Checklist of Important Employee Benefits: Compete or Be Poached


You’ve put a lot of work and effort into growing your business. You know, though, that to continue on a trajectory of success requires quality employees - and therein lies the problem. In the current job market, where everybody is competing to fill open positions, the biggest challenges business owners have is not just hiring quality employees, but figuring out how to get them to stay once they are hired. Businesses are finding they must present a solid portfolio of employee benefits in order to compete for available candidates. 

While many business owners believe they can’t afford to offer these kinds of perks, the truth is that you almost can’t afford not to. This checklist will guide you in creating an attractive employment package that will help tip the scales in your favor as quality candidates weigh their options. 

Legally Required Benefits

To stay legal, there are basic benefits that you’re required to provide to your employees. These items are generally so common that most people don’t even see them as actual benefits. Thus, if this is all you’re offering, it is incredibly hard to stay competitive against firms that are providing staff members with a whole lot more. Examples include.

  • Time off to vote, serve on a jury and perform military service.
  • Comply with all workers’ compensation requirements.
  • Withhold FICA taxes from employee paychecks and pay your portion of FICA taxes, providing employees with retirement and disability benefits.
  • Pay state and federal unemployment taxes, providing benefits for unemployed workers.
  • Contribute to state short-term disability programs in states where such programs exist. 
  • Comply with Federal Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) requirements for your state.

See what we mean? These are the basic requirements for legally having employees that work for your business and most individuals won’t even see them as perks for choosing one company over another.

Benefits Needed to Stay Competitive

That said, there are other benefits that make your business at least somewhat competitive when trying to attract new talent. These are perks that are nice to have, but not legally required. Most small businesses usually find ways to include one or two of these options, but not always the whole list. Examples of the most common employee benefits include:

  • Retirement plans
  • Health plans (except in Hawaii)
  • Dental or vision plans
  • Life insurance plans
  • Paid vacations, holidays, or sick leave

When offering paid time off, most employees expect one to two weeks paid vacation each year. In addition, they also have the expectation of having one to two weeks of paid sick leave annually, plus time off for major holidays. The easiest way to ensure your employees are on the same page about what they have access to and when they can take this time off is to have a comprehensive employee handbook that each person has a copy of or immediate access to.

It’s also worth noting that when you offer these optional benefits, you’ll need to consult with an expert who knows how to stay compliant with all Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines. By working with a trusted partner, you can rest assured that you’re selecting just the right option for your company’s size, claim history, and financial history.

Extra Perks to Improve Employee Retention

Now, there are always companies out there that put a huge emphasis on employee benefits and overall high retention. These are the businesses that you’re competing against and staying at their level is a surefire way to keep staff motivated and excited about working for your firm. While this is definitely not an exhaustive list, it gives you a few ideas of perks you can offer your team:

  • In-house professional development
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Flexible work hours
  • Flexibility in dress code
  • The ability to work from home
  • In-office childcare or a special bonus to help with outside costs
  • Health support for things like mental health, smoking cessation, stress management etc. 
  • Student loan paydowns
  • Food and drink through stocked kitchens or catered lunches
  • A pet-friendly environment
  • Giving back and community involvement
  • Office parties and social gatherings
  • Continuing education for job skills
  • Free company branded attire/swag
  • Discounts at major retailers
  • Profit sharing bonuses
  • Flexible paid holidays for personal use
  • Time off to take care of an aging parent
  • Extensive maternity and paternity leave

Really, this is just the start of the many different benefits you can offer employees to boost overall morale and make your business a better place to work. We suggest a candid brainstorming session with your current employees. Find out what they would like and give them the freedom to make suggestions. The answer you need may be right in front of you - all you have to do is ask. 

Don't Forget the Single Most Important Benefit of All

Bottom line, there are lots of options available, with some at little or no out-of-pocket expense, that will make your business an attractive place to work long-term. Never forget, however, that employee perks won't replace poor leadership. Perhaps the most important benefit to your employees should be a non-negotiable commitment to a positive work environment and inspiring leadership. It's up to you. Take care of your people and appreciate them...or someone else will.

Have questions? Whether you’re looking to see what it takes to add on health coverage for your staff or need something a little more comprehensive, our dedicated team at Winter-Dent is ready to assist. 




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