Employees high fiving
Finding out which benefits matter most to candidates and finding ways to offer them will help attract and keep skilled talent. — Getty Images

If your company is growing and you want to hire the right talent to help it keep growing, you need to consider more than just what you can afford to pay these employees. Particularly if you’re not able to compete with the salaries offered by larger companies, you’ll want to offer other perks, including benefits packages, that are attractive to potential employees.

Benefits do come at some cost to your business. The good news, though, is that those benefits can save you money in the long term if they also help your employees stay happy and healthy. So even if you’ve only just hired your first employee, it’s a good time to assess benefit options and costs.

The truth is, it might take a bit of research and assessment of your company culture to select the right benefits to offer. Today’s companies provide a wide variety of perks, some of which have big price tags while others are free. Understanding the available options and which of them fit the type of culture you’re creating will help you determine what to offer, how and when.

Get to know the basics of benefits

To assess what benefits you can and should offer, you’ll need to understand some basics of what’s required by law, what’s common in the marketplace and what’s expected by today’s potential employees.

Here are four steps to start with:

  1. Become familiar with state and federal requirements regarding the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), workers’ compensation, overtime, disability, minimum wage and unemployment benefits. (Tip: If your company is growing, be sure to understand the benefit requirements that kick in when you hire your 50th employee.)
  2. Check out the most commonly offered benefits to understand what potential and existing employees may be expecting of you. These offerings include health insurance, dental insurance, paid time off (e.g., vacation and sick leave), paid holidays and tuition assistance.
  3. Identify what’s trending to enable you to offer benefits that can differentiate your business from your competition.
  4. Assess if it’s time to start offering benefits to ensure you’re keeping current employees happy and attracting the right talent to your company.

[Read: Employee Benefits 101: What to Offer and How to Decide]

Understand which benefits matter

To keep benefit costs affordable and your employees happy, it’s smart to review the benefits you currently offer and other options you could be offering. Your approach to benefits should reflect your culture and communicate your priorities to current and potential employees. Today’s businesses are increasingly creative with their benefits offerings and you can be too.

Use these steps to help you assess what matters to your business and your employees:

  • Survey your employees to find out what benefits matter to them.
  • Offer customization of benefits and a self-selection approach to accommodate the variety of needs that today’s multi-generation workforce has.
  • Assess the ROI to ensure you’re offering benefits that still fit your company size, your employees’ needs and the trends in today’s marketplace.

[Read: Tailor-Made Benefits: Keeping Employees Happy Means Customizing Benefits]

You may not be able to offer all of the benefits that a large corporation can, but you can learn what benefits are trending these days and select the ones that set you apart and make you an ideal choice for job candidates.

Align with what’s trending

You may not be able to offer all of the benefits that a large corporation can, but you can learn what benefits are trending these days and select the ones that set you apart and make you an ideal choice for job candidates.

Here are a few to consider:

  • Student debt and retirement savings assistance to help employees overcome financial hurdles.
  • Job flexibility that allows for customizable work schedules and remote working.
  • Valuable training that helps employees grow in their career.

[Read: 3 Things You Need to Know About Employee Benefits in 2019]

Turn millennials into happy company advocates

Millennials make up more than one third of the workforce and are generally very communicative on social media. They also like to network and integrate work into the rest of their life. Ensuring that you offer the millennials in your company benefits that make them happy may also help you build a reputation that attracts other talented professionals to your business.

Another bonus to considering the perspective of millennials when it comes to benefits is that there are perks they may appreciate in lieu of a big salary. Incorporate these things into your benefits and you may have the hook to get (and keep) the right millennials on your team.

Here are a few things that matter to the 23-to-38-year-old crowd:

  • Wellness programs, including discounts to gyms and access to nutritionists via telemedicine portals.
  • Student loan assistance.
  • Ways to earn recognition for work achievements.
  • Opportunities to integrate work with their lives through social activities and sports.

[Read: The Millennial Mindset: Employee Benefits for the Workforce’s Largest Generation]

Count the cost

Benefits can cost your company thousands of dollars per employee every year. Assessing which ones are the right fit for you will, of course, include an evaluation of the costs. Several variables impact this, such as the number of employees you have and where you’re located. However, you can get a good sense of the cost range for some of the common benefits.

Here’s a sampling:

  • Medical insurance: The average cost of group medical for individual coverage is $500 per month and upwards of $1,500 per month for family coverage.
  • Dental insurance: Monthly dental insurance premiums can range from $20 to $50 per employee.
  • Retirement savings plans: In addition to any matching contributions you offer, as the employer, you’d generally be expected to cover set-up costs as well as maintenance fees, which together can range from $1,000 to $3,000 per year.
  • Employee assistance programs (EAP) and life insurance: Both benefits have monthly fees that can start at $10 or $20 per employee and go up from there.
  • Paid time off (including holiday pay): There should be virtually no associated cost with this benefit.
  • Many other perks: As mentioned, there are many benefits you can offer, such as recognition, social events, flexible work options and trainings that will result in minimal, if any costs, to your company.

[Read: The Best Employee Benefits for Keeping Workers Happy]

Once you understand what’s best for you and your employees, you can take the steps to implement benefits that can help you gain and retain employees. Subsequently, happy and healthy employees will likely be more motivated to stick around and help you grow your business.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published February 14, 2020