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By: Marissa Dalmata

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August 10th, 2017

10 Low Cost Benefit Ideas That Employees Love

HR Best Practices | Smart Benefits

Founder-enthusiasm can fuel a business, but sooner or later you need greater incentives than high-fives and no-shave Fridays to attract the talent you need to grow. But with the rising costs of healthcare, it’s getting harder to offer attractive benefits, especially when you’re just emerging from a startup phase.

While employer-sponsored health insurance still ranks in the top 3 most important employee benefits, more employers are looking to affordable ways of enhancing their benefits packages.

Here are 10 low cost benefits to consider when looking to gain an edge in the competition for top talent.

1. Flex Time

While some employees, like your customer service reps, need to have regular hours, people in sales, marketing, and business development may find their day determined by their leads. The work often continues after “regular” working hours, making it hard to find time for personal maintenance.

Flex Time is a way of preventing burnout amongst employees with irregular hours, many of whom have a working spouse and are trying to avoid an expensive childcare investment.

2. Remote Working

Being able to work from home is another way to help a growing workforce of double-income families curb childcare expenses and build a work schedule around their family. Research shows that 43% of women are likely to leave their career to care for kids. That’s a lot of talent leaving your building.

Perhaps for good reason—it’s hard to think of a nobler career than being a mom. But there are plenty that would love finding a way to stay part of your team while caring for the kids, especially in their children’s early years.

3. Offsite Activities

More than just a company picnic at a state park, employers should consider offering company outings that would give employees an experience otherwise unattainable due to time or finances. An expensive 9-course dinner at a 5-star restaurant certainly won’t be cheap, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of turnover (which can be 2-3 times the annual salary of the departing employee).

4. Pet Sitting and Grooming

At $50-$80 a visit, employer-sponsored on-site pet grooming is both a savings and added convenience for employees, especially considering younger generations are more likely to buy a pet than settle down and start a family before their thirties.

On-site grooming companies in the NY Capital Region, like It’s Fur Real Mobile Pet Spa can come on-site to offices for grooming sessions. (For a greater list of pet-sitting and grooming options in the Capital Region, click here).

5. Health Benefit Education

The average employee does not know how to shop for health coverage. Whether buying on an exchange or through your employer plan, shopping health care can be stressful.

Investing in a basic health benefit education for your employees will empower them to make smart health choices, and also better sell the value of your own plan. You don’t want them getting their education from the competitor down the road.

6. Office Mentoring Programs

The Millenial Generation outnumbers the Gen X’ers 3 to 2 in the workforce, so a mentoring program might be intimidating. However, a regular session with management (better yet the executive suite) to help navigate their career can help employees to see opportunity for advancement in your organization, build rapport, and instill a sense of purpose in their daily routine.

7. Health Coaching

Everyone wants a piece of the wellness pie, but the research shows that one-on-one health coaches are the surest way to instill healthy habits in your people.

8. Onsite Financial Coaching

Like health coaches, increasing numbers of employers are bringing financial planners onsite for regular employee-scheduled appointments. One Virginia Tech study showed that 75% of employees surveyed felt they were making better financial decisions in the workplace due to financial planning programs sponsored by the employer.

By investing in employees’ financial well-being, you’re coaching employees on how to make smarter decisions for their paycheck, and less likely to chase a pay raise someplace else.

9. Commuter Benefits

Generally a benefit more commonly found in urban areas, commuter benefits can help employees (or prospective employees) overcome the financial burdens of getting to work and maintaining a vehicle. For Section 125 commuter benefits, tolls, parking, and even Bicycle maintenance are covered expenses for pre-tax deductions.

10. Local Vendor Discounts

All work and no play makes for a stressful workplace. By partnering with local vendors and restaurants, employers can invest a little legwork and secure some discounts for employees. Often, they don’t even need to make any financial contribution of their own—the vendors are happy to have some free advertising.

What’s the bottom line?

Bottom line, employer-sponsored benefits should focus on making your employee dollars go further. This may mean taking a share of a benefit cost on yourself, but other times it’s an investment of time, a phone call, or personal convenience.

Health insurance, vacation time, and performance bonuses are holding fast in the top 3 spots for employer benefits, but peppering a few alternative benefits into you plan can do a lot to affect employee satisfaction.

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About Marissa Dalmata

Marissa is one of Benetech's long-standing client-service reps, with a passion for wellness and elite knowledge of benefits administration.

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Mistakes are expensive, especially when building benefit plans.

We've outlined the 3 most common mistakes employers make when offering benefits in a quick ebook. Get your copy free when you subscribe to our blog.