Open enrollment season is here, and with employees and job seekers thinking carefully about their health insurance, there’s never been a better time to reevaluate how you tout your company’s benefits. While you want a candidate who’s passionate about the job, the perks that come with it are undeniably great recruiting and retention tools—if you use them properly.
The fact is, you could have the most incredible perks and benefits package imaginable—but if you don’t make candidates aware of it, it won’t help you hire. A recent report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that companies which use their benefits package as a strategic tool for recruiting and retention experience a 19% effectiveness rate in recruitment, compared to just 8% for companies that didn’t.
Considering that 60% of candidates would be willing to take a job with a lower salary if it offered better benefits, the way you position your benefits while hiring could make all the difference between landing the perfect fit, or losing him or her to a competitor. And it’s not just the traditional benefits that matter—candidates are interested in hearing about any way your company will make their job and their life better, from handy discounts on branded products to fun culture perks like volunteer programs and ‘bring your pet to work’ day.
With that in mind, here are three types of benefits and perks you may offer that candidates want to learn about—and a few tips for building them into your hiring process more strategically.
The traditional benefits: health and wellness, vacation time, and retirement benefits are highly valued by candidates
With around 90% of mid- to large-size companies offering an employee health plan option, it can be easy to take this benefit for granted. But 88% of employees say that better health, dental, and vision insurance is a consideration for them when deciding between a higher- and lower-paid job, so the more detail you can provide around your plan, the better.
Vision and dental insurance in particular are rarer offerings than medical coverage alone, so if you’ve got them, flaunt them. About 14 million Americans have a visual impairment, and everyone has teeth, so these benefits can greatly impact an employee’s health and quality of life.
Beyond medical, vision, and dental plans, if your company has adopted a wellness program, let candidates know all about it. More than nine in 10 companies offers at least one wellness initiative, so failing to mention a wellness perk you offer could make you stand out for all the wrong reasons. From on-site gyms to free healthy snacks in the office, these perks show candidates that your company is invested in their well-being.
Another huge consideration for many job seekers is the number of vacation days your company offers. Eight in ten employees say more vacation time might tip the scales for them when choosing between a high- and lower-paying job—and almost two-thirds (63%) wouldn’t even consider a job opportunity that came with fewer than 15 days of paid vacation each year. Yikes.
The last big traditional benefit you should consider featuring prominently throughout your hiring process is the retirement plan, if you offer one. For 81% of employees, looking at retirement benefits makes up a major portion of their job search, so mention that 401(k), pension, or profit-sharing option. With 42% of businesses that offer a pension scheme say it’s improved their ability to recruit; just a few words in your job description or on your career site can go a long way!
The creative benefits: perks like flexible work options and volunteer programs are very important to today’s job seeker
If you’re a small business, you might not be able to compete with bigger fish when it comes to healthcare and other traditional benefits. The good news is, modern job seekers are just as invested in creative benefits that relate to your company culture and their work-life balance. In fact, 68% say “work perks” are just as important as traditional benefits, and 70% say they’re a key consideration when evaluating job offers.
Take telecommuting. A full 77% of employees say they’d be more likely to accept a job offer if they knew they could telecommute at least some of the time. Among 18-34 year olds, that number rises to 86%. Any flexible work options you offer can make employees’ lives easier and save them money in the long-run—reducing transportation and childcare costs and making it easier to live in a cheaper neighborhood that’s further from work.
Another non-traditional benefit that employees respond enthusiastically to is volunteering. This is unsurprising: 79% of candidates say they’d prefer to work for a socially responsible company, so any paid time off for volunteering or company-wide volunteering programs can instantly catch their eye. And since only 38% of employees say their current company offers a volunteering program, this can be a big differentiator during the hiring process.
Even if you don’t have a specific perks program in place, think about the little things your company does for employees that make working there dynamic and fun. It could be free bagels on a Friday, the pool table in the break room, or just the fact that the CEO loves to interact one-on-one with the staff. Any detail you can give that makes your company stand out from its competitors could be the thing that wins a candