How Small Businesses Can Create Competitive Employee Benefits
Recruiting battles often leave small organizations feeling like they showed up bare-knuckled to a tank fight. And since hiring top talent can make or break a small organization’s ability to succeed, winning the recruiting battle is vital. One of the largest factors candidates consider when accepting a job offer is total compensation, of which benefits should be a large part. Below are some benefit ideas to help small businesses create valuable benefits packages that cover all five Total Wellness Dimensions.
Benefits that help employees stay socially and emotionally healthy are ones that help them maintain relationships and feel supported and cared for. And, because they have a smaller group to support, small businesses have a unique ability to provide social and emotional health benefits:
· Great relationships: You’ve likely heard the idiom: “Employees quit bosses, not jobs.” Well, many studies prove that it’s true, and not just with bosses. Employees often leave jobs because they don’t have positive relationships with coworkers. Small companies can encourage close, supportive relationships among all employees.
· Flexibility: Part of social and emotional health is the ability to maintain meaningful relationships outside of the office, too. While employees of larger companies may be required to work 50 hours a week on a regular basis, smaller companies can set themselves apart by sticking to 40 hours a week. Flexibility in work hours and location is also a valuable (and essentially free) benefit small companies can provide employees.
· Culture: Having a supportive and defined environment and culture is a huge selling-point—especially for employees who are looking to leave a toxic situation. The first step is for small companies to define their ideal culture, and then to implement and maintain it (which is easier with a smaller workforce).
A recent survey found that 90 percent of employees are stressed about finances and that stress impacts them at work. While it’s definitely inappropriate to require them to discuss finances with you, small businesses can provide employees benefits that help with finances.
· 401k: Whether they provide a match or just pay the administration fees, providing a 401k or another retirement account is a great option for small businesses. It helps all employees (founders and CEOs, too) prepare for retirement. Plus, organizations with under 100 employees who provide a 401k get a tax benefit in the U.S.
· Financial education: One of our favorite financial benefits that we’ve had since the time we were small is our Financial Peace University (FPU) benefit. The FPU class teaches employees how to get out of debt and build wealth, and when employees complete the class, they receive a $100 cash bonus.
· Financial advisors: If you decide to provide a 401k, check with the investment firm you pay to administer those accounts. They likely have financial advisors on-hand, and those financial advisors should be willing to consult with employees. We also bring our financial advisors in a couple of times a year for lunch-and-learns with employees.
Health plans are expensive, and most small businesses (under 50 employees in the U.S.) don’t have to provide them to employees. However, they can provide:
· Healthcare Reimbursement Plans and Accounts: In the U.S. there are specific rules for these accounts, but small businesses who aren’t mandated to provide health insurance can reimburse for healthcare expenses. This can be an especially attractive benefit for employees who are covered by a partner or parent’s plan, and can soften the blow of having to pay out-of-pocket for employees who aren’t.
· Gym reimbursement: Small businesses can offer to reimburse employees up to a certain amount for their gym fees, so this benefit can end up being as affordable as you need it to be. Plus, employees who get regular exercise are more productive.
Small businesses can rally support from the community by giving support back to the community. Also, giving back to the community is something Millennials (aka the generation that will likely make up a majority of your workforce) care deeply about in an employer.
· Team volunteering: Giving service together is a great team-building activity. There are plenty of options from walking dogs, to blood drives. Once per year, our team fundraisers together and then works as a team with Feed My Starving Children to pack meals to send to hungry children throughout the world. The options are endless.
· Paid day of service: Some small businesses can’t afford to have a large portion of the office out on any given day. Giving employees a paid day off once per year for volunteering is also a great way to make the benefit flexible so each employee can give back to a cause that’s meaningful to them.
Most employees have goals and ambitions. Small businesses can provide opportunities for those employees to reach their goals.
· Succession planning: Small businesses that are planning to grow rapidly can offer talented employees growth opportunities that fit the organization’s growing needs. So, an office manager might grow into the role of HR or marketing manager (if he or she desires those roles) as those needs increase. What small businesses can uniquely do is work with employees to figure out what they’d like to do and then help them reach that goal internally.
· Training and Development: Even small businesses that aren’t planning to expand can offer employees training and development they won’t be able to get at a larger organization. For instance, a small business might hire an inexperienced web developer to create and maintain their website, while at a larger organization they might be stuck fixing coding errors. While that developer will likely move on eventually, the experience he or she gained by single-handedly creating and maintaining a website is a benefit because of the learning opportunity.