In a job seeker’s market — that is, when there are more jobs than people looking for them — qualified candidates can afford to be picky about the jobs they apply to and interview for. Suddenly your company is trying desperately to attract candidates for the job.
One way you can be more appealing to the types of candidates you want to hire is to offer the best benefits around.
Benefits Matter More Than Salary to Most
While you might think offering a high salary would be the best thing you could do to be competitive in the job market, 80 percent of employees would rather have more benefits than more money. It’s often those intangibles, like having the ability to work from home, that make employees happy to work for you.
But how can you ensure that you stand out in a sea of employers?
1. Know Your Audience
While certainly, you will have a mix of Millennials, Boomers and everyone in between, you may have a significant number of staff from one particular generation group. Pay attention to who they are and what they want collectively.
Boomers, for example, may prefer a solid retirement plan, while Millennials may want a flexible work schedule. Women with children may want on-site childcare or paid maternity leave. Knowing what motivates your staff can help you develop benefits that they’re excited to earn.
[Related: 8 Must-Offer Benefits That’ll Attract & Recruit Working Moms]
2. Don’t Overlook Cost-Free Benefits
While you may scratch your head and wonder how Silicon Valley companies can afford to provide thousands of employees with free beer on Fridays or company-sponsored cruises, realize that you don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of money to make employees happy.
Letting employees work from home one or more days a week is a fantastic perk, as is letting them decide when they work their 40 hours each week. Providing a lactation room for nursing mothers shows you care about their wellbeing, and doesn’t cost anything more than space. Letting staff wear flip-flops and shorts on Friday is another free benefit that can pack a punch.
3. See How You Stack Up
The best way to know if you’re offering the best benefits in town is to spy on the competition. Look at what other companies are offering for comparable positions, and what employees say about those benefits.
People talk, so pay attention at social gatherings when friends talk about their jobs and ask questions to understand what they’re getting in terms of benefits, so you can find gaps to fill to make your company more attractive as an employer.
4. Simplify Benefits Tracking
It’s all too easy for benefits to get out of hand in terms of tracking vacation time and FSA contributions. If you’re not already using a payroll provider, here’s all the more reason to do so: they can track accrued and used vacation and sick time, as well as employer contributions for health insurance and other benefits. You’ve got enough work to do; tracking benefits shouldn’t be added to your list.
5. Ask Your Staff
The best way to know if you’re offering appealing benefits is to survey your staff to find out. Which benefits are the most valuable to them? Which are just a waste? What benefits appealed to them most when they were offered the job initially?
Knowing what’s hitting the mark and what isn’t will keep you from wasting money on the wrong benefits and help you zero in on what is most likely to attract high-quality job candidates when you’re hiring.
You could even create a committee of employees from different departments to work with HR to come up with a compelling benefits package. Having non-management employees weighing in might bring different perspectives from your own and ensure you’re tapped into what potential hires really want.
[Related: Overcoming The Fear Of Feedback]
6. Don’t Skimp!
Certainly, benefits aren’t always cheap. They can increase your payroll costs by as much as 50 percent. And yet, cutting corners to save money helps no one. Take health insurance as an example. You are required by law to provide it to all full-time employees, but maybe you decide to enroll in the cheapest plan you can find. This plan, however, has high deductibles that are so prohibitive that many employees can’t afford healthcare services. This could stress them out and cause them to put further strain on their health, which will result in even more problems down the line. All benefits aren’t created equal, so make sure you spend enough to make your employees’ lives a little easier.
In addition to the opportunity you’re hiring for and salary you’re offering, employee benefits are one of the deciding factors that helps a candidate determine whether he/she wants to work for you or not. Put a little effort in, and you’ll be rewarded with great talent.
Meenal Upadhyay is an SEO Associate at Fit Small Business.