If you want to attract and retain top talent at your company, you need to think like a startup.

However, you don’t have to be Google, Facebook or a Silicon Valley tech startup to offer attractive and creative benefits to your employees.

Any company can transform into an employee-centric company by following these simple steps. Here’s what you need to know to reshape your employee benefits program, embrace the future of work and win the war on talent:

The Old Guard: Traditional Employee Benefits

While employee benefits vary by company, many employers may offer some form of the following annual benefits:

  • health insurance
  • 401k / pension plan
  • two to four weeks vacation
  • transportation benefits
  • employee discounts

There’s nothing inherently wrong with these types of benefits. However, in today’s competitive career marketplace, the quality of your benefits package matter to both prospective and current employees.

It may be time to revisit your employee benefits program—here’s how to make the transformation.

Step #1: What kind of company do you want to be?

Start with some self-reflection. Ask yourself: what kind of company do you want to be? How do you treat employees? How do your employees feel about working at your company?

How would your employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders describe your brand? Do your employee benefits reflect the strength of your brand? These are important foundational questions to assess the current status of your employee benefits plan.

Then, reflect on your current employee benefit offering, and determine whether those benefits reflect the brand and image you want to present.

Step #2: Ask your employees what kind of company you should be

Your employees are the lifeblood of your company—embrace feedback and incorporate their thinking into your game plan. They are on the field fighting the good fight every day, and they have unique insights that management may not have.

Ask your employees how they feel about your current employee benefits package, and gather feedback about the types of benefits your employees would like to be included.

Step #3: Find the benefits that help both employees and the company

Adding new employee benefits is not only a win for employees but for employers, too.

The war for talent is fierce. Not only do you need to attract top talent, but also you need to retain and motivate your organization for the long term. From the employer’s perspective, if you can’t retain talent for the long-term, that means high employee turnover.

High employee turnover hurts moral and can cost the company time and money to hire and train new employees.

However, having the right employee benefits can create loyalty among your employees, which can lead to increased satisfaction, productivity and results. Employees are happy. Management is happy. Shareholders are happy.

The New Employee Benefits

The new crop of employee benefits range by industry and company, but here are some employee benefits that are offered at companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies:

1. Unlimited Vacation

Wait, what? For the curious, no, you can’t take off 364 days each year.

The notion of unlimited vacation removes the notion of vacation constriction and empowers employees to decide how much vacation they take.

By placing the decision with the employee, the company has provided the employee with important decision-making authority. That relationship creates an important bond.

The reality is that if you hire the right employees, they should be responsible and judicious. Therefore, you can expect that most, if not all, employees won’t abuse the vacation policy.

2. Free food

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit Google’s Mountain View, California campus, you’ll bear witness to a mecca of cafeterias with every type of food imaginable. And it’s all free.

It’s not rocket science: people like free food. If employees don’t have to pay for lunch, employees appreciate it. Free food can breed employee appreciation and loyalty. Plus, they will spread the good word, and tell their friends and family.

However, not every company has the resources or space for multiple free food options. So, start more simply.

Offer free breakfast once a week or institute a weekly “lunch and learn” in which you offer free lunch and invite a guest speaker to teach your employees something new.

3. Student loan repayment assistance

Student loan repayment assistance is the hottest employee benefit of 2017 – and one of the best ways to attract Millennials and recent graduates to join your company.

According to Make Lemonade, there are over 44 million borrowers who collectively owe more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt.

In the 2015 American Student Assistance survey, 76% of respondents said that if a prospective employer offered a student loan repayment benefit, it would be a deciding or contributing factor to accept the job.

While less than 5% of companies currently offer such a benefit, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, and employees are typically responsible for income taxes on the assistance received, expect this percentage to increase in coming years.

Companies such as PricewatershouseCoopers (PwC), Aetna and Penguin Random House are some of the trailblazing companies that offer student loan repayment benefits for their employees.

4. Flex time

Everyone needs flex time, whether for a medical appointment or to take a child to school. Employers who recognize and embrace flex time win in the end.

There are many ways to offer flex time at your company. One option is to allow employees to telecommute, or work from home, at least on occasion.

Yes, it is important for teams to meet face-to-face, and working together in the office helps achieve this goal. However, when employees have the flexibility to work from home, they feel valued and trusted. When employees feel valued and trusted, they are more loyal to the organization.

And that’s good business.


This article was written by Zack Friedman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The views of the author of this article do not necessarily represent the views of Gradifi. This article is not intended to constitute tax, financial or legal advice. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained here. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax or financial advisors to understand the tax, financial and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this article.