19 Employee Benefits That Are Actually Worth the Investment for Employers

March 15, 2024
Best Employee Benefits to Offer as a Small Business Owner

Nontraditional, creative employee benefits used to be a perk that helped attract and retain some of the most competitive talent in the job market. Today, it's seen as a necessity. In 2022, 50.5 million Americans left their jobs, the highest mass resignation on record to date. These individuals didn't leave the job market completely. Rather, they left their role in search of other options with a better work-life balance, higher pay and or stronger employee benefits. Unfortunately, as a small business owner, competing with Fortune 500 companies can be difficult. To help create a competitive package that attracts top talent, here's how to create a benefits program that may work for you and your team.

What Are Employee Benefits?

Employee benefits refer to what you give your employees in addition to their salary or hourly wage. They're factors indirectly paid out to your team that can provide unique advantages to eligible employees. Creating an employee benefits package often depends on your company size and finances, along with the unique needs of your team. While some benefits and perks are required in businesses of certain sizes, many nontraditional options aren't.

The Importance of Offering Employee Benefits

Offering benefits has several impacts on your organization. According to a recent survey, 84% of organizations believe that a strong benefits package can help attract and retain top talent.2 Top talent can help propel your business goals. At the same time, employee retention saves you time and money. 83% also believe that good benefits help increase employee engagement and productivity.3 These, in turn, can boost employee satisfaction and make for a stronger collective workforce. Although it's important to understand each benefit's return on investment, offering more than the bare minimum has distinct advantages for employees and employers.

19 Worthwhile Benefits for Employees

So, what types of employee benefits should employers offer? Consider some small business employee benefits that are well worth the investment.

1. Health Insurance Plans

79% of employees believe health insurance is a must-have benefit for any job.4 Although it's a mandatory benefit for employers with 50 or more full-time employees, some small businesses fall below the threshold. Medical debt can be debilitating, so a strong health insurance package is one of the best benefits to attract and retain employees.

2. 401(k) Plans and Retirement Plans

Saving for retirement is more challenging than it used to be. 55% of American workers feel behind with retirement savings, while about 25% said they haven't made any contributions in at least a year.4 Benefits that include retirement savings plans can help employees save for retirement without causing strain on their outside finances. While several options let employees grow their savings, retirement plans are one of the benefits that can have the biggest impact on employee productivity and retention.

3. Life Insurance Plans

Life insurance plans create financial security for your employee's beneficiary if they were to pass away. This can be an attractive benefit for individuals with families.

4. Workers' Compensation

Workers' compensation (WC) is a mandatory benefit employers must provide. If an employee is injured at work and there is no WC coverage, you potentially could be caught in an expensive lawsuit. WC is worth the extra financial security for both you and your employees.

5. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs)

Health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible savings accounts (FSAs) give employees a tax-free way to cover eligible medical bills or prescriptions. FSAs are sponsored by employers, and can help reduce payroll tax on employee contributions. HSAs are only available to individuals enrolled in a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and are funded by employees, employers or both.

6. Identity Theft Protection

Cyberattacks and security breaches are becoming more regular. Identity theft protection is one of the employee benefits that can help protect your workforce's personal data. Since dealing with identity theft can take up to 200 hours,6 protection can also keep productivity levels high.

7. Financial Wellness Services

In reality, most employees feel stressed about finances, regardless of their salaries. With the increasing cost of living, emergency funds are being depleted, and it can be difficult to face unpredictable expenses. Offering financial wellness services like financial planning tool, payroll services, credit monitoring programs or easy-to-access apps can help employees with their financial well-being.

8. Student Loan Repayment and Tuition Assistance

Another financial benefit that is becoming increasingly popular is student loan assistance. This could include helping pay off current debts or as a way to incentivize employees to finish their degrees by covering future tuition costs.

9. Health and Wellness Programs

Employee benefits can help support mental and physical health as well. Benefits like discounted gym memberships or remote exercise classes can attract employees who want to prioritize their health. You could also offer discounts on products and services related to health and wellness or host quarterly challenges to implement these employee benefits. Wellness programs can help improve morale and create a more engaging workplace, so it's an employee perk that could have a good ROI for SMBs.

10. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

Benefits are available to provide counseling and support through employee assistance programs (EAPs). EAPs can be used to discuss work-related difficulties in a safe, confidential space. They help support your team in several regards, which can help with conflict resolution, productivity and overall employee satisfaction.

11. Professional Development

Another worthwhile component of employee benefits is investing in your team's professional development. Whether through online training, professional courses or lunch-and-learns depends on your budget and employee value proposition. Consider asking your team which products or services they'd like to use for professional enhancement to find the best options for your company.

12. Peer Recognition

Although there may be better benefits for some employees, a recognition program can help boost morale and productivity. Examples of employee benefits through peer recognition include company-wide recognition program, awards ceremonies or even additional time off days.

13. Flexible Work Options

Allowing employees to work from home became extremely popular during the pandemic, and many individuals still strive for that flexibility within their roles. While some organizations think working from home decreases productivity, several studies found the opposite. Flexible work options can have several mental health benefits and improve employee morale.

14. Paid Time Off

Paid time off is a fringe benefit that most people expect when starting a new job, but the US offers an average of only 11 days per year. Often, employees take less than this out of fear of falling behind, resulting in burnout and lost productivity. Creating a time off policy with the opportunity to take extra based on work performance or tenure can make your benefits package more attractive.

15. Volunteer Time Off

Volunteering is a great company benefit that can help create connections in the community and enhance mental health, but many people don't have the time to give back after working 40+ hours a week. That's why some companies offer their workforce time off that can be used specifically to volunteer.

16. Family Perks

Another thing to consider is extending certain benefits you offer to family members. This can include creating a stronger parental leave package or even offering and contributing to health insurance coverage to spouses or children. Making benefits available to family members can be a big investment, so weighing this option against your budget is important.

17. Onsite Childcare

Another option for family perks is offering onsite childcare or reimbursement for off-site care. If your employee works full-time with a working spouse and a young child, outside care is about $15,000 annually on average.7 Onsite childcare would, therefore, be a benefit that several employees value as it can help the employees manage costs while reducing commute to and from a daycare center.

18. A Strong Office Culture

Company culture may seem like an afterthought, but if you create a strong one, it may be seen as an employee benefit to new hires or prospects. Consider how you want to be seen and work on building up your culture slowly. It won't happen overnight, but if you create a place where people want to work, you'll improve engagement, retention, acquisition and more.

19. Free Snacks and Drinks

Finally, consider having free office snacks and drinks available to your team can go a long way. Offer a mix of healthy snacks and essentials, a coffee or espresso machine and some healthy drink options to give your employees nourishment throughout the day.

Running a small business takes a lot of work, but that doesn't mean you have to do it alone. For access to a team of HR experts and countless features that complement your SMB, work with TriNet. As a PEO, TriNet offers SMBs access to traditional healthcare and insurance benefits alongside a variety of non-traditional benefits that don’t break the bank. Learn more about how TriNet can help today.

© 2024 TriNet Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This communication is for informational purposes only, is not legal, tax or accounting advice, and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance. TriNet is the single-employer sponsor of all its benefit plans, which does not include voluntary benefits that are not ERISA-covered group health insurance plans and enrollment is voluntary. Official plan documents always control and TriNet reserves the right to amend the benefit plans or change the offerings and deadlines.

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