“Great benefits are essential for attracting the best talent.”

The competition for new talent in a crowded job market can be intense. No one knows this better than HR professionals who often are tasked with recruitment, applicant tracking and onboarding. To overcome this challenge, you need to do everything you can to make your company stand out in ways that your competition simply can’t match; offering a comprehensive benefits package is one of the best ways to reach that goal.

Let’s take a closer look at just why benefits – ranging from old standbys like health care and paid vacation to relatively new offerings like paid time off to do volunteer work or pet insurance – can play such a critical role in the race for talent:

How much benefits matter

A comprehensive, well-rounded benefits package may make all the difference between keeping and losing a job candidate – or an existing hire. While salary is still important (we all have bills to pay!), benefits are becoming an increasingly important factor for individuals evaluating job offers. A late 2018 study conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Institute of CPAs found that 80% of those surveyed would likely choose a job with solid benefits over a position with a more generous salary but no benefits.

Creating a comprehensive benefits package to attract and retain top talentA comprehensive, well-rounded benefits package may make all the difference between keeping and losing a job candidate – or an existing hire.

It’s worth noting that this study surveyed more than 2,000 adults in the U.S., more than half of whom were employed: What is interesting is that even those who were unemployed said they would not immediately accept a high-paying job that offered no health insurance or other meaningful benefits. And although there are few companies that offer no benefits at all, the point is that the benefits you’re offering will be carefully considered by your candidates. And, in cases where the salary offers are similar, the better benefits package will most likely win.

What does a comprehensive benefits package look like

There is no one-size-fits-all set of perks that a comprehensive benefits package should include. In fact, to meet the needs of as many of your employees as possible, you will need to offer a variety of benefits plans and options.

But there are certain perks that generally make sense to consider and are widely appreciated by all generations that make up the workforce today. These include:

Health insurance and related services: These are the bread and butter of contemporary benefits. In addition to meaningful health coverage, it’s wise to have vision and dental insurance as part of this category. Other options such as flexible spending accounts (FSA), health reimbursement accounts (HRA) and health savings accounts (HSA) can also help employees manage the financial costs of medical care. Be sure to evaluate whether or not these plan options make sense for your firm.

Paid time off: The importance of such perks is self-explanatory – give your employees time when they need it. There are several paid-time off options, but the most popular are vacation and sick days. More companies are offering discretionary time off (DTO), unlimited time off and mandatory paid sabbaticals to provide better work-life balance, but these plans are not feasible for all businesses.

Financial benefits: The traditional financial benefit is to help employees save for retirement in the form of a 401(k) or 403(b). Other options include life insurance, short-term and long-term disability, worker’s compensation and free financial planning services.

Then there are a number of newer offerings that aren’t standard but are becoming increasingly popular and desired by employees:

Family leave: Some states require all businesses to offer paid family leave. Even if your state doesn’t, it’s still prudent to have at least some form of defined family leave available, as it’s becoming a benefit many workers expect. This includes maternity and paternity leave as well as paid time-off to take care of disabled or elderly loved ones.

Pet insurance: Veterinarian bills are much higher than you might think, and workers who love their pets will appreciate the assist.

Volunteer leave: Organizations may offer this benefit to employees with a passion for charitable work. It can be even easier to manage if your company has an established partnership with one or more nonprofits.

Education reimbursement: This involves reimbursing employees for some or all costs of any course or training program they take with your approval, or assisting them with tuition for higher education. According to a survey by EdAssist, about half of all millennial workers expect some financial help from their employer to pursue further education.

Sabbaticals: This benefit is typically tied to tenure to acknowledge and reward employees who have been with the company for a certain period of time. For example, at PeopleStrategy, all employees are required to take a month-long paid sabbatical every five years. It is a great opportunity for employees to rest, recharge and return with a renewed focus.

You don’t have to provide all of these supplemental perks for your offerings package to be considered comprehensive – but it makes sense to offer those that that will appeal to and benefit a significant part of your workforce without putting your company in financial jeopardy.

Benchmarking your benefit offerings

Providing clear evidence of how great your benefits package is to both current employees and prospective hires is critical. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, using a benchmarking tool – to evaluate your package’s full value and see how it stacks up against those offered by competing organizations – can effectively illustrate any benefits-related advantage you may have. As an HR leader, you just have to make sure the most attractive offerings are included.

Turning to PeopleStrategy

The bundled solution from PeopleStrategy provides you not only with a robust, all-in-one HR platform for managing essential benefits administration tasks (as well as your HR, payroll and other talent-related processes), but also with the assistance of fully licensed benefits brokers. Our best-in-class combination of reliable HR technology, value-added benefits and wide-ranging services can help your business create the right benefits package for your company to pursue and keep top talent, in the best interest of your bottom line.