Top Employee Benefits and How to Use Them in Recruitment

LaKeisha FlemingBy LaKeisha Fleming
November 30th, 2023 • 8 Minutes

 You’ve found the ideal candidate. This person’s resume checks all your boxes, and then some. But when you extend an offer, you find out another company is pursuing them. It’s for the same job title, and for the same pay. Ultimately, however, you win and snag the perfect person for the job. All things being equal, what sways the vote in your favor? You find out that it’s the attractive perks that you offer with your employee benefits.

Benefits and incentives that come along with a job can make a difference in getting — and keeping — key employees. Almost 60% of employees say the benefits package is their first consideration when they decide whether to take a job.  For some workers, the perks mean more than pay. “One in 10 workers would take a pay cut to have access to better benefits,” according to a 2023 Forbes article.

But research shows a reduction in employee benefits may be on the rise in 2024. Glassdoor says access to perks like gym memberships and tuition reimbursement, along with expected benefits like retirement plans and dental insurance, may be declining. While benefits like mental health care and parental assistance seem to be holding steady, the fluctuations can leave employers and employees alike unsure of what to expect.

The knowledge of trends along with your company’s bottom line can leave you grappling with more questions than answers. You need to understand how the benefits you offer tie into the branding of your organization’s work environment to entice talent to come. Just as importantly, you need to know what the best benefits are to offer, and how you can leverage them when recruiting top talent.

How Do Employee Benefits Impact Your Company’s Culture?

When a potential new hire is considering your company, they’ll likely search online to find out more about your business. How it’s regarded in the industry and its financial strength will be important. But more than anything, employees want to know how you treat the people already working for you. And employee satisfaction is likely tied to their benefits. More than 70% of employees say the better their benefits, the happier they are with their jobs, according to Leftronic. If your business is known for giving employees desirable perks, it will increase their job satisfaction and make your workplace more attractive to potential candidates.

“By emphasizing a robust benefits package, including health and wellness initiatives, flexible work arrangements and professional development opportunities, employers can attract top talent seeking a workplace that values and invests in their overall success and satisfaction,” notes Einat Steklov, CEO and co-founder of Kashable.

Several companies have a clear understanding of the importance of an enticing benefits package. We have a few noteworthy examples below. They illustrate how businesses saw the results of rebranding strategies that included highlighting key perks.

Companies with Noteworthy Benefits Packages

Brother International Corporation

Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) provides an in-depth breakdown of Brother International’s strategy for building their company culture and attracting key talent. The company revamped their brand and their website. The results? A career site that gives a detailed description of a healthy slate of employee benefits. 

Identity theft protection, mental and emotional wellbeing and tuition reimbursement are extra allowances that the company offers. Brothers International’s website also spotlights employee testimonials and has a chatbot to answer job seeker questions. They say the changes have been worth it. The company boasts a 140% increase in job applications since putting the changes in place. For job seekers, having extra benefits, and knowing exactly what those benefits are, goes a long way.

Chipotle

“From an employer branding standpoint, Chipotle focuses on employee benefits, promotions, and inclusion,” notes AIHR. Chipotle’s Instagram page recognizes Shawn Hall, an employee who was drawn in by an enticing benefit, and didn’t look back. “Shawn began working at Chipotle during his college years, initially enticed by the tuition reimbursement benefits.​ Realizing quickly that it was more than just a job, he made it a career, going on to become a Restaurateur and Certified Training Manager,” the post notes. 

On the website’s career page, Janira, another employee, writes, “From crew member to General Manager and earning a 100% debt-free degree, Chipotle has changed my life in ways I never thought a job [could]. I’m proud of the company I chose to work for.” 

In addition to giving employees a platform to talk about their experiences, the career hub also has a link that breaks down benefits for crew members, managers and support center staff. The commitment to reinvesting in their employees, and offering benefits like mental health assistance, a stock purchasing plan and financial counseling have bolstered the company’s reputation, internally as well as in the industry. 

Eventbrite

How many workplaces let employees choose where they want to work? For Eventbrite, this stroke of creativity has branded the company as committed to its employees. People feel like the company genuinely cares and find the benefits hard to resist. 

The company lets employees choose to work completely remotely, to be in the office up to three days per week or to come to an Eventbrite hub four to five days per week. Eventbrite frequently shares stories from staff members on social media. Employees express how the company’s culture, and the willingness to put steps in place to help them succeed, keep them inspired to work with Eventbrite. 

Ninety-three percent of Eventbrite’s employees love where they work. That’s quite a boon compared to the workplace average of 57% of people who say that their business provides a positive atmosphere.  

Money talks. But so do benefits. A quality product and a sterling business reputation can pale in comparison to an image tarnished by an unhappy workforce. When it comes to a beneficial company brand, the perks matter. In fact, Forbes notes that 51% of employees say a feasible work life balance is the most critical component of company culture.

Employees also want a culture that feels inclusive, diverse and considerate of their needs. As a result, benefits that cater to different groups, from caregivers to people with emotional support pets, are making their way into the marketplace. These unique offerings can brand a workplace as forward-thinking, caring and invested in their employees’ quality of life.

 “There’s ample evidence that a great employer brand makes it easier to recruit and it also impacts the business’ bottom line in more than one way,” asserts a LinkedIn Employer Brand Statistics Survey.

What Are The Benefits Employees Want Most?

Onpay notes the most highly valued employee benefits are the ones that most of the workforce has come to expect.

  1.     Healthcare insurance
  2.     Time off with pay
  3.     Retirement plans
  4.     Vision benefits
  5.     Dental coverage

These benefits, however, start at the bare minimum. Employees also want the ability to pick the work environment that they prefer and have opportunities for advancement. Understanding what motivates employees most can help you focus your recruitment efforts to not only attract top-tier talent, but also keep the employees that you have.

