Tested Employee Benefits That Keep Our Retention—And Productivity—High

Tested Employee Benefits That Keep Our Retention—And Productivity—High

What your current and potential customers think of your products/services isn’t the only thing that matters. You also have to consider your employer brand—aka what current and potential employees think of your workplace.

A large part of having a positive employer brand is offering the benefits employees want. I’m talking about the tangible and intangible workplace benefits that make them get out of bed each morning and stick around during periods like The Great Resignation.

My company, Patriot Software, strives for top-of-the-line employee benefits. And thanks to our all-star People Ops Team, we’re always researching and analysing benefits that align our company’s goals with employees’ needs.

Here’s what we’ve found.

6 Employee Benefits Workers Want

Sure, everyone wants a competitive salary and excellent benefits. But, what are “excellent” benefits? And are they actually “excellent” … or just average?

Every person’s different. The benefits one person wants and needs can greatly vary from what another person wants and needs—which is why variety (and knowing each benefit’s take-up rate) is key.

Currently, these are some of the high-performing benefits that contribute to our high job application numbers and low turnover.

1. Generous Pay

OK, this isn’t really a benefit. It’s the real-deal wages for work. But, I think it’s worth mentioning here since pay and benefits go hand in hand.

If you want to attract and retain employees, offering fair pay is a must—which is why we pay at the high-end of national salary pay bands.

To find out if your wages are fair, you can use tools, like the BLS Wage Data and Payscale. Consider key factors, like the employee’s or applicant’s:

  • Experience
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Location

2. Paid Time Off

Who doesn’t love paid time off from work to take a vacation? Just under 80% of private industry employees have access to paid vacation time, according to the most recent data. Suffice it to say, paid time off is an in-demand benefit.

So, how much should you offer? The BLS found that full-time employees receive an average of 10 days of paid vacation days after one year of service.

To us, 10 days just didn’t cut it. We know our co-workers work hard each day. So, we offer a generous paid time off (PTO) policy that gives employees PTO starting the first day of the month after hire.

In addition to increasing retention, paid time off can help prevent burnout, boost engagement, and increase productivity. It’s a win-win-win.

3. Remote Work

When COVID-19 hit, we went remote—and stayed that way. And now, my co-workers can enjoy working out of the comfort and convenience of their homes nationwide. They’re also welcome to work from our Ohio office, too (about 5%, including myself, like to head to work some or all of the time).

Sixty-eight percent of Americans want to work from home. It’s a benefit that went from a luxury to the norm during the pandemic. Like Patriot, many companies stayed remote or switched to a hybrid work model.

Remote work is, of course, a beautiful thing. But, we also know how important it is to stay connected. Despite working from home across 28 states, we like to stay in touch through various Slack channels, wellness programs, and an annual lake day.

4. Ownership

Ownership may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “employee benefits.” But, I learned firsthand what it was like to be a cog on a wheel, clocking in and out at a factory. And I never wanted that again—for myself or my co-workers.

That’s why I think it’s so important for you to allow employees to take ownership of their work and have pride in what they do. As they say, if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. And how can you love what you do if you don’t have pride or ownership in it?

Because we started out as a small business with a lean team, it was easy for everyone to have ownership. And even though we’ve grown to over 200 employees, we aim to carry over that same mentality.

If you want to offer this type of benefit, you gotta commit to it. That means throwing micromanaging out the window, growing leaders, and showing employees how their roles serve your business mission.

Ownership of work goes hand in hand with recognition. You can recognize employees through company-wide callouts (we use 15Five) and gift cards, to name a few.

5. Health Benefits And 401(k) Company Match

Back to the basics. We offer comprehensive health benefits (e.g., medical, vision, and dental) and make them available to full-time employees the first of the month after hire. And, we offer 401(k) plans (complete with a company match).

These benefits are popular not just in our workplace, but also in the majority of businesses nationwide. According to the BLS, 70% of private industry employees have access to health benefits, and 69% have access to retirement plans.

But for small businesses, offering these types of benefits can pose a challenge. After all, they’re expensive and time-consuming for an employer who’s wearing a million and one hats.

There are several small business health insurance options you can choose from, including a QSEHRA (Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement) which is only available to small companies. And if you’re a small business owner and want to offer a traditional health plan, you may be eligible for a small business health care tax credit. The credit is worth up to 50% of the costs you pay for employee premiums.

And if you want to offer retirement plan options for your employees, your train just arrived. At the end of 2022, the government passed SECURE 2.0, expanding tax credits for small business owners who want to offer retirement plans. Now, employers with 50 or fewer employees can claim a 100% tax credit to cover the administrative costs of establishing a retirement plan.

6. Tuition Reimbursement

We love that our co-workers have a love of learning. To encourage that, we offer education assistance up to the IRS tax-excludable limit ($5,250).

Here’s what we’ve found: Helping someone further their education comes with a slew of benefits for them and us, such as increased:

  • Engagement
  • Retention
  • Skill sets
  • Business operations

And, we’re not alone. Companies like Amazon, Chipotle, and UPS also offer this type of employee benefit. In fact, 47% of U.S. employers offered tuition reimbursement in 2019.

Tips For Improving Your Employee Benefits

Want to take your employee benefits package up a notch? Whether you’re a small, medium, or large company, here are a few tips for making improvements:

  1. Look at your budget: Always make sure you have it in the budget to add or change benefits. You don’t want to go bankrupt by offering expensive benefits (that wouldn’t help anybody!).
  2. Keep up with the times: It seems like benefit trends change almost annually, so make sure you’re offering benefits that apply (e.g., working remotely when the pandemic hit).
  3. Do your research: Don’t take a guess that your benefits and pay are fair. Use tools—like PayScale—to find out.
  4. Know what’s happening in the news: New rules and legislation may require you to offer certain benefits (e.g., states with paid family leave laws) or encourage it (e.g., SECURE Act 2.0).
  5. When in doubt, just ask: Why not get it straight from the horse’s mouth? Conduct employee surveys to get feedback on current and future benefits.

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