Small business owners face plenty of difficult decisions, but questions about benefits can be some of the most challenging. With a lot of employees benefits are a key consideration during the job search. Small businesses can't afford to skimp on the perks they offer to keep top talent.
Not all benefits, however, are created equally — most employees would rather have an increase in vacation days than a new fleet of ping pong tables in the office. Creating an optimal benefits package while staying in budget requires you to prioritize some benefits over others.
While there is no benefits package that will work the same for every business, there are still some perks that should be taken more seriously than others. Every business leader needs to take stock of their workforce and prospective employees in order to get the best possible sense of what their workers want and need. In the meantime, this list of some of the most important office benefits can help guide you on the path to choosing the right plan for your business:
1. Health insurance
Across the board, people are most concerned about the kind of health insurance they'll be getting on the job. According to a study published in Harvard Business Review, almost 90% put consideration into their healthcare plans before accepting a job offer — the most seriously considered of all workplace benefits.
This makes health insurance an important investment for all businesses, particularly ones whose employees are caring for large numbers of dependents. While some companies might decide that this is all just too expensive for them, the costs in lost talent or productivity that come from not offering health insurance can be far costlier.
Thankfully, there are options for companies hoping to cut costs without skimping on coverage. Government-backed marketplaces like SHOP offer subsidized and price-competitive healthcare options for small businesses and companies can try selecting plans that work particularly well for their workforce. If your company is staffed by mostly young workers, for example, you could look for plans that have lower premiums at the expense of higher deductibles.
2. Retirement funds
Retirement accounts are in high demand — especially among more mature, highly-skilled workers. By helping your employees plan for their future, you can ensure that you’re getting their best work from them in the present.
While smaller or newer companies may opt for IRAs — individual retirement accounts — the low caps these accounts have on contributions make them far less desirable than their more expensive counterparts: 401(k)s. 401(k)s are the most popular retirement accounts among employees, but they can also cost businesses in terms of administration costs. If you want to offer a small business 401(k), look for an option with low fees for both you and your employees.
Companies looking to attract top-tier workers need to take a hard look at adopting 401(k) retirement plans, but they should be fully equipped to take on the challenge of making those plans work for their employees.
3. Paid time off
While this benefit might seem like one of the simplest, it actually is just as complex as all of the others. Paid time off (PTO) doesn't just mean vacation days — it's an enumeration of when and how often an employee can be absent from work, for any reason. As a business leader, you need to figure out exactly what policy you're going to take on a number of PTO-related questions.
Only around 13% of American workers have access to paid parental leave, but 94% of businesses offer bereavement leave for employees who have recently lost loved ones — what do your business's policies on these issues look like? Workers are naturally going to be attracted to businesses that offer generous leave programs, but proper administration of these programs is key. Unlimited leave, for example, can work well for some employees while others might feel pressured to stay on as often as possible.
4. Flexible work options
We are currently in the middle of a work revolution, with more employees than ever working remotely for part or all of their job. Telecommuting can increase productivity some many cases, and it allows people like working mothers to maintain a healthy career while cutting down on care-related expenses. Younger workers may also appreciate flexible work options that allow them to travel without taking too much time off.
When done right, flexible work can also significantly reduce operating costs for businesses. If you put your workforce on a telecommuting schedule, that can allow you to reduce your office size and thus slash costs in the process. The right flexible work policy is one of the few worker benefits that can greatly increase employee satisfaction and value without incurring onerous expenses for the business itself. Also, encourage your employees to use technology like "speedy meetings" through google calendar to shorten up their meetings by 15 minutes to allow breaks in their schedule. That way they have times to relax in between a busy day of meetings.
5. Education assistance
It's fairly common for businesses to offer some kind of tuition assistance to their employees, and it's not hard to see why. Not only do tuition assistance programs attract high-level talent to your company, but it also allows your current workers to gain new skills and perspectives that will help them out on the job.
With so many businesses offering traditional tuition assistance, however, using it as a selling point can be difficult. In order to stand out and benefit their workers, companies are increasingly looking towards options for forgiving their workers' student debt in part or in full. By ensuring debt forgiveness for veteran employees, businesses can attract workers to stick it out with them for the longer term.
6. Optimized office space
One of the most terminally undervalued employee benefits is simply having a good office. Workers can spend over 40 hours a week in their offices, so making design decisions that promote well-being can have lasting impacts. Implementing quality-of-life improvements like additional greenery, air quality control, and standing desks can help boost productivity.
While flexible work policies are high on lots of employees' wish lists, the office is still the center of business activity in 2020. Creating an office that focuses on comfort and livability over trendy gimmicks will ensure that workers always have a venue in which they know that can produce their best work.
7. Other types of insurance
As important as health insurance is for workers, it is far from the only kind of insurance people want. While other common policies include eye or dental, plenty of businesses also offer options for life or disability insurance as well. Nearly 60% of employees would purchase life insurance if their employers offered it, so finding additional insurance plans can fill a real desire among your workers.
While health insurance is an absolute must for workers, some of the less common insurance policies should be geared more towards increasing morale and getting employees to sign on for the long term.
Deciding on the right set of benefits for a company is never easy, but putting the needs and wants of your workers first is almost always a path to success. By finding a healthy balance between the wellbeing of your workers and of your balance sheet, you can create the perfect benefits package for your small business.