Perk Up: The Best Employee Benefits for Attracting and Retaining Talent

BY -

Alicia Castro

July 2, 2020

Money talks, but benefits may do more than salary to help you stand apart as an employer of choice. In a Glassdoor survey nearly 80 percent of people said they prefer new or additional benefits to an outright pay boost.

Perhaps that’s because beyond the financial bonus, benefit packages also improve employees’ lives by supporting their health, work-life balance, and long-term professional development. Benefits can be good for your company, too, by enhancing productivity and cutting medical expenses due to stress and burnout.

A broader array of rewards helps secure external talent, too. When faced with two offers with equivalent monetary compensation, candidates can be swayed by a robust benefit offering. The following graph from a survey by Fractl explores which benefits are most valued by job seekers.

No matter which benefits you choose to offer, be sure that your human resources team promotes the perks to candidates and employees so that they can take full advantage — and everyone can reap the rewards.  Look to your payroll software provider to offer some of the below, along with benefits brokers, or going directly to vendors in each of these categories.

Key categories of benefits

Employee perks run the gamut from nearly necessary to arguably over-the-top. It’s up to you to decide what will draw in and keep your target talent. 

Healthcare

Beyond salary, medical coverage is the most universal benefit. Close to 90 percent of U.S. employees in large and mid-sized businesses receive healthcare benefits. Top companies are upping the standard with 100 percent coverage for health, dental, and vision, as well as family planning options like fertility assistance and egg freezing.

Paid time off

Whether it’s for vacation, family leave, or bereavement, personal time off (PTO) gives employees a chance to maintain a healthy equilibrium. Most full-time employees expect a two-week vacation, and many leading technology companies opt for more or unlimited time off. Businesses are also carving out time for months-long family leave for new parents.

Financial

You can motivate employees to save for retirement with a tax-advantaged 401 (k). Company match contributions will encourage them to stick with your company for the long haul. Some companies also offer an employee stock purchase program.

Flexible schedule

Increasingly companies are offering the option to split their work hours between the office and home. Some employers may also allow for a compressed workweek or flextime.

Office perks

When it comes to food, some companies set the table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus happy hours and endless snacks. Though you may not have the budget to go all out, you may consider offering a catered weekly lunch and gourmet coffee. As a bonus to business, food-centered social gatherings help foster a sense of camaraderie and encourage collaboration. 

Employee development

The most profitable companies don’t satisfy their employees simply with foosball and free food. Leaders can also cultivate a workplace culture in which employees feel valued and enjoy their jobs by providing ample learning opportunities. You can offer mentoring, in-house training, or credits for industry-related courses.

Wellness

One survey found that 74 percent of companies have a mental wellness offering, such as stress management, and 63 percent give perks for physical wellness. Such benefits include gym access, healthy food options, on-site health screenings, or incentives for healthy behavior.

Most unique benefits

Beyond medical insurance and paid vacation days, some organizations attract employees with a bevy of free and discounted services.

Onsite health services

Perhaps the most deluxe offerings relate to wellness. To help employees feel rejuvenated throughout the week, some companies offer in-office massages and yoga classes. Steelcase, a furniture manufacturer, goes the extra mile with “healthier home meal” ingredient stations in its cafeterias; employees can prepare dinner instead of snagging fast food after work.

Home delivery

As more companies transition to a remote work setting, many are offering perks to help employees remain connected. Home delivery snack packages, online workout packages, and meditation app memberships all offer employees the in-office perks their accustomed to.

Education

With college costs at a premium, companies are picking up the bill for tuition and student loans. To encourage continued education, Starbucks gives employees free access to Arizona State University’s online programs. Accounting firm PwC provides help paying down student loans. Over the benefit’s six-year span, employees can save up to $10,000.

Companies with the best benefits

As you review your current benefits offerings, consider following the lead of a few top companies.

Google

The internet’s leading search engine is renowned for its ample benefit package. Nearly $19,000 goes into its full stack of insurance offerings, as well as on-site medical care, complimentary college courses, free meals, tuition reimbursement, and much more. Employees’ volunteer work also goes farther: Google not only matches employees' charitable contributions, but for every five hours of volunteer time, the company donates $50 to that nonprofit. 

Salesforce

This California-based software company avows to employees that “we love seeing you smile.” They keep staff members happy with almost $12,000 worth of additional rewards including wellness, travel assistance, and education programs. Retention is also rewarded: employees receive monetary bonuses and recognition upon milestone work anniversaries.

Citadel

The hedge fund and financial services company rewards employees in four key categories: continuous learning, events, healthy meals, and on-site fitness centers. Each benefits package totals more than $16,000 worth of services spanning tuition reimbursement, subsidized childcare, biometric screenings, and an on-site gym.

Last word on perks

Companies that don’t have a behemoth budget can still offer meaningful, valued employee benefits. One study found that, after health insurance, employees place the highest value on rewards that are relatively low-cost to employees, such as more paid vacation time, remote-work options, and flexible hours. Remember, in addition to improving workers’ day-to-day lives, benefits can give companies the competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent.

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