Strategies for crafting a winning employee benefits package

Originally published in SelectSoftware April 3, 2023

Building a successful company requires more than just great products or services. Without a great team of employees to help you reach your business goals, making a lasting impression in the market is impossible.

But locating and recruiting talented employees isn’t as easy as it was several years ago.

To remain competitive in the current labor market, businesses need to focus on crafting an attractive employment offering that goes beyond a competitive salary. Today, employees are looking for more than just a paycheck. They want to feel their employer values and respects them enough to reward them with a great employee benefits package.

1. Get employee input with focus groups and surveys

When evaluating or reevaluating your employee benefits package, the best place to start is by polling your current workforce. There is no better way to gauge what employees are looking for in a benefits package than by asking them directly.

The great thing is there are numerous ways to get feedback from your employees about what type of benefit plan might work best for them. You can start by conducting focus group meetings, surveys, or one-on-one interviews. Starting here helps to get a better sense of what employees value most regarding their benefits.

Anonymous surveys may also get more direct and honest feedback regarding any retirement benefits, health benefits, and employee wellness efforts you have in place. Perhaps you’re offering benefits that seem great on paper, but aren’t hitting the spot with your staff. An anonymous poll will allow them to voice concerns without fear of looking ungrateful or losing the assurance they have.

Getting your employees involved in the decision-making process around the types of employee benefits you offer helps you make better choices for the business. Involving your team also shows them that their opinions really matter. Loyalty that develops between an employer and employees pays dividends that far surpass the dollar value of putting together a benefits package.

2. Conduct a benefit/cost analysis

After you’ve gathered valuable feedback from your employees, it’s time to evaluate your current benefits offerings and see where making improvements is necessary. This process begins by conducting a benefit/cost analysis to determine a reasonable inclusion to your benefits package. And also, what might be too costly to add without breaking the bank.

This analysis will also require you to look at your company’s financial health. You’ll need to understand what you can afford to offer employees on an ongoing basis. You don’t want to overextend your company financially by adding too many perks and bonuses to the benefits package.

However, weighing the potential impact on your employee morale or recruitment efforts is important if your business is not meeting certain industry benchmarks. Specifically, regarding the “total” compensation, PTO, and incentives offered. In this case, the ROI of offering benefits is a significant consideration in how much you should prepare to spend.

3. Learn from other companies in your industry

If you can’t beat them, join them. It’s important to know what other employers in your industry are offering employee benefits so that you don’t get left behind.

Research the median competition in your industry and city. Conducting research will give you a better understanding of what is considered standard and popular among employers similar to you. It will also give you an indication of what candidates expect to get if they accept a job offer, or why there may be many that don’t.

Looking at the benefit offerings from some top companies in your field can also be a great source of ideas for crafting an attractive compensation package.

4. Keep your employee benefits packages flexible

The needs of your business, and by extension employees, are subject to change as your organization grows. As a result, it’s essential that your benefits package can adjust quickly and easily to accommodate your business’s changing demands.

To achieve this level of flexibility, look for opportunities to create customized benefits packages for each employee or department within your organization. This way, you can better tailor individual benefits offerings on an as-needed basis while still staying within your budget. For example, employees with a large family may prefer more immediate benefits like parental leave, wellness programs, or pet insurance. Others may prefer stock options and profit-sharing that pay dividends down the pike.

You may also want to offer different benefits to full-time employees than you do to part-time workers. Or team members who work from home may have different needs than those who travel to the office.

You may also decide over time that employees no longer need access to certain benefits or that they need additional coverage. A flexible employee benefits package will make sure you don’t lock into a specific format with vendors for years.

7 Top Employee Benefits Offerings Companies Should Consider

The business landscape has shifted considerably over the years. Companies are expected to offer an impressive array of benefits and a competitive salary. Here are some popular benefits offerings employers and human resources should consider when deciding on how to structure their total compensation packages:

1. Comprehensive health insurance packages

Health insurance is typically the cornerstone of any benefits package. Companies should make sure they’re offering comprehensive coverage that meets all of their employees’ needs. Employees needs could include medical insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, mental health support, and even life insurance depending on the size of your business.

An important consideration when deciding on a health insurance package that makes sense for your business is the cost-sharing ratio with employees. In other words, how much of the premium they are expected to pay versus what your business will cover.

Anonymous employee surveys help to identify what type of coverage your employees feel is necessary for them to access for themselves and their dependents. It is also a good way to assess what they’re understanding of health insurance is.

Know where your employees stand regarding knowledge and expectations of health benefits. This understanding is crucial for effective employee benefits communication. Getting a feel for employees benefits literacy will help you communicate your initiatives in a more productive way. This insight will also allow you to create a package that meets their needs and helps retain quality talent.

2. Retirement plans

Offering a retirement plan such as a 401(k) is an excellent way to help your employees save for the future. Employees will have access to tax-advantaged savings as well.

Employers can often select from different retirement savings plans and decide how much of a match or contribution you’re willing to offer. Offering a match or contribution encourages employees to take advantage of the program. Retirement programs are especially popular among older members of the workforce.

Retirement plans can be one of the more complicated benefits to administer in an organization. So, it’s essential to make sure you have the administrative workforce to incorporate this into your business.

3. Flexible spending accounts (FSA)

For smaller organizations, it can sometimes be challenging to afford a traditional health insurance package. Flexible spending accounts, also known as FSAs, can be an excellent alternative to a traditional health insurance plan.

FSAs are tax-free savings accounts that allow employees to prepay for healthcare-related expenses such as copays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket prescription costs. FSAs are an especially attractive benefit for workers who may have specific medical expense needs other than traditional health insurance plan coverage options.

FSAs allow employees the freedom to put their coverage amounts towards expenses that matter most to them. FSAs don’t restrict employees to having the same category of coverage. FSA funding is pretax for employers, and eliminates the risk of overpaying for rarely used healthcare benefits by employees.

4. Flexible working schedules

Over the last few years, many businesses have adapted to more flexible work arrangements to better accommodate their employees’ changing needs. Flexible work arrangements include remote work options, hybrid policies, compressed work weeks, or even allowing for a few extra days off each year.

For many people, the flexibility of working from home full-time or even part-time can make a huge difference in their overall quality of life. Many employees are now actively looking for when they’re deciding which employer they want to work for.

If your business can support a hybrid or fully-remote workforce, it can be a great way to attract and retain higher-quality talent. It also gives you the added benefit of reducing your overhead costs by cutting down on various expenses associated with hosting on-premise workforces.

5. Child care assistance programs

Childcare can be a huge expense for families. With many young parents in the workforce, businesses can help take some of that financial burden off their employees. Offering a child care assistance program gives your employees access to discounts or reimbursements for their expenses. Child care programs help reduce the stress of finding affordable services for their children while they’re at work.

The cost of providing a child care assistance program can vary depending on the size of your organization and the types of services you offer. It can be an invaluable way to show your employees that you care about their families and are willing to do what it takes to keep them happy and productive in the workplace.

Depending on the size of your business, you may also want to consider on-site childcare facilities. On-site facilities can be a great way to attract and retain employees, especially new parents who struggle to balance their professional and family lives. Even if it’s not an option, you can also look into partnering with reputable childcare providers in your area. You might be able to work out discounts or programs for employees of your business.

6. Unlimited vacation days

Many companies offer a limited number of paid vacation days to employees, but more and more companies are now providing unlimited paid vacation days. This benefit allows employees to take as many or as few vacation days as they need without worrying about financial repercussions.

Unlimited vacation days are a great way to show employees that you value their work-life balance. Providing this benefit shows you are willing to give them the freedom to take vacations whenever they need or want. It also helps companies save money on tracking each employee’s vacation time, which can be beneficial for small businesses with limited administrative staff.

Many business owners raise their eyebrows at offering unlimited vacation days. It seems unsustainable, but it can be a great way to boost morale and increase employee loyalty. You can always set some guidelines or expectations for tbis benefit so that employees don’t take advantage of it. Although unlimited paid time off may not be suitable for every organization, it’s worth considering if you’re looking to establish a great company culture.

7. Educational assistance and tuition reimbursement

Showing your current or future employees that you’re willing to invest in their career growth is a great way to boost morale. Many businesses now offer educational assistance programs or tuition reimbursement for employees who want to further their education, either professionally or personally.

These kinds of programs can come in the form of discounted courses, reimbursements for course materials, or even full tuition reimbursement for degree programs. Education and tuition-related benefits can be a great way to attract and retain top talent, showing that you value your employees’ ongoing learning and development.

In addition to helping your team members grow their skills, educational assistance programs can also benefit the company long-term. You’re giving employees the tools to become even more valuable members of your team. Educational assistance programs help create a more productive working environment and help organizations groom their employees for future promotions and leadership positions.

Start attracting top talent for your business

No matter how big, small, or established your company is, your employees are one of the most important investments you’ll make in the success of your organization.

Finding the right talent that will stick around for the long haul isn’t easy. So, it’s vital that you come to the table with a competitive employee benefits offering. Follow the steps outlined above and strike the right balance between business profitability and employee morale. You’ll be able to start attracting and retaining top talent for your business and create a culture of loyalty and high job satisfaction.

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