Employee expectations are rising and for many employers, it feels harder than ever to attract the right candidates for your team.
With so many shifts in the talent market, you need to cut through the hype to figure out which employee benefits will really help attract the best employees — without having to make drastic changes to your business model or <gulp> budget. 😬
But with so many employee benefits to choose from, how do you know which ones will really bring the ROI? Never fear — no info-dumping here!
Today, we’re going to walk you through a list of reasonable benefits that will actually work for your business (rather than listing all the fringe benefit perks we can think of A to Z). For an overview of everything you need to know about employee benefits, read on. These nine suggestions are not only desirable — they’re totally doable for growing businesses.
All the answers to your burning benefits questions:🔥
- Wait…what are employee benefits again?
- Why should employers offer better employee benefits?
- How to create the perfect employee benefits package
- Which employee benefits should you offer?
- 9 popular perks you can’t afford to miss
Wait…what are employee benefits again?
Simply put, employee benefits are any perks offered to employees on top of their base salaries or hourly wages. A well-rounded employee benefits package will take care of employees’ needs, whether those needs are medical, dental, or sunny-beach-vacation related. 🏖️
In today’s labor market, you need a high quality compensation package and a working knowledge of employee benefits to stay agile.
Some employee benefits are mandatory. Some are voluntary. And a few are even required by law. To understand which benefits are legally required and why, always check with your legal team. But here’s a quick list of employee benefits that are typically required by law:
- Medicare and Social Security contributions
- Unemployment insurance
- Workers' compensation insurance
- Family and medical leave
Almost every other benefit — from health insurance and paid time off to gym memberships and free coffee — is totally voluntary. That means you get to decide what goes on your benefits platter. And if you want to keep it ultra-appetizing for high-quality candidates, you need to keep the current market demands in mind.
“So how much is all this benefits stuff gonna cost me?”
Now that you know a little bit more about employee benefits, we think we can guess your next question.
And we’ll be real — an attractive and well-run employee benefits package can get expensive. In addition to the money needed to pay for the benefits, you also need to factor in the labor cost of setting up, maintaining, and administering those benefits from year to year.
It also doesn’t help that benefits are getting costlier year after year. In the last five years, benefits-adjacent costs have increased by 5-7% percent per year on average.
In 2022, the US Bureau of Labor reported that employer costs for employee compensation averaged $40.90 per hour. Salaries comprised about 69% of that number, meaning benefits made up 31% of total compensation. That works out to about $12.75 per hour per employee.
And while that may seem steep for growing companies, it’s usually worth it.
Why should employers offer better employee benefits?
In a competitive labor market, attracting top talent is everything. And with many job seekers juggling multiple offers, you need a competitive benefits package to get a leg up on the competition.
But offering great employee perks and benefits isn’t just about dominating your recruitment marketing. Building a competitive benefits package lets your employees know you’re invested in their wellbeing, job satisfaction, and their future plans. All of which improves employee engagement, productivity and retention. What’s not to love? 💞
But while benefits packages have always helped sweeten the deal, you need to keep your ear to the ground to know which benefits really matter to today's job seekers and employees. (This is especially true in the current hiring climate where benefits are more important — and more visible — than ever.)
Despite having a reputation as a “set-it-and-forget-it” endeavor, more employees are starting to think about how benefits impact their workplace experience. “The pandemic really did confirm that people care about their benefits,” says Carla DeMello, the president of employee benefits at GCG. “People are suddenly…having conversations with their neighbors and their friends about their experience with benefits…that probably didn’t occur as commonplace as in the past.”
In the midst of so much uncertainty, it’s only natural that employees want to feel secure. Not only financially, but emotionally and physically too. And therein lies the power of a strong employee benefits package.
So how can you create a pitch-perfect employee benefits package for your organization?
“The way that the language around employee benefits was both from vendors and HR experts before the pandemic was very much this ‘magic potion,’ this ingredient list,” James Davis, host of HR Works podcast, explains. “And if you just got all the ingredients right, then you would get the right people in your organization.”
But while a strong benefit buffet does play a major role in recruitment, they’re also very personal. There are different demands in different industries, worker generations and more. So how can you create a robust package while avoiding one-size-fits-all pitfalls? 🕳️🚶🏻
“There’s no such thing…as a recipe of benefits to get people in the door,” James explains.
That’s why many organizations are moving towards benefits personalization and voluntary benefits — services that are offered by an employer at a thrifty group rate but paid for (either in part or in full) by an employee.
These supplemental benefits are optional add-ons that employees can opt into, meaning they are more tailored to individual needs.
Some popular examples include:
- Life insurance
- Disability insurance
- Accident insurance
- Pet coverage
- Legal support
- Financial advising
- And more!
The data agrees. According to Aon, voluntary benefits are 41% more available in 2022 than they were in 2021.
Not only do employers want to recruit and retain top talent, but employees also are more interested in supplemental health insurance benefits and other perks that can help keep them healthy and financially protected amid pandemic uncertainty. Makes sense, right?
Being able to provide a range of benefits that meets employees where they are means that you can do the most good for the greatest number of people, without totally blowing through your budget. Whether you’re offering more robust healthcare options or investing in mental health plan benefits, there’s always a way to help guide your employees through uncertain times.
Which employee benefits should you offer?
Employee benefits packages are an indispensable tool for snagging (and keeping!) top-tier employees, not to mention helping your employer brand stand out from the herd. But with so many benefits to choose from, how can you know which perks to offer?
When it comes to prioritizing benefits, the first step is to listen to your employees.
In a recent SHRM survey, employees identified the three benefits they want most:
- Ample paid time off 🌴
- Paid family leave 👪
- Flexible working options 💼
These baseline benefits should be your top priorities. Candidates want them, and soon they’ll come to expect them. But if you really want to know which employee benefits to offer, you need to ask your own employees.
Crafting an effective benefits package is a balancing act — it takes careful consideration and loads of employee feedback (feedback which is already a part of your employee retention strategy … right?) to do it well. Use surveys, focus groups, or a mixture of both to test the waters. Ask your employees what they value. Then use that to build a better benefits package.
Rethinking your employee benefits package? 9 popular perks you don’t want to miss
Think of your employee benefits package like a patchwork quilt. The more perks you stitch on, the larger and cozier it’ll be. And when your employees are wrapped up all snug in their hand-stitched blanket, they won’t look twice at another company because they have everything they need right here.
Got it? Alright, time to get stitching!
Here are the top nine perks employees want right now:
Summer Fridays ☀️
One way to boost morale and infuse a little fun into the workplace is by implementing Summer Fridays (or Autumn Fridays, if that’s your jam). Whether you opt for a shortened schedule of work hours, remote-only work, or a jeans-and-a-t-shirt casual dress vibe, Summer Fridays give employees something to look forward to.
In-office lunches 🍱
If your team is on the smaller side, one way to build camaraderie and entice employees into coming back to the office is by offering in-office lunches. On a specified day, allow your employees to vote on a fave lunch spot, load up the team, and get to noshing. You can also do a group to-go order if schedules are tight and transportation is limited. Either way, it’s all about the connections shared over tasty food that fills the belly and the team spirit!
Reproductive health care ♀️
In our current climate, reproductive health care is a hot-button issue and a major concern for many employees. Offering reproductive health support can mean a lot of different things. Whether you provide free tampons and sanitary pads in the office bathroom or subsidize your workers’ reproductive health procedures, stepping in and standing up for your workers makes a major impact. And with 46% of employees choosing their current job based on comprehensive health coverage, offering reproductive health benefits can give you a real edge.
Newborn and child care 🍼
Offering newborn and child care for your parent employees makes them feel like the company supports their work-life balance. And not only does it give new parents peace of mind, it also boosts productivity because they don’t have to worry about their child’s safety or their financial security while at work. Win-win!
Mental health support 🧠
While one in five American adults experience mental illness, only one in three get the help they need. This makes it harder to work, harder to smile, and harder to live a productive life. That’s why offering mental health support is oh-so-important. In addition to offering mental health coverage for therapy bills and prescription costs, cultivate a work-life balance culture and generate an open dialogue around mental health. Whether you add in a meditation room, encourage employees to use their vacation time, or provide accommodations for struggling employees, a little kindness goes a long way.
Daily pay 💰
Daily pay means that employees can request their wages at the end of their shift rather than bimonthly (or however your billing team rolls). Pay flexibility can be a major draw, especially for younger candidates. And because it’s the same pay, just earlier, this is a no-cost benefit.
401(k) plans 💸
You don’t always need flashy benefits to keep your employees around — sometimes you just need to amp up the benefits you already offer. Try shortening the vesting requirements for your 401(k) plans, encouraging rollovers, or waiving matching requirements.
Student loan assistance 🏦
A little student loan assistance can go a long way in showing your young employees (or older folks continuing their education) that you care about their emotional and financial wellbeing. Paying back student loans is stressful and knowing that your employer has your back can give your employees some much-needed peace of mind. Even if you can’t afford to offer a ton of assistance, it’s the gesture (and the thought!) that counts.
Phased retirement 🧓🏻
When it comes to planning for retirement, some employees may want alternative options. Instead of an all-in-or-all-out mentality, consider offering phased retirement plans. Whether that means gradually re-entering the workplace after a prolonged absence or phasing out from full-time to part-time to free-time, accommodating different schedules and preferences is attractive to employees. It also shows that you’re willing to have open and employee-directed conversations about benefits, which is always a draw.
Win better candidates with better benefits
We’re not here to scare you into thinking your best employees will up and quit unless you start offering cold brew on tap and healthy snacks in the office kitchen. (Though doesn’t that sound tasty? Mmm….)
We’re here to challenge you to really think about the function of a stellar employee benefits package. If your current package has a few holes in it and top-notch candidates are passing you by, it’s probably time to review and reconsider.
As the working world evolves, employee benefits are going to evolve right alongside it. So think about it: If your benefits could speak, what would they say about your organization? Do they align with employee needs and candidate expectations?
A good benefits program may fly under the radar, but a bad one will stick out like a sore thumb. Build a top-tier benefits package that employees adore and candidates can’t resist, and watch the applications roll in.
Back up those five-star benefits with a modern recruitment process candidates love. At Breezy, we’re proud to serve thousands of growing companies committed to finding the right person for the role — not just another warm body. Find out how it works with a free 14-day trial.