15 Unique Employee Benefits To Attract (And
Keep) Talent

Keely Teynor

people waiting for job interview

It’s no surprise that this is an applicant’s market when it comes to hiring and retaining employees. It can be a challenge for many small businesses to try and figure out how to be competitive with other companies that can offer some fantastic benefits packages. A well-rounded benefits package is something that is becoming more critical than ever to attract and keep high-quality staff.

Studies show that practical and unique employee benefits are the best way to keep employees happy. Unique benefits are the employer’s way of showing that they care about an employee’s health and well-being. In our hiring experts’ experience, the more an employee feels cared for, the better they will want to perform, and the longer they will want to stay at a company. 

First, as an employer, you need to ensure that you follow any state and local laws for any benefits to employees.  For example, Colorado employers in charge of 16 or more employees must offer paid sick leave. While the law was initiated in 2021, it will be mandated for all employers starting in 2022. Make sure your business is up-to-date on any employee benefit requirements, and use that as a jumping-off point to get creative with your HR team! 

Unique Employee Benefits for Small Business Owners

We know that many small businesses may not be able to offer all of these. When considering these options, you can also choose when these start. For example, suppose you aren’t able to contribute a lot to employee medical benefit premium. Instead, you can have your benefits plans take effect on the first of the month following the hiring date. We always recommend offering paid time off (PTO) that begins to accrue immediately.  This is one of the best recommendations we can make to a small business owner — be generous in your PTO and holiday time.  It is important to think about what you can offer now and add this to your business planning process for the future.

Check out our comprehensive list of unique employee benefits that employers can offer to stay competitive in the hiring market.

1. Immediately Accruing PTO

The practice of immediately accruing PTO after an initiation period is an easy win for employers. Considering the prolonged onboarding process and the time it takes for new employees to adjust to a new job, employees will, on average, not take any time off for the first three to six months of their employment. But, it will help them feel cared for and productive if they have to take a necessary break or personal day.

2. Employer Contributions to Health Insurance

This could be medical, dental, vision, life, or any combination of the four. Even if it’s 50%, it’s a big gesture to any employee navigating the healthcare industry. As many as 46% of employees cite a company’s healthcare benefits as the reason they will stay at a company. So, if you can’t afford the most comprehensive deal, helping to pay your employee’s share will go a long way.

3. Flex Work Policies

The pandemic has brought many changes, none of which has been more prevalent than remote work. Workers in many different industries now want to make their own rules as to where/when they work. A new study shows 80% of candidates can be swayed by a flexible work environment.

4. Making the working environment more appealing

Sprucing up the place and creating an exciting and productive energy is an excellent investment into your business on your employees’ behalf. Consider adding fitness facilities, a state-of-the-art breakroom with coffee and amenities, or even social areas that include a pool or ping pong table to help your employees take time to re-center.

5. Paid Holiday Parties

While paid holidays are often included, paying employees to participate in holiday festivities is a unique benefit. Fun holiday parties often boost morale, communication, and teamwork within the company, and it will also help employees cope with the notoriously stressful time. In addition, we’ve found that improving the company’s culture is always a worthy investment. Depending on your business, making the party child-friendly could also increase attendance!

6. Health Savings Account (HSA) & Other Health Reimbursements

We have found this is especially helpful for small businesses who have to opt for Higher Deductible plans. Employees will see it as a safety net against any unforeseen out-of-pocket expenses. Outside of traditional HSA’s, this could be a Health Care Reimbursement Account or even Child Care Reimbursement Account. Get creative with your HR team!

7. Matched Retirement Accounts & Financial Planning

Whether your employees are young and not thinking about the future or are older and looking forward to retirement, helping an employee plan for their future is a sure way to encourage employees to stay with your business for the long haul. 401k matching and investment advice resources are popular with employees because it takes the burden off of their shoulders. Savvy small businesses are already thinking ahead financially, so work with your employees to keep you all on the same page.

8. Free Wearable Swag

Branding your business is already top of mind, so why not let your employees help you spread the word? Providing branded apparel can help employees feel included, especially if it’s gear they want to wear. This benefit can also help you gauge employee support for the company, because if they’d promote it they’re likely proud of working for you.

9. Short-Term Disability

While some more progressive states require it, guaranteeing an employee will be taken care of in an emergency is a meaningful benefit. Depending on the injury, many employees would much rather have their job waiting for them after recovering, and many employers would rather not have to hire again.

10. Catered Lunches & Snacks

Long days are often unavoidable. Some industries have deadlines that can push a whole office into panic mode. Paying for your employee’s meals and snacks will not only keep work momentum going but will save employees time and money to plan around a stressful work crunch.

11. Professional Development Options

Upskilling is a unique employee benefit that has many positive dividends. If your loyal employees want to learn and grow within your company, you should reward them by giving them that opportunity. Paying for classes, mentorship programs, and employee shadowing are just a few ways to help your employees grow and foster a sense of community and affinity to your company’s culture.

12. Fitness Memberships & Lifestyle incentives

Did you know gym memberships for employees can reduce health expenses for employers by 18.4 percent?. This unique employee benefit has every chance to pay off with more than just having happy employees that want to stay.

13. Cultural Discounts and Passes

Passes to concerts, live theatre, and museums are just a few ideas you can use to sweeten any contract. These kinds of perks can even be used to create partnerships in your community. Your employees will feel stimulated and creatively refreshed after using this perk.

14. Tuition Reimbursement and Student Loan Assistance

In today’s job market, wanting college-educated talent also means wanting employees who are navigating debt. There are unique ways of paying your employees that will help alleviate this stress. Talk to your HR professional to find out what options are available for your employees.

15. Commuter Benefits (bus and/or train pass)

The average worker can spend up to an average of 5k per year commuting to work, so this cost is often factored into any new career decision. Creating tax-free public transit allowances is a unique way to work within the law to help your employees. Have your HR professionals look into your state’s commuter benefits options.

Considering ROI When Considering Your Business’s Unique Employee Benefits

Overall, we know that investing in your employees produces a great return. According to Benefits Pro, here are the top ROI for employee benefits:

  1. Health care (medical, dental, vision)
  2. Wellness programs (reimbursement for in-person, at home, and/or apps/online services)
  3. Mental health benefits (mental health coverage or access to Employee Assistance Programs)
  4. Tuition reimbursement and/or loan forgiveness
  5. Flex-time, or providing the option to work from home
  6. Financial wellness benefits (education and/or access to an advisor to help get the employee on track)

By adding benefits for your employees, you will be more competitive in the job market and hopefully keep your staff longer.

If you want help with where to start in setting up or enhancing your benefit plans, reach out, and our hiring specialists will steer you in the right direction. As always, if you need help with hiring, we are here for you!