employee benefits

Given how the average person spends around a third of his or her life working, it makes sense that potential job candidates most often apply for positions accompanied by attractive employee benefits. People need work, and while many companies can almost always fill a vacant role, luring in talented workers who genuinely add value requires corporations to provide incentives that reflect their treatment of staff as people, not just as numbers.

There are a number of factors that influence the types of benefits that businesses can and should be offering, including law, cost and sector/industry type.

Law

Several basic benefits are required for American companies to provide by US federal or state laws. These include:

  • Social Security taxes

All businesses must pay Social Security taxes at the same rate paid by their employees.

  • Unemployment insurance

In many cases, businesses are required to register and pay for unemployment insurance taxes.

  • Workers’ compensation

All businesses are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

  • Disability insurance

The states of California, New Jersey, New York, Hawaii and Rhode Island as well as Puerto Rico require all businesses to offer a form of wage replacement insurance to employees for non-work related illness/injury.

  • Family and medical leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) means that businesses must allow employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to care for newborn children, sick family members or employee themselves in the event of a serious medical condition.

Cost

It can be tempting for struggling businesses to eradicate employee benefits in an attempt to cut back on expenses, but this may lead to further problems down the line, including dissatisfaction among the workforce and high staff turnover rates.

Instead of eliminating benefits completely, any company operating within a tight budget needs to think creatively in terms of what it can provide for staff. If it can’t offer paid time off or insurance policies, a good approach is to offer perks such as:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Events/parties
  • Pets in the workplace
  • Employee of the Month Awards
  • Monthly free lunches
  • Seminars conducted by industry professionals
  • Employee discounts
  • Relaxed dress codes
  • “Chill Out” areas

These benefits all come at a low cost and will help guarantee high employee satisfaction levels, even during tougher times.

Sector/Industry

Businesses should take care to offer the right benefits for their employees given the nature of the sector or industry in which they operate.

  • Tech/computing businesses

Some of the most common types of injuries among office workers include vision problems and Repetitive Strain Injury from staring at monitors and using keyboards on a frequent basis. Businesses in these types of industries can attract potential candidates by providing various benefits, including optical treatments offered in places such as Houston, LASIK and ergonomic keyboards to reduce the onset of vision and hand injuries.

  • Labor

Given how laborers often work at significant heights and/or with potentially dangerous equipment, businesses that operate in the construction/building/manufacturing industry should offer financial protection and insurance for employees in the event that they are injured on the job.

  • Education

Education businesses can offer staff further opportunities to expand their academic knowledge by providing tuition reimbursement, options for sabbaticals and free use of textbooks and on-site facilities.

  • Healthcare

Businesses in the healthcare sector can raise employee satisfaction levels by offering benefits such as on-site health screenings, technical training, health programs for staff and tuition reimbursement.

  • Retail

Retail businesses can attract employees by offering staff discounts on their products. ASOS, for example, provides all staff on their payroll with up to 40% off on purchases.

  • Automobile

Workers in the automobile industry often have a genuine interest in their work, and companies operating in this sector can increase satisfaction among their employees by offering them access to mechanical parts for discount prices, the opportunity to use workspace for personal vehicle-related endeavors and tickets for events such as car shows.

Offering employee benefits is essential to attract the most talented staff members and keep them happy once they’re on the job. In order to provide the “best” benefits, a business must consider the specific needs and wants of the employees in that particular industry. It’s always worth requesting the HR department to conduct an employee survey about benefits as well, as this way, a business can gauge what staff expect and feel that they deserve. Ultimately, the amount of thought that a business puts into employee benefits can determine whether the company sinks or swims.