Summer has finally arrived. Job hunting season has officially begun.
Warm, relaxing months are when most people set new goals and strive for personal and professional growth. So for some companies, this means that applications are coming in hot. For others, none may come in at all.
What’s the secret to attracting that top talent in the first place, and how can companies keep those employees around once they’re hired?
How to attract and retain top talent
Searching for that perfect match takes time. Recruiters spend weeks scouring job posting sites for the best potential candidates. They may even need the help of recruiting software to manage the amount of applicants.
Once they’re found, hiring and training those candidates becomes expensive, too. The employee onboarding process is different in every company, but it’s always a little tedious.
The current hiring market is more competitive than ever, so how do companies attract and retain top talent?
Benefits packages are magnetizing
A generous benefits package is the key to entice potential candidates. Four out of five employees prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase. With millennials, benefits are favored even more highly, with 89% of 18-34 year olds and 84% of 35-44 year olds preferring perks over pay raises.
The good news is you don’t need to break the bank to offer your employees the benefits that they want. After health insurance, employees favor benefits that are relatively low-cost to employers, such as more flexible hours, the option to work from home, and more paid vacation time.
Additionally, it was found that the right combination of benefits can win over talented job seekers, even when they are faced with a competing company offering them a higher salary.
Graphic courtesy of Fractl
Although health insurance is the most expensive benefit to provide employees with, it is consistently the priority during job searches.
Therefore, health insurance should be the priority of the company to offer a reasonable plan in order to retain top talent. In fact, a solid and reasonable employer health insurance policy is so necessary to the average employee that it is not unheard of to turn down a good job exclusively due to lack of health care.
Additional attractive perks to provide for employees
Health care isn’t the only attractive benefit that employers can offer. Below are a few other types of employee benefits that every job seeker likes to see in the job description.
1. Work-life balance and flexibility
The next-most valued benefits behind health insurance are those that improve the work-life balance of employees. The majority of respondents reported that flexible hours and location, additional vacation time, and work-from-home options give a lower paying job priority over a higher paying job with fewer benefit options.
Additionally, both flexible hours and working from home arrangements are affordable perks for companies. Out of over 3,100 professionals, only 7% say that they feel the most productive in the office. More than half of the respondents said that working from home is preferred, as there are less distractions, less stress, and it’s generally a more comfortable environment. If that data isn’t enough for you to tack work from home days onto your employee benefits package, 33% of respondents have left a job because it did not have flexible work hours.
2. Paid vacation time increase
Paid time off has the potential to be a complicated expense, since it’s not just the cost of an employee’s salary for the days they are out. American workers are notoriously bad at using up their vacation time. Americans leave $224 billion dollars in unused vacation time on the table, which creates a huge liability for employers because they often have to pay out this unused vacation time when employees leave the company.
To subdue this potential liability headache, in lieu of actively encouraging employees to take vacations, many companies are offering an unlimited PTO policy. Unlimited time-off policies are all the rage right now for employers, and not just for how it solves the liability issue, but also for the message it sends about company culture. When employees are respected as individuals who can be trusted with full agency over managing their workloads, office camaraderie only benefits.
3. Training and education reimbursement
Student loan repayment and tuition assistance benefits are what nudge just below half of Fractl respondents to take a lower paying job over a higher paying job with no student loan or tuition assistance. Student loan repayment is the most coveted employee benefit right now. This makes perfect sense when you consider there are currently more than 44 million alumni who collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loans. With student debt crippling such a large percentage of millennials in the national workforce, it comes as no surprise that they are prioritizing student loan assistance. To attract and retain top talent, especially those newly minted graduates, it is wise to incorporate student loan assistance as an employee benefit.
4. Remote-specific benefits
Remote employees save companies an average of $10,000 per year on real estate alone. Plus, remote workers are absent from work 60% less than in-office employees, an expense which costs companies $1 trillion per year. Use that extra budget to offer remote employees perks like a decked-out home office, a health and wellness stipend for gym memberships or food subscriptions, or a travel budget to spend time with onsite employees.
Consider the following perks for remote employees to help attract talented individuals from around the world:
WiFi and phone budget
Office decorating stipend
Coworking space memberships
Technology and equipment
Training and education
Regular on-site visits and company retreats
5. Parental benefits
Millennials aren’t just making up the majority of the workforce; they’re becoming parents. Because of this, candidates might be looking for benefits like mothers’ rooms, fertility treatments, daycare stipends, and more inclusive versions of traditional benefits like dual parent parental leave. Flexible work arrangements can also be hugely beneficial to working parents, allowing them to save on childcare.
6. Free snacks and coffee
Among the least coveted perks are free snacks and coffee. Although free food does show employees that their company is interested in their health, while encouraging breaks to snack, 31% of respondents said they gave no consideration at all to whether or not free food was provided by their prospective employer. Providing free snacks to employees has the potential to add up, but it is overall cheaper than the majority of benefits previously mentioned. In general, providing snacks and coffee for employees is a simple and generous way to keep employees happier.
Providing benefits can be extremely...beneficial
Providing the right mix of benefits for in-office and remote employees that are both affordable for your company and highly sought-after for job seekers will give you a competitive edge this hiring season. Be thoughtful about what you provide, and fill in the gaps your competitors forget about.
Sophia Bernazzani is the Content Marketing Manager at Owl Labs, creator of the Meeting Owl, a 360° smart video conferencing camera. She lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts, and when she's not writing about leadership and remote work, you can find her doing yoga or taking pictures of her cat.