Building a More Competitive Employee Benefits Package
We’ve already discussed some big-ticket items that make up your company’s benefits package: health insurance, life insurance, and retirement benefits. Now it’s time to look at a few of the cheaper options on the table. These may not seem like large or important benefits, but they can make the difference in a potential hire choosing you over another employer. They can increase employee morale and productivity too!
As you’re crafting your benefits package, be creative and open to the possibilities. Some benefits that don’t cost you a cent could mean the world to your employees. You can even make up benefits you’ve never heard of! Your employees make your company possible. Reward them with benefits that make them thankful to work for you and likely to stay around a long time.
Disability insurance pays some percentage of your employees’ lost income if they become disabled. It comes in two types, short-term and long-term. Short-term disability insurance can be used for accidents, illnesses, or even childbirth, that keep them away from work for a term of up to three or six months. In some states—California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island—you are legally required to offer short-term disability insurance to your employees.
Long-term disability benefits can continue for the rest of a disabled employee’s working life, up to retirement. It will cover their income needs in the event they are unable to work again.
Even if you aren’t legally required to offer it, disability insurance, like life insurance, gives employees peace of mind.
Family and Medical Leave
According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, any business employing at least 50 people is required to offer twelve weeks per year of unpaid leave to an employee who is ill, caring for a sick family member, or welcoming a child. During this time, their job must be protected and they must continue to be covered by employee health insurance.
You are not required to pay them during this time, but offering paid leave can be an important benefit, especially to employees with children. Paid maternity and paternity leave, whether six weeks, twelve weeks, or more, is an important factor employees consider when they hope to have children soon. You can offer partial or full pay during this leave.
Most employers offer paid holidays and some amount of vacation time. For holidays, you can offer days off on federal holidays, let employees choose their religious holidays, or offer a “floating holiday” that can be used on any day if they choose to work that holiday.
For vacation time, two weeks is standard, with more available the longer an employee has stayed with the company. There are a few different ways to arrange it. If unused time accrues for years, you may be on the hook for unused time when they leave the company. You can choose to have unused time vanish at the end of the year, which will encourage employees to actually take their vacation time and avoid burnout. An employee culture where no one uses their vacation time makes it hard for anyone to break ranks and use theirs.
Alternatively, some employers offer unlimited vacation time. This way, there’s no unused time accruing, because employees can simply take a day or week when they feel they need one. Surprisingly, employees don’t necessarily take more time off when they are allowed to choose how much to use. Instead, they consider how much they can take and still get their work done. Being treated like an adult who can be trusted to make this decision sends an important message to employees. Not many employers offer it, making it a coveted benefit, while costing you little to nothing.
Flextime and Telework
Another way to make employees feel like responsible partners is allowing them to choose when and where to do their work. Flextime offers flexibility in scheduling: an employee can choose to work more hours a day to get a day off every week or two, start earlier to get off in time to pick up children from school, or even have total freedom to do their hours at any time. This won’t work for every kind of company, but if it works for you, it can drastically increase employee satisfaction without costing you a cent.
Telework has become vastly more common lately, and many companies who thought they couldn’t adapt to it have actually found that their employees are still able to be productive at home. Even if some work has to be done in-office, offering telework as an option once a week can save employees commuting time and money, at no cost to you.
The employees who value flex time and telework the most are often parents. If you employ many workers with children, this can be an important retention strategy. You want your employees to feel they don’t have to choose between working for you and having a family.
Vision and Dental
It’s an oddity of the insurance market that eyes and teeth aren’t covered by health insurance. They’re a part of the body, too, and problems with them can affect the health of the whole body. The good news is that vision and dental insurance aren’t that expensive for employers to offer.
Vision and dental insurance can help employees be proactive in getting their yearly checkups, which can prevent bigger problems down the line. Your small investment can save them money in the long term. While not required legally, vision and dental are benefits that employees value when looking for a new job. 79% of Americans have dental benefits, the majority through their job, and prefer a job that offers them.
In addition to the common benefits above, there are countless possibilities for additional benefits to sweeten any job offer. These include:
- Student loan assistance. This can be important for young employees who have college debt.
- Tuition assistance for continuing education. You can offer to pay for certain kinds of education, or simply offer a specific amount which can go toward any education program.
- Commute reimbursement. If your employees are coming from a long way, taking public transit, or paying for parking, you can reimburse them for any of these costs. This subtracts the disadvantage you might have in the labor market for being located somewhere that costs employees money to reach.
- Childcare. Few small businesses can afford to set up a daycare, but a business of any size can help connect employees with childcare or even allow employees to bring children to work on select days.
- Professional advice. You can pay for your employees to see a counselor, career coach, or financial advisor.
Choosing the Right Benefits for You
Now that you’ve considered all the benefits you could offer, it’s time to select which ones are right for your company. First, of course, select all the benefits you are legally required to offer. Next, consider what benefits are most important to your employees. Last, consider the costs of each and what you can afford. Some benefits don’t cost a cent!To help make a business plan that leaves room for benefits, or to offer your employees the benefit of financial advice, a financial advisor can be an invaluable ally. Call us today to be matched to an advisor who is right for you.