When recruiting new workers, your benefit package may be as important as your salary offerings.1 Highly sought-after talent demands not just competitive salaries but also benefits packages that have value — and those specific benefits might not necessarily be things you immediately recognize as valuable. Employees today want to work with employers that understand what they value and honor the employees' desire to have balance in their lives.2

With the investment that goes into the recruitment and retention process, it's smart to develop a robust benefit package that helps to attract top talent and retain it.3 Once your company has made an investment in an employee, focus on maintaining that base and seeing a return on the investment.

Leveraging benefits in recruiting and retention

When you launch your recruiting plan, take time to review the benefits package your company offers and make it a focus of your recruitment process. Lead with what you have to offer. All companies offer compensation, and that's a fixed cost that typically involves working within a budget range when creating an offer. With benefits, you can often blur the lines a bit to present a package tailored to the individual.4 Let your applicants know that, by working with you, your company can offer additional value that's both monetary and intrinsic.

Benefits are also a point of negotiation.5 When working through the offer process, employers may offer to provide additional time off or a split work week between the office and the employee's home. Negotiating reimbursement of student loans or other education expenses is another way to entice a prospect.

Benefit packages can be viewed as more important in tight job markets as a way to distinguish a company from its competitors.6 And benefits are equally important in times of economic downturns.

Many components of benefits package have little to no cost to employers but have high value to employees. For example, offering a wide range of opt-in style benefits allows employees to access resources they may need for financial or other security. In times where your budget may not allow you to meet your employees' desires for salary increases, you may be able to increase benefits to bridge the gap and reduce turnover.

Benefits that are attractive to prospects

The types of benefits employers offer are growing at a rapid pace.7 However, it's important to get the ratios right to appeal to potential hires. Include things that translate to monetary benefits, such as dental or vision insurance, and company culture-related benefits that can make an employee consider your business over a similar offer.

According to Harvard Business Review, some of the highest-rated benefits to consider include:8

  • Reliable, affordable health insurance: Offer multiple options for a range of insurance types, like short- and long-term disability, dental plans and vision care. Flexibility is important to all employees, as is the quality of benefits available to choose from.

  • Flexible work schedules: Offering flexible hours, remote working or abbreviated weeks is a benefit employees highly value, and it doesn't have a high cost for employers.

  • Unlimited paid time off: Although this is a relatively new concept, jobseekers note that it would be a valuable benefit they'd heavily consider when evaluating a job offer.

  • Health and wellness perks: This includes access to onsite fitness centers, gym reimbursement or free memberships, meditation classes and similar benefits.

It's also essential to tailor benefits to serve the different types of employees you have. Studies show that Gen X employees are financially focused. Some of the benefits that are most important to this age group include paid time off, bonus plans and retirement options.9 Student loan reimbursement is an important benefit for millennials who may have five-figure or higher debts left from attending college.10

Cost of employee turnover

Employee turnover can have high costs. If you invest in training a worker only for them to leave for another company soon afterward, it wasn't a beneficial investment for your business. But the right benefits can keep employees from leaving, preserving your investment in the process and helping you retain high-quality talent.

Consider the cost of onboarding one employee. From the recruitment process, which can be lengthy, to training and ramping, companies invest substantial amounts in their employees. The Society for Human Resources Management, or SHRM, notes that it costs about $4,100 on average to hire and train a new employee.11

It's important to protect that investment through a retention strategy that includes monitoring your benefit package to ensure it aligns with what your employees need and want in order to remain loyal and productive. A study by SHRM indicates that more companies are tweaking benefits to improve employee retention and remain attractive to prospects.12

Use the power of your benefit package to snag the best talent in the market – and then to keep those employees on your staff. Build culture and loyalty by reviewing benefits and surveying your employees so you know what's important to them. Protect and grow your investment in your employees by leveraging benefits to augment salaries in both abundant and lean markets.

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