Employee Benefits: How to Make Your Employees Happy

employee benefits surveyThe tech companies in Silicon Valley have brought us a new trend: extreme employee benefits. Think free gourmet lunches and trendy organic snacks. Round-the-clock designer coffees and Red Bull. Onsite yoga classes. Free massages. Housing assistance. Free haircuts. And even death benefits.

Yes, talent competition has gone to an even greater extreme. Forbes’s reports: “Should a U.S. Googler pass away while under the employ of the 14-year old search giant, their surviving spouse or domestic partner will receive a check for 50% of their salary every year for the next decade. Even more surprising, a Google spokesperson confirms that most of their 34,000 Google employees qualify. In addition to the 10-year pay package, surviving spouses will see all stocks vested immediately, and any children will receive a $1,000 monthly payment from the company until they reach the age of 19 (or 23 if the child is a full-time student).

But take heart. Businesses offering extreme benefits are in the minority. None the less, you should offer employees the benefits they want because you will gain in reduced attrition and greater productivity. And the good news is: it’s not all about increasing salary.

Here are today’s top employee benefits – as identified by employees:

  1. Not surprisingly, in a time of rising health costs and declining company-paid health benefits, this is a big one. And Metlife employee benefits study, 61% of employees who said they are “very satisfied” with their company were satisfied because of the health benefits.
  2. Retirement benefits. While they are still working for you, retirement benefits give them something positive to anticipate. And again at a time when most Americans have not been saving enough to retire, this is a big help.
  3. Workplace flexibility. Schedule and workplace flexibility is a great benefit for employees juggling careers, families, elder care, school – just about anything.
  4. Company wellness program. Building a company culture of health, fitness, and well-being reinforces your commitment to a maintaining a healthy and productive workforce. Wellness programs need not be expensive or elaborate, but encouraging and rewarding participation is important. And if your employees do become fitter and healthier, you can save money as well.
  5. Tuition reimbursement. Employee development is important to retain key employees, as well as to provide a base for future company growth. Employees who want further education welcome and appreciate your sharing the burden with them. And once they have their degree, you share the benefit.
  6. Family focus. Whether or not your employees enjoy their time at work, one thing is certain: they enjoy their time with their families. Companies who support family time for their employees (whether with reasonable overtime and vacation policies, or with generous maternity/paternity policies) enjoy greater employee retention than those who do not.

While you may not be able to compete in Silicon Valley’s tough talent market, most of us don’t have to. None the less, finding the optimal mix of benefits can be a boon to business growth and success. One thing is certain: the right employee benefits are the ones your employees want, not the ones you decide to give them. So, ask. Employee benefit surveys can be extremely cost effective in identifying the best benefits for your team.

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