Employee benefits: Which perks really
matter to employees?

October 29, 2018  /  
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Employee benefits: Which perks really matter to employees?

Ping pong. Happy hours. Bring-your-dog-to-work days. Work perks have been a big topic of discussion for employers since the startup boom began almost a decade ago. And now that unemployment rates are slowing down, hiring competition is on the rise—and companies are having a tougher time finding quality candidates to fill their needs. Providing the real benefits employees actually want can help you stand out in the marketplace, as well as attract and maintain the top talent you’ve been searching for. Here’s what employees really want out of a stellar benefits package in 2018 and beyond.

The basics still matter—a lot

Employees are no longer wooed by the shiny but often shallow offerings that were trendy several years ago. Things like dry cleaning pickup, unlimited snacks, fancy company events, and desk-side massages are far from essential—and many job-seekers now view them as an attempt to cover up long hours and structural challenges. Instead, they’re interested in the fundamentals most of us expect from an employer—good compensation, health care coverage, and flexibility in their workday.

Harvard Business Review asked 2,000 employees what benefits would make them consider a lower-paying job over a higher-paying one. Better healthcare and more flexible work hours tied for the top two spots on the list, followed by more vacation time and the option to work from home. Things like free coffee, an on-site gym, and weekly free employee outings ranked near the bottom. When I asked employees on my team here at SVG what matters most to them, they answered the same way—competitive compensation, 401k matching, and health care coverage were repeated again and again.

Why benefits matter

For most companies, employee turnover is pretty expensive. And while you can’t always control every factor that causes someone to leave your company, there is plenty you can do to reduce them. Employees who feel cared for by their employer rarely feel the need to seek other employment, and benefits are a great way to manage that.

The important long-term benefits mentioned before let employees know you care about helping them maintain their lives outside the workplace—that includes access to resources that maintain their good health, opportunities to take breaks when they need to, the flexibility to take care of necessary business outside of work, and time and money to pursue their interests outside of the workplace. And when your company is widely-known for providing this kind of support for your people—more people will want to work for you.

That means you have more opportunities to find the right people that fit your needs—and your culture. Building an awesome culture full of people who are great to work with is another way to attract and maintain more great people to work with—and that’s a benefit in and of itself. Take care of your people, and your people will take care of you.

Bottom line  

At this point, the positives of great benefits in the workplace should make the decision to provide them a no-brainer. The frivolous extras many companies focus on should be just that—extras. Don’t sacrifice what really counts in an effort to look “hip” and “fun” to current job-seekers. What used to seem forward-thinking and desirable has now made candidates wary about the real day-to-day working conditions once the job begins.

Focus on building a stack of real long-term benefits like retirement planning, health care coverage, and the flexibility to work when and how they want—and you’ll have a healthy pool of high-quality candidates to choose from when you’ve got a role to fill. And more quality candidates means more great people you get to work with every day. Real benefits that show employees you’re conscious of their needs as a human being—not just an employee—are the kind of benefits that keep great people around for years to come. It’s never the wrong time to review your benefits package to see where you can improve—the effort will pay you back tenfold.

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