“Job seekers increasingly seek employers who prioritize their well-being, valuing benefits that go beyond traditional offerings. Employers should highlight these offerings upfront, showcasing a commitment to supporting employees’ holistic needs,” explains Steklov.

Let’s look at the mandatory benefits, expected benefits and enticing perks that companies can offer.

What Are The Types of Employee Benefits?

Legally Required Benefits

Though they are classified as benefits, in reality these are mandatory rules that businesses must follow.

“Some legally required benefits [are]: minimum wage requirements, … overtime pay depending on fair labor standards act and exemption status, covering social security, Medicare, workers’ compensation [and] unemployment insurance,” says Jennifer Preston, HR and Recruiting Consultant for FlexHR“Some states require a retirement plan such as a 401k, depending on the number of employees. Benefits do vary state by state. It is important to understand the state-by-state nuances,” she adds.

Another required benefit can be Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). If you have 20 employees or more, this act lets employees keep their health benefits if they leave their job.

“Unlike any voluntarily provided benefits, legally required benefits act like a safety net for employees, providing workers and their families with retirement income and medical care, mitigating economic hardship resulting from loss of work and disability and covering liabilities resulting from workplace injuries and illnesses,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Standard Benefits

These are the benefits that most full time employees in the United States have come to expect. Though they vary by job position and company, most of these benefits are customary.

Insurance leads the top of the pack. Workers expect access to some type of employer-sponsored health insurance plan. Dental insurance is often a part of the package. Vision insurance may also be included. 

To stand out, employers need to offer more than just the basics. Most employers have figured out how to take care of employees’ basic health needs, but medical, dental and vision are no longer nice-to-haves that keep employees happy; they’re table stakes,” says Debra Thompson, Chief People officer at Chegg, in an interview with The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).  

Employees also expect a retirement plan, like a 401k. Although the level of employer match on retirement plans varies, most full-time jobs offer the option of investing for the future. Paid vacation time off is also a standard benefit.

“Core benefits, specifically healthcare and retirement plans, have become critical employee attraction and retention levers over the past 10 years. Roughly half of employees indicate that their healthcare (48%) and retirement (47%) plans were key to why they decided to work for their current employer,” per a 2022 benefits’ global wellness survey.

Extra Perks

Benefits in this category tend to help employees thrive and improve their quality of life outside of the office. Mental health care is a benefit that is gaining popularity, allowing for everything from visiting a therapist to time off for Mental Health Days. Family-friendly benefits, like fertility assistance and time off specifically for adoption-related issues are also becoming more attractive. These benefits represent the needs and desires of larger groups of people.

In fact, benefits aimed at groups that previously weren’t as widely represented are becoming more commonplace. Microsoft, Santofi, and Udemy now offer menopause benefits for employees. Among the benefits: physical therapy to help strengthen the pelvic region, and cooling stations located in the workplace. 

Research shows additional efforts are being made to cater to and support women in the workplace. A Morgan Stanley study notes that an increasing number of the top-tier talent being recruited are female. It’s critical that employers acknowledge and cater to their different needs.

More than 80% of all women are caregivers. They can spend 40% more time than men providing care. So benefits that address that need are highly regarded. Free childcare, flexible schedules to take family members to doctor’s appointments and not being penalized when time off is needed are incredibly desirable perks.

Research shows that employers can yield higher profits by making family-friendly policies more accessible, because the overall availability of benefits is associated with higher margins. Employees who receive caregiving support are 30% more likely to stay with employers,” notes AARP.

Gym memberships, tuition reimbursement and other learning and development opportunities are highly sought after by employees. A Businesswire survey of employees who were receiving tuition assistance found that 84% of the respondents joined their company because of the tuition benefit.

Mobile phone discounts, travel savings and even pet insurance are also emerging benefits. But working through the COVID-19 pandemic brought about one of the main perks that employees now seek — the ability to work remotely.

“According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, flexibility remains the top benefit that attracts new employees and also retains current employees. In our tight labor market, this is a benefit that continues to be a top seller,” Preston notes.

What Are The Best Ways to Use Benefits to Recruit And Retain Talent?

You know what employees want. You know what you can afford. And you know how important it is to have the right people in place for the success and future of your company. So, what is the best way to take all of that into account, and use it as a part of your recruiting process?

 

First, look at what matters most to your staff. Is yours a business that caters to parents? Time off to spend with family and childcare options may mean more than gym memberships. Provide options that appeal to them.

Recognition, rewards and benefits should not be approached as a one-size-fits-all. While many companies still offer a ‘benefits buffet’ – which aims to cater for all employees – it doesn’t think about the needs of an individual. Age and life stages have a great influence on what recognition, rewards and benefits would be relevant for employees,” explains Chris Ford, Blackhawk Network, when speaking to HR Grapevine.

Next, be transparent about what you have to offer. A person who wants to work from the home office may gravitate toward your job listing if it clearly says that remote or flexible work options are available. Conversely, candidates who are not interested in your company’s offerings won’t apply, saving you the time and effort of an unproductive interview.

And finally, deliver on the promise of the premise. If you say you’ll have an on-site daycare and free certificates for spa treatments, make sure that’s exactly what your employees receive. Create a happy work environment with employees who feel valued, trusted and heard.

“Benefits shouldn’t be just perks — they should be expected of an employer. When employees are stressed due to finances and personal challenges, it impacts their work and overall experience in the workplace. By providing compensation packages that help employees feel at ease financially, providing education incentives or well-being benefits, employees feel that their needs are being met — and exceeded,” Einat concludes.

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