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Here's a look at the best employee benefits to attract and retain qualified job candidates.

Most business leaders would agree that the best employee benefits balance value with increased employee engagement and satisfaction — especially when they're also proven to contribute to retention and company growth. Finding that balance of value and rewards can be challenging, though, particularly in today's market.

According to Workforce Magazine, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that one-third of businesses have increased their offerings of benefits since 2016 in order to be a competitive employer and attract top talent. Further, a company's benefits account for 30 percent of an employee's total compensation package.

In many cases, attracting and retaining the most talented workers comes down to the quality of your employee benefits. According to PeopleKeep, " Nearly 60 percent of employees say benefits are 'very important' to how they feel about their job and their company, and employees who are satisfied with benefits are almost four times as likely to be satisfied with their jobs." Here's a look at what job candidates in today's prospective workforce likely consider the best employee benefits, as well as a few that may be more trouble than they're worth.

Health and Wellness

Job candidates are interested in the depth and scope of the health care benefits they're offered by a potential employer. Be prepared to explain the providers your company works with, specify the types of programs available and name the cost of copays and premiums.

In an era of turbulent legislative changes surrounding health care, attract talent by offering health savings accounts and making healthy contributions toward these accounts.

By extension, workplace wellness programs can be viewed as an attractive element of a broader benefits package. According to Monster, "Behavioral health programs will become more prevalent as employers look to roll out integrated solutions between physical and mental health conditions."

StudyFinds reported that when employees participate in wellness programs, productivity increases by 5 percent and as much as 11 percent for those with illnesses.

Retirement Savings

Businesses should offer a benefits package that includes opportunities to save for retirement. If your company makes a commitment to meet this demand, hone your messaging to focus on:

  • The types of 401(k) and other plans you offer
  • Information about providers involved
  • The array of investment options available
  • The length of the vesting period before employees are eligible to participate
  • Any matching contributions

Qualified job candidates will likely compare and contrast different employer plans, so it's important to be as thorough and competitive as possible in what you bring to the table.

Paid Time Off and Flexible Scheduling

Job candidates have choices between employers offering different types of paid time off (PTO) and vacation benefits. These can factor heavily in a prospective candidate's final decision on which company to choose. Other offerings can include flexible scheduling and telecommuting.

The Huffington Post offers several reasons why flexible scheduling is so attractive to these particular demographics, including that it:

  • Contributes to overall work-life balance
  • Builds trust within the company
  • Generates cost savings for both employers and employees
  • Fosters strong employee retention

"If workplaces want to accommodate the next generation of workers, then the first step will be adapting to a more flexible schedule," reports The Huffington Post.


Given the pace of activity in the workplace, employers face a growing problem of employee burnout. Consequently, some employers are willing to increase their budgets for vacation days. This added investment to minimize burnout "could be more than offset by the losses of not doing so," according to Benefits Pro. Having employees who are rejuvenated by time off could boost productivity and counter the extra time off.

Cost-conscious employers also want to avoid expensive employee benefits options that might not offer any real value. Forbes reports that there are numerous "gimmicky employee benefits that don't work," such as:

  • "Fluff" benefits like game tables in the workplace and dry cleaning services
  • Pooled PTO policies that result in sick employees feeling obliged to come to work, thereby exposing others to illness
  • Types of perks that apply only to some employees, running the risk of alienating others and demoralizing the workplace
  • Benefits that don't connect with the company's core values

Increasingly, prospective candidates and veteran employees want more substance in their benefits programs, especially related to the different options listed above. Glassdoor reports how employees want better benefits, even more so than a pay raise.

As the demand for benefits that add value to employee compensation continue to grow, so does the cost of providing these benefits. Business owners can turn to their financial partner for cost-effective solutions that help them manage employee benefits and meet this ever-growing need in today's tight labor market.

This material is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individual tax or financial advice. KeyBank does not provide legal advice.

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