Now that ping-pong tables have become table stakes, it will take benefits with substance to attract the best employees.
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In early October, the American unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent — its lowest level since 1969. That’s great for job-seekers, but in a tight labor market, employers must scramble to improve policies, perks and pay if they want to attract the best hires.
This presents you with the chance to get creative. From remote work options to diverse compensation plans, employers like you can tailor your employment package to match the employee.
In this way, you'll follow the path of the most successful businesses, which see competitive talent markets not as an obstacle but rather an opportunity to demonstrate their companies' merits, and entice would-be employees.
Flashy perks are out of fashion.
Startup culture glorifies fun fringe benefits like ping-pong tables, beer on tap and free pizza. After all, what employees wouldn’t choose to spend Friday afternoons goofing off with co-workers and snacks?
Turns out, most of them. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that most employees would leave their current job if a competitor offered substantially more flexibility and money — not perks.
Real adult workers might enjoy Galaga arcade games in the break room, but they would rather be able to leave early to pick up their kids, schedule longer vacations and pay for better lifestyles with fatter paychecks.
When the job market puts the power in the hands of the worker, businesses can’t skate by on superficial perks. To attract high-quality employees who will stay, companies must offer practical, competitive benefits with long-term appeal.
Here is what the top talent really wants:
1. Assistance with student debt and housing costs
The student loan debt crisis is bad and getting worse. College graduates are finding jobs, but their wages aren’t going up. Those in the workforce are making payments late and falling into delinquency.
The problem isn’t limited to recent grads, either. Debt.org reports that the number of people older than 60 with student loan debt has quadrupled over the last 10 years.
Companies can help workers break this cycle by offering student loan support in addition to regular salary. Some providers of 401(k) programs now help employers offer student loan assistance programs, to attract new employees.
Employees saddled with debt often struggle to save up for big purchases like houses. In addition to student loan assistance, consider offering a mortgage assistance program to help employees pay for housing. Not only will employees appreciate the fast track to home ownership, but they might stay with the company longer if they buy a house with a five-minute commute.
2. Forward-thinking travel policies
The Global Business Travel Association found that 59 percent of candidates surveyed consider travel policies when they choose an employer. And there’s a lot more to take into account here than just help booking a flight.
In fact, a movement is growing to make employee comfort a priority in business travel plans, since 79 percent of business travelers report that travel experiences affect their job satisfaction.
“The direct benefit of revamped travel policies is increased loyalty from employees and potential hires alike,” Scott Hyden wrote on Recruiter.com; he's chief experience officer for RoomIt, a hotel-booking solution for corporate travelers.
What's important is that smart employers not cram employees into the cheapest non-chain hotel closest to the airport. They take care of the little things (like storing and shipping business clothing) to make every travel experience go smoothly. They allow traveling workers to earn loyalty perks and points from hotels and airlines for personal redemptions. These small courtesies don’t cost much, but they make a big difference to workers.
3. Preparation help for retirement
According to PwC’s 2018 Employee Financial Wellness survey, most employees are not confident that their retirement savings will even make it to retirement; 42 percent surveyed believed they would need to use money from retirement plans for other expenses.
Leaders should work with retirement plan providers and financial services companies to provide employees with resources and tools to plan for the future no matter what their salary grade.
By providing retirement literacy and investment-education options, enterprises help workers make the most of their paychecks and live healthy, fulfilling lives. Don’t just put the resources out there and let employees figure it out themselves, though. Invite financial advisors to come talk to employees every few months about their options.
Invest in workers’ futures, and they will be more likely to spend that future with the company that helped them. Even if it’s not currently possible to offer a 401(k) match, employees will appreciate the educational assistance in getting their savings plans up to snuff.
So, yes, ping-pong tables and puppy breaks are fine, but employees are more interested in stability and flexibility than entertainment. Use practical benefits to attract top talent, retain the best workers and ensure that people who work for the company have the resources they need to live successful lives.