5 Innovative employee benefits examples to attract top talent
Unemployment in the United States has reached the lowest rate in nearly 50 years. This comes as a result of nearly 10 straight years of economic growth — one of the longest stretches of economic expansion in the country’s history.
While this news is promising for job seekers, it can make attracting top talent a mounting challenge for human resources managers across industries. From a hiring standpoint, the job market is steeped in competition. Recruiting teams are left searching for ways to differentiate their organizations in the eyes of prospective employees.
As companies scour data to identify what professionals are looking for in job opportunities, they’re learning employees are increasingly interested in benefits and perks that often outweigh the draw of a high salary. In fact, recent statistics suggest that four in five employees prefer benefits and perks to a pay raise. And a Glassdoor survey found that nearly three in five people report benefits to be among their top considerations before accepting a new job.
As you contemplate ways to attract top-tier talent to your organization, consider whether the following five employee benefits examples could be sustainable within your business model.
5 Employee benefits examples that today’s professionals are seeking
Newer tech companies are known for their over-the-top employee perks — things like onsite exercise centers, chair massages, in-house chefs and nap rooms. While most organizations will never have the resources for such extravagances, there are some more realistic benefits your company could offer that employees find attractive.
1. Flexible schedules
According to a study from marketing agency Fractl, a longing for more flexible hours is second only to employees’ desire for better health, dental and vision insurance. In fact, 88 percent of survey respondents would consider a job that offers a lower salary over an opportunity with a higher salary but a fixed schedule.
While unlimited vacation days may not make sense for all organizations, companies in many industries could extend flexible schedule offerings to their employees. This allows employees to work hours that may differ from the normal company start and stop time. It’s a benefit that ranks as particularly important among parents, a key subgroup in today’s workforce.
2. Expanded family benefits
The United States remains the only industrialized nation that hasn’t mandated paid leave for mothers of newborns. Russia offers mothers 140 days of full pay. South Korea offers mothers 90 days of full pay. And the United Kingdom offers mothers and fathers 280 days of 90 percent pay. Those are just a few examples.
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 required American companies with more than 50 employees to offer mothers 12 weeks of unpaid leave. But recent years have seen more and more companies offering mothers — and sometimes fathers — at least some paid leave after a new baby is born or adopted.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17 percent of civilian workers had access to paid family leave in 2018. The same was true for 16 percent of private industry workers and 25 percent of state and local government workers. Even with the numbers slowly climbing, a majority of organizations don’t offer paid parental leave, making this benefit a sizable differentiator for potential parents.
But family benefits aren’t just limited to parental leave offerings. Companies can also consider offering employees reimbursement for childcare or opportunities to take caregiver leave if a family member is suffering from a serious health condition.
3. Tuition assistance
A recent survey from EdAssist found that nearly 60 percent of respondents maintained that they would choose a job with strong professional development opportunities over one with regular pay raises. This may be why a promising number of employers have begun to offer tuition assistance programs.
A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report revealed that 51 percent of respondents’ companies offered undergraduate educational assistance in 2018, while 49 percent offered graduate educational assistance. Although it might seem like a costly benefit to offer up front, tuition assistance can come back to benefit organizations in many ways.
For starters, companies can actually enjoy a decent tax break when they offer tuition assistance to their employees. According to the IRS, employers can provide up to $5,250 per employee for tuition tax free. It’s also true that investing in workers can provide other benefits. For example, an examination of Discover Financial Services’ program found that tuition assistance can increase a company’s return on investment (ROI) by 144 percent.
Employees may even be more likely to stay with the organization longer. A separate EdAssist study found that eight out of 10 respondents maintain tuition assistance makes them more likely to stay with their employer regardless of any policy requiring them to do so. And 85 percent reported that the program has made them more effective employees.
4. Student loan debt assistance
While many companies are investing in continuing their employees’ education, some organizations are also looking into helping employees pay off their student loan debt. It makes sense given that more than 44 million former college students in the United States collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loans.
A study from the Center for Financial Services Innovation reveals that personal financial stress serves as a notable distraction for more than one-third of employees while they’re at work. Much of this stress stems from lingering student loan debt.
The sheer number of professionals impacted by student loan debt means organizations could use this employee benefit as a sizeable draw-in for qualified employees. Some employers have begun to offer a monthly stipend for employees to put toward loan repayment — often with a lifetime maximum in place.
5. Wellness programs
Millennials currently constitute the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. They’ve also been dubbed “the wellness generation” for the ways these individuals prioritize health and fitness. As such, some employers are getting creative by offering benefits that cater to their employees’ desire for a healthy lifestyle. A notable 94 percent of surveyed CEOs believe a health and wellness program is essential to attracting top talent, according to a study conducted by Fitbit.
While most organizations don’t have the resources to implement an onsite fitness center, there are a number of elements companies can offer under the umbrella of an employee wellness program. Small steps toward the general health and wellness of your employees — hosting exercise classes, offering discounted gym memberships and providing healthy snacks — can go a long way.
Attract top-tier workers with desirable employee benefits
Employees have a lot of options in today’s job market. Recruiters across industries are saying that it hasn’t been this hard to hire qualified employees in decades. This means you may need to start thinking about attracting new hires with some of these employee benefits examples.
If you’re facing some challenges in recruiting top employees to work at your organization, it may be time to get creative with your offerings — but you don’t need to go at it alone. Visit University of Massachusetts Global’s Partner Organizations page to learn more about how we could work together to help meet your workforce needs.