Businesses often struggle to attract and retain talented workers, particularly as they compete against larger companies that can often afford to give their workers competitive salaries and comprehensive traditional benefits. But offering unique or non-traditional employee benefits – flexible scheduling, financial wellness solutions, student loan assistance, or an unlimited paid time off policy, for instance – can often be just as competitive.
These types of non-traditional benefits can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction, as well as your company's ability to recruit and retain workers. A recent Paychex Pulse of HR survey found that companies with 50 to 500 employees most commonly offer non-traditional benefits such as:
- Flexible scheduling (46 percent)
- Free meals on a regular basis (26 percent)
- Financial counseling/advice (24 percent)
- Discounts to local events (23 percent)
- Telecommuting (20 percent)
The Case for Unique Benefits
Non-traditional benefits can help companies boost employee morale, increase retention, and attract workers, even though workers still often expect more traditional benefits such as a retirement plan and health insurance. Small businesses are often better positioned to offer unique benefits because they are providing them across a much smaller organization and are better able to customize their unique benefits to the preferences of their employees.
Another consideration: the affordability of many non-traditional benefits. It may not cost you much to give your employees some flexibility in their work scheduling or to provide free lunch once a month. But employees may view those benefits as a major plus for working for you, which can go a long way in keeping them at your organization.
Which Unique Benefits Make Sense?
You don't have to offer every available non-traditional benefit to your employees. Focus on the unique employee benefits that align with your business strategy and your employees' lifestyles and preferences. If you're unsure, you can survey your employees to determine which types of benefits they would value most.
Keep in mind that certain types of non-traditional benefits may serve your business goals more than others. Offering employees a sabbatical such as four extra weeks of time off for every five years they work for the company can incentivize them to stay long-term. A perk such as an occasional free meal, on the other hand, probably won't singlehandedly boost retention, but it can certainly help in the short-term.
Companies that think outside the box about their benefits program and design one that aligns with their business strategy are best positioned to recruit and retain talented employees in today's competitive job market. For example, offering student loan assistance can help a company attract and retain younger college-educated talent burdened with the student debt crisis. Now is a good time to look at your benefits program and consider whether you can add more non-traditional benefits to help you recruit and retain the best employees.