With the US unemployment rate at 3.5%, the job-seeking competition is fierce. Employers are searching harder than ever for better ways to attract and retain top talent for their companies. One of the best ways for companies to attract top talent is by offering competitive benefits packages. But what benefits do employees value most? And which ones will give you the most value for money?
Invest in the following six benefits to help find and keep the best performers for years to come.
1. Flexible schedules
A healthy work-life balance has become increasingly crucial for the new generations of workers. A study conducted by Fractl and published in the Harvard Business Review found that flexible work hours are one of the top priorities for job seekers today.
In fact, another survey by FlexJobs found that employees value a flexible work schedule over their salary. This is good news for smaller companies that may not have the budget to offer fancier perks or higher pay rates to stay competitive in the hiring market.
Offering flexible hours is a simple, low-cost way for companies to attract great workers who want the freedom to spend time with their families, reduce stress, optimize their time, and live a balanced life.
2. Remote work options
Similar to flexible schedules, remote work is a big appeal in today’s job market for a few reasons:
- Eliminates (or reduces) commuting time
- Boosts employees’ real income when workers can live in more affordable locations
- Increases work-life balance with greater flexibility to make appointments, work around childcare and school schedules, and plan time to see family and friends
- Gives employees greater autonomy, supporting self-driven, high-performance workers
But the benefits go both ways. Companies that allow their employees to work remotely will see increased productivity from employees, reduced turnover, and lower overhead costs.
3. Generous PTO
According to a study by Project: Time Off, employees rank paid vacation as the second most important benefit after healthcare.
Some companies have taken notice and now offer employees unlimited PTO packages to attract and retain top talent. Yet, despite its popularity among Silicon Valley startups, relatively few organizations offer unlimited PTO—just 2% of US companies—which means those that do may be a lot more appealing to job seekers than the competition.
One reason flexible or unlimited PTO is so effective at attracting and retaining talent is because top performers tend to be self-sufficient and internally motivated. In other words, they don’t want someone micromanaging their time—including their time off.
Unlimited PTO programs imply that your company trusts its employees to manage their time and their work honestly and productively. This trust fosters a culture and work environment where top performers excel.
And the good news for employers is that better PTO packages tend to save companies money, with reduced vacation liability (averaging $1,898 per employee), fewer administration costs, and engaged employees who stick around. A win-win!
4. Family leave
Other benefits, including maternity and paternity leave options, are very important to employees looking for a family-friendly work-life balance.
Almost half of all American households (46%) have both parents working full-time outside the home, according to the Pew Research Center. This means employer-paid family leave can be a major incentive for working parents to seek out a company and stick with them.
One study by employee benefits provider Unum found that the majority of workers (58%) want paid family leave, including 64% of millennials. For some job candidates, family leave even outranks other popular benefits like flexible and remote working options, student loan assistance, and sabbaticals.
5. Life insurance
Traditional health, dental, and vision insurance remain essential priorities for most employees. However, companies that want to stay ahead of the curve should also consider adding life insurance to their benefits package.
According to BenefitsPro, 81% of employees want life insurance covered by their employer (but just 68% of employers believe they should offer it).
Many companies who opt to provide life insurance offer group-term life insurance. For group-term life insurance, employers can pay for policies in bulk to cover all employees, saving on costs. It is a relatively inexpensive option compared to individual life insurance, so most companies have high participation rates among their workforce.
Life insurance provides financial security to your employees, especially those with children, and can be an important selling point in your overall benefits package.
6. Education and student loan assistance
As student loan debt continues to rise, employers who can offer loan assistance or education support can set themselves apart from competitors.
According to the SHRM 2017 Employee Benefits survey report, only 4% of organizations currently offer financial aid to employees for student loan debt. Yet, it remains a highly coveted benefit among prospective employees.
While loan assistance and educational assistance sound pricey, the government offsets some of the costs through tax breaks. Companies can provide up to $5,250 of educational assistance per employee tax-free.
Designing a competitive benefits package isn’t easy—but it’s worth it. Compare your current benefit offerings to the list above to identify opportunities to improve the package.
Adding one, all, or a mix of these benefits to your employment packages can help set you apart from the competition and give your top performers the support they need to do their best work and the incentive to remain with the company.
About the Author: Kendra Madsen is a freelance writer who loves healthy living, the outdoors, and obsessing over plants. Having worked in the insurance industry for two years, she enjoys writing articles that help people navigate the complicated landscape of healthcare. When she isn’t writing, Kendra can be found exploring the mountains with her puppy or curled up at home with a good book.