Originally published in Mirro September 27, 2023
Virtually every employer offers health insurance, retirement, and other standard benefits as part of a competitive compensation package to attract and retain top talent.
Unfortunately, employees expect more than health insurance and a competitive salary. They want the minimum employee benefits expected for their field, but what really sets companies apart is the offer of unique employee benefits that are customized to serve the needs of employees, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
If you want to win the battle for top talent and keep them loyal to your company, you have to level up your employee benefits. Here are the seven employee benefits that increase retention.
Are you keeping your employees on a 9-5 schedule, Monday through Friday? What about employees who need to balance childcare or make doctor’s or dentist’s appointments? Do they need to take the day off to care for those needs?
Employees want flexible schedules that help them manage their day-to-day responsibilities and their work, especially after the pandemic. Offering flexibility allows parents, caregivers, working students, and other types of employees to balance their obligations without wasting all their time off on the normal parts of being an adult.
Keep in mind that a flexible schedule can mean different things to different people. If you have employees who want to be there for their kid’s pickup and drop off or set appointments, a truly flexible schedule is ideal. A hybrid work schedule with remote and in-office days will be better for some. However, if you choose to implement flexibility, consider your employees’ needs to ensure they can have a work-life balance.
Unlimited paid time off
How do you have your PTO set up? Are employees limited to 10 or 14 PTO days, plus holidays and weekends, each year? Do you have flexibility if something comes up, or do your employees need to work for no pay when they run out of PTO days?
While the idea of unlimited PTO can be terrifying for an employer, you needn’t worry. Employees actually take fewer PTO days when they have unlimited PTO.
Why? It comes down to pressure. When employees have only a certain number of days each year, which they typically lose at year’s end, they feel pressured to take all the time available. That could lead to a lot of last-minute requests for five days off leading into the new year.
Conversely, when employees have no limits to their days off, they feel they can take them appropriately and as needed, knowing they’re not losing anything. They don’t take advantage of that generosity.
Unlimited PTO can be set up in a way that works for your company. Some companies offer unlimited PTO with an unofficial cap that allows a maximum of a month or six weeks. Most employees don’t take all that time. If you’re concerned, offer unlimited PTO for a year, evaluate your employees’ average time off, and plan your cap.
All employers need to offer healthcare coverage to stay competitive. Everyone needs health insurance, and most people find it to be a financial burden as a private payer, so it’s an important consideration in evaluating job offers.
How can you set yourself apart if that’s the bare minimum? Health insurance is a given, but how you tailor it to your employees’ needs is the differentiator. Offering unique coverage options during open enrollment can give you a competitive edge while serving your employees’ needs, such as telemedicine options or fertility care.
Health insurance is the most expensive benefit for both employers and employees. Offering customizable coverage options ensures that your employees feel like it’s money well spent and that you’re paying into coverage that your employees can actually use.
Childcare isn’t included in most healthcare plans – nor is it a common benefit that job seekers come across. But if the pandemic taught us anything, childcare costs can be a significant burden for working parents – perhaps even preventing them from working at all.
If you include childcare coverage for your employees, both of you benefit. Your employees have relief from a big financial burden and reliable childcare to show up to work, and you have consistent employee attendance. You’re also showing employees that you understand their sacrifices as working parents with a family.
You can offer childcare in many ways according to your employees’ needs and budget. On-site childcare, subsidies for off-site childcare options, or reimbursement can work well, but ensure it’s the best way to serve your employees.
Self-care is a renewed focus after the tumult of the pandemic and potentially dangerous working conditions. People are prioritizing themselves, whether that means therapy, fitness memberships, wellness retreats, or the occasional mental health day.
You can support your employees’ wellness with self-care benefits beyond health coverage. Options like a subscription to a therapy or wellness app, a discounted fitness club membership, or flexible spending accounts ensure your employees are happy, healthy, and productive.
Employee stock options
Employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs) are an excellent benefit to care for your employees’ financial health as much as their physical and mental health. With ESPPs, you’re giving employees the option to purchase stock in your company for a discounted price, leading to future returns.
ESPPs not only prove that you believe in your company and its future, but they show both current employees and job seekers that you believe in your company’s trajectory and have big plans for its growth and profitability. And because your success is directly connected to their financial success, they’re more invested in your company’s goals and objectives.
Make sure that your ESPP offer has clear guidelines, however. Set the amount of stock shares your employees can purchase and for what discounted price. That should be the guideline for your future hires to keep it fair and standard.
If you’re in a position to offer discounts for your employees for your products or services, this is an excellent perk. For example, retailers often offer generous discounts for employees to shop in-store. Restaurants often provide meal discounts.
Employee discounts show appreciation but also give you free promotion and employee advocacy. You may even attract job seekers based on the possibility of an employee discount.
Suppose your company isn’t the type to have products or services that are appropriate for your employees at a discounted price. In that case, you can provide an alternative like gift cards, holiday bonuses, or extra vacation time.
It’s essential to have guidelines for your employee discount, however. You may limit the discount to regular-priced merchandise and not sale or clearance items or put in a limitation to ensure it can’t be combined with other offers. It’s good to have a set percentage as well. Most companies offer at least 10%, but a 15% or 20% discount may be more attractive to your employees and prospective candidates.
Offer competitive employee benefits to retain your employees
Benefits are an important part of competitive compensation and job satisfaction. If you’re currently offering benefits, consider how to level up your offering to give your employees unique perks personalized to their needs. Financial planning, health and wellness, unlimited PTO, and flexible schedules are among the top benefits that can elevate employee satisfaction and earn loyalty.