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5 Perks and Benefits That Employees Actually Care About

Hint: It’s not ineffective wellness programs or employee discounts


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The job market is tighter than ever in our booming economy, which means that hiring businesses need to make a compelling case to job seekers on why they should come work for them.

Competitive salaries and a strong company culture are a given, but what about perks and benefits? What can your company offer to candidates that will impact their decision? (Hint: It’s not ineffective wellness programs or employee discounts to places that may or may not align with their values.)

Here are the five benefits that employees want to see from prospective employers.

Healthcare Coverage

This is the one benefit to rule them all: A survey from Clutch found that over half of those surveyed felt health insurance was the most important benefit in terms of job satisfaction.

As healthcare costs continue to rise to unprecedented levels, many workers know that an employee-sponsored healthcare plan can help ease the financial burden in the case of an emergency or prolonged illness.

If your business has fewer than 50 employees, you aren’t mandated to provide health insurance. But doing so may be worth the investment anyway as happy and satisfied workers are more productive and less likely to leave.

Paid Time Off and Holidays

The most popular perk among “young” people (if millennials are still considered young) is paid time off and vacation. Luckily, it’s the one most commonly offered benefits by businesses.

No worker wants to feel as though they’re sacrificing their long-term financial stability by taking a vacation. Work-life balance is important to younger workers and taking time off, with the peace of mind that their paycheck and their position will be there when they return, is crucial to maintaining that balance. 

True Flexibility

It’s not a coincidence that four of the top five perks listed in a Harvard Business Review (HBR) study of the perks most valued by job seekers had to do with either taking more vacation time or having more flexible hours and work-from-home options.

The jig is up when it comes to rigid work hours and rules. Thanks to technological improvements as well as collaboration and communication apps, it’s easier than ever for your team members to work remotely. That might mean working from home or answering emails on a train while headed away for a weekend trip.

Businesses that offer employees the option of working flexibly recognize that getting work done on time is more important than where or how it happens. Workers increasingly appreciate and value that approach.

Continuing Education

A company that offers continuing education classes, or a stipend that they can put towards taking classes outside the workplace, demonstrates that they’re invested in their employees as people, not just as workers.

There are many avenues you can take to help your employees become more well-rounded and better equipped to serve your company in different capacities. This includes online learning courses, in-office workshops or classes at nearby schools and universities.

Employees will appreciate that you are committing some of your resources to making them a more attractive candidate going forward. (Even though career development improves retention, meaning they’ll be less likely to leave the company in the long run.)

Paid Parental Leave

As a country, the United States is failing to keep up with other industrialized nations when it comes to paid parental leave. In fact, we rank last out of all the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. This is because only one in five U.S. workers has access to paid leave after welcoming a new child into the family.

Paid maternity/paternity received more heavy consideration by prospective employees than tuition assistance in the HBR study. For people who are thinking of starting a family, this perk is of great importance. Offering it shows that you put your money where your mouth is when it comes to work-life balance — since no new working parent wants to have to choose between their child or their job. 

The list of attractive perks doesn’t stop here, of course. If it’s within your budget, you could continue filling out your benefits list, adding things like unlimited snacks or gym classes. But if you’re not including most, if not all, of the benefits listed above, you’re not going to convince top prospects that your business is truly one of the best places they can work.

Eric Goldschein is an editor and writer at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions such as small business loans. He covers entrepreneurship, small business trends, finance, and marketing.

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