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Valuable Job Benefits That Cost Next-to-Nothing

These days, providing employees with world-class benefits can practically put an employer out of business. But can you attract top talent without it? And what’s important to job seekers these days anyway?

To answer that last question, we turn to a recent study by Fractl that shows the following heavy-hitters when it comes to attractive job perks. Before getting extra creative with perks like pet-friendly policies and beer kegs, it’s important to know what actually makes top talent take notice. Fractl found that job seekers would consider choosing a lower-paying job with better benefits if those benefits include:

  • Better health, dental, and vision insurance
  • More flexible hours and work-from-home options
  • More vacation time or unlimited vacation
  • Student loan or tuition assistance
  • Paid parental leave
  • Free gym membership, onsite gym or fitness/yoga classes
  • Free day care services
  • Free snacks or coffee
  • Company-wide retreats, weekly employee outings, or team bonding events

Now that you know, how can you make it happen? Adam Boyd of Beneplace recommends a savings platform that can help employees with their specific financial needs. Features even include employee purchase programs and wildly popular buy-now-pay-later programs employees can use to make emergency purchases for their home or family.

We’ve compiled additional ideas and resources that make some of these highly sought-after perks surprisingly within reach.

  • Shop around for health perks: Employers with fewer than 50 workers aren’t required to provide health insurance and, to be honest, the prospect of doing so in the current landscape can be impossibly cost-prohibited. But it’s important to note that the tax-savings and other benefits of offering health insurance can greatly offset the cost. Group dental and visions plans can be surprisingly affordable, and simply administering tools like health savings accounts (HSAs) for employees who pay for their own insurance can be a great way to show employees you care while you work toward more comprehensive healthcare benefits.
  • Consider flex time and working from home: When workers take time off, it costs you money. Offering flexibility and work-from-home options can go far in keeping workers working while they balance life’s little surprises that would have otherwise meant time off. Flex strategies like staggering worktimes can help businesses reduce facility costs and allowing work from home in certain situations can pay off, too. Global Workplace Analytics asked companies about their flex time results and found AT&T’s telecommuters work more hours at home than its office workers, JD Edwards teleworkers are 20-25 percent more productive than their office colleagues, and American Express employees who worked from home were 43 percent more productive than workers in the office.
  • Make an effort with health and fitness perks: You don’t need an onsite gym to dazzle top talent with your health and fitness perks. Why not go old-school and sponsor an employee softball or kickball team or league? If there’s a gym nearby, ask them about offering your employees discounts or sending an instructor over for weekly classes in exchange for promoting additional services. Freelance instructors, massage therapists, and other professionals may also be willing to participate. Or take the coaching online. There are dozens of wellness apps available that can help employees and teams motivate each other to better fitness. Austin-born MyFitnessPal, now owned by UnderArmour, is a classic option and here are others.
  • Digitize recognition and rewards: The gamification of recognition and rewards with online portals like YouEarnedit means the perks can practically administer themselves. These platforms allow co-workers to dole out real-time recognition, which can result in meaningful rewards that you choose—from gift cards to team outings. The platforms and rewards aren’t free to you, but you do get a valuable bonus: actionable analytics that can help you intelligently boost collaboration and engagement and, ultimately, increase retention. Plus, Boyd adds, recognition and engagement programs have low overhead and include something for everyone in the company, regardless of age or life stage.

There’s no question; benefits are expensive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers shell out an average $11.31 per hour in benefits for each worker. For most employers, that adds up to nearly half of their payroll expenses. But one could argue that the cost of not providing competitive benefits is much greater. Start out by incrementally offering some of the low-cost perks we mention above. Build a solid foundation that shows your company’s commitment to things like employee health and work-life balance, which can go a long way in attracting the right talent.