k) contributions, they contribute a predetermined amount to an employee’s retirement savings.
Most often, employers match a percentage of employee contributions. This is commonly maxed out around 5% of an employee’s earnings, but some employers don’t put a cap on the contribution. If you can afford to be one of them, you’ll attract top mid-career applicants.
If 2020 showed us anything, it’s that healthcare is vital — and healthcare coverage equally so. Employee surveys consistently find health insurance among the most sought-after benefits by U.S. workers. If you don’t provide it, top talent will look elsewhere.
According to eHealth, the average cost of employer-sponsored healthcare has gotten more expensive in recent years. Deductibles seem to grow ever larger, along with the employee’s contribution to coverage. You can stand out from other employers by providing no- or low-premium health insurance to your employees.
Dental and Vision Coverage
As important as health insurance is, it’s not the whole story when it comes to ensuring your employees’ well-being. Applicants will want to know whether they’ll get any help paying for an unexpected root canal or a new pair of specs. If your health insurer doesn’t offer dental and vision benefits in your company’s plan, you’ll want to see how you can provide supplemental coverage.
Dental plans cover preventive care such as checkups, cleanings, x-rays, and routine procedures like cavity fillings. They also cover a percentage of more extensive procedures, like the aforementioned root canal. Vision plans provide coverage for traditional eye exams and discounts on eyeglasses and contacts. Weigh your various options to determine how generous a plan you can afford to offer.
Health Savings Account (HSA)
Another way to ease your employees’ healthcare worries is to offer a health savings account. An HSA is a savings account employees can use to set aside part of their pretax paycheck to cover medical costs. By using untaxed dollars to pay for deductibles, prescriptions, and other health-related expenses, employees can save money on their overall healthcare costs.
There is a cap to how much employees can contribute to their HSA every year. However, HSA funds roll over year to year if they’re not spent and can even earn non-taxable interest.
Wellness benefits, such as standing desks or exercise breaks throughout the day, can improve productivity and build bonds in the workplace. They are also some of the least expensive benefits employers can offer.
Consider bringing in a wellness coach, starting a physical fitness challenge, or providing healthy food and drink options in your office. These offerings will help improve your employee’s physical health and may lead to fewer sick days.
Tuition Reimbursement and Student Loan Repayment
Employers with a younger workforce may want to consider tuition reimbursement or student loan repayment programs. Tuition reimbursement entails paying for employees’ ongoing education, which can be advantageous if they’re acquiring skills that can be applied at work. Student loan repayment is valuable to employees who have already graduated but need assistance repaying student loans.
While tuition reimbursement and student loan repayment commonly target younger employees, older ones may also be interested in pursuing new educational opportunities. According to iGrad, there are pros and cons to each approach. Identifying which program your employees are most likely to engage with will help you develop the most successful benefit for your workplace.
Paid Time Off (PTO)
Even the most eager employee will occasionally need or want some time off. Traditionally, sick days and vacation were treated differently, but companies are increasingly bundling all time off into one PTO category.
With PTO, there’s no need to supply doctor’s notes, and employees can use it for anything from sleeping off a cold to observing a religious holiday. This simplifies matters for you, the employer, and it gives the employee more freedom in how and when to use these benefits. Offering plenty of PTO will make your company a more attractive place to work. It will also give your employees needed time away so they can return to the workplace refreshed.
Work from Home
Employees are increasingly searching for employers that allow them to work wherever they want. Whether it’s from home or in a shared office, employees want the freedom of choosing where they get their work done.
In Leadership IQ’s The State Of Working From Home study, over 90% of surveyed employees said they didn’t want to work in an office full time. Offering employees a hybrid model allowing work from home could help your company recruit better candidates.
Just as employees want some control over where they work, they also value the ability to decide when they work. Flexible hours may sound like an administrative headache, but it offers you many benefits as an employer. For one thing, it costs you nothing to allow employees freedom to decide what parts of the day they complete their work. Also, you could see decreased overhead costs if fewer employees are working full-time from the office.
If you’re a small business owner, benefits such as a tuition reimbursement plan might be too expensive. But you can still compete with companies offering high salary packages by introducing a flexible hours plan for employees.
Your workplace benefits can have a dramatic effect on your ability to recruit and retain employees. Think carefully about which benefits you’re offering and why. You may not be able to offer all these benefits, but you’ll want to offer the right ones to attract the talent you need.