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Employee Benefits that Top Companies Value Most

By Megan Webb-Morgan
Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If you are interested in expanding your employee benefits, consider these best practices to ensure that you attract the best talent and...

Providing the highest salary in the market can't ensure that your business attracts the top talent in your industry.

Many of the highest-rated businesses have found that the key to finding and keeping good employees lies in offering prospective employees the benefits that they want the most.

Providing generous benefits packages improves employee retention rates and keeps your employees happy, healthy, and loyal.

Related: Provide employee benefits through one of  our payroll services providers

Paid Time Off

The U.S., on average, offers the lowest number of holidays and sick days of nearly every industrialized nation. The EU mandates that workers receive at least 20 days of paid leave per year, while the average American worker takes only 12 (Time). (Tweet this stat!)

However, some US companies have placed greater emphasis on paid leave, to positive effects.

  • The software company SAS provides their employees with a paid vacation of up to four weeks, unlimited sick days, 11 paid holidays, and flexible scheduling. Small wonder that they've been named a top place to work by Forbes, Fortune Magazine, and many others.
  • Recreational Equipment (REI) provides employees with a 4 week paid sabbatical after 15 years of service, after which they can take another sabbatical every five years.

Related:Forget High Salaries: 6 Benefits Millennials Want Now

Family Time

The Family and Medical Leave Act enables eligible employees to take 12 workweeks of leave per 12-month period in order to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, or seriously ill family member. This leave is unpaid, but some companies  offer a better alternative for their employees.

  • Beyond offering perks like free meals for employees, Facebook provides four months of paid parental leave for their employees -- but it doesn't stop there. They also provide a $4,000 grant for new parents, as well as reimbursement for daycare and adoption fees.
  • Southwest Airlines offers new adoptive parents 12 weeks of paid leave.

Health & Wellness

Changes in health care law has made insurance more accessible to millions of Americans, but many more are dependent on their employers for assistance with health benefits. Starbucks and Trader Joe's lead the way in providing full health benefits to not only full-time, but to their part-time employees as well. Employees who work at least 20 hours per week receive full health insurance.

  • Wegmans Food Markets, based in Rochester, NY, has enrolled nearly 2,000 employees in a free smoking-cessation program, and recently  opened a 24/7 health hotline. They also pay 85% of health care costs for their 16,000 full-time employees (HR Works Inc).

Related: 56% of Employees Say Benefits Extremely Influential on Productivity


Many companies encourage their employees to save for retirement by offering a 401(k) savings plan and matching a percentage of employee contributions. US employers, on average, matched 3.95% of employee contributions in 2011, but some went much farther (Forbes). (Tweet this stat!)

  • Southwest Airlines offers a retirement plan for its pilots that matches 100% of employee contributions up to 9.3% of their income. Southwest contributes roughly $16,500 per participant annually -- a total of $94 million company-wide.
  • It's a good time to work for the airline industry. United Airlines contributes to each pilot's 401(k) account 100% of the first 16% of eligible earnings -- whether or not the employee makes their own contribution. On average, United contributes $20,000 per employee annually.

In addition to the many benefits outlined above, many companies offer additional perks like tuition reimbursement, travel grants, scholarship programs, and employee discounts. REI employees receive a 50-75% discount on apparel, free equipment rental, and an annual gift of gear. Starbucks employees receive free while on shift and a pound of coffee to take home each week. If you are interested in expanding your employee benefits, consider these best practices to ensure that you attract the best talent and earn their loyalty.

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