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Workplace Trends • Gradifi

How Small Businesses Can Create the Best Benefits Package to Attract Top Talent

By Dawn Papandrea | 2-min read

Attracting and retaining top talent is one of the key building blocks of any successful business. And if you want to stand out from the pack when it comes to recruiting, creating a robust benefits package must be a major component of your overall strategy. Consider the following: A 2015 Glassdoor survey found that four out of five employees want benefits or perks more than a pay raise.

This is an especially important (and difficult) challenge for small business owners, who are tasked with the mission of keeping employees engaged and happy with a smaller benefits budget than their corporate counterparts. To many small businesses, the above no doubt sounds easier said than done. The truth is, however, you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to offer the sort of great benefits that will catch the eye of smart, competent potential employees—especially if you’re willing to employ a bit of creativity and do a little homework.

Ready to craft a benefits package of consequence?

Here’s where to begin:

1. Determine what will resonate with your employees. First, begin the process with an open mind. Don’t make assumptions. Send out a survey or hold meetings to hear directly from your staffers about their career aspirations, personal needs and what they envision the ideal benefits package to look like in both the short- and long-term. Are they saddled with student loan debt, and therefore unable to realistically tackle retirement savings? Would they appreciate flex-time? Have they come to expect workplace amenities and wellness programs? Be sure to provide detailed questions when polling so that you capture a diverse range of employees’ views not limited to a single age or lifestyle bracket.

2. Consider your budget. According to research, benefits add as much as 30 to 40 percent to base pay for most employees—so you’ll need to be selective when choosing your benefits, weighing ROI, adoption and impact against your benefits budget. If you can’t offer everything you’d like—and, really, what small business owner can?—settle upon a key item or two that can serve as a differentiator. Practice the art of the possible and work to figure out how you can do the most good for your employees with the resources available. 

3. Look for flexibility and scale. Whichever type of program you choose to implement, it is wise to give yourself the flexibility to offer different benefit levels as your business grows. For instance, you might determine that new employees are granted a basic benefit level, and then, after a certain number of years, graduate to a higher level. This both provides an incentive for employees to stay on board and presents a clear indicator that loyalty is rewarded at your company.

4. Think about the timeframe for ROI. While many types of benefits can be valuable for employees, focus on those that have the potential to create the greatest short-term impact for your small business. For example, if you’re headed into a recruitment cycle, you might shift toward benefits that are shown to attract more talent. By prioritizing benefits that provide more immediate impact—say, alleviating financial burdens—employees won’t have to wait decades to reap the rewards they’ve earned.

5. Know your competition. What does the standard benefits package in your industry look like? Do some research on employer review websites to see what employees love about where they work—and what they feel is lacking. Then, brainstorm achievable ways to fill in those market gaps and make a more appealing offer. A cutting-edge benefit offering is not about spending the most money, but, rather, creating the most positive impact in the lives of your employees.

Tap into what matters most to today’s employees and incorporate it into your benefits package, and your staffers will feel appreciated, understood and motivated to do great work for you for years to come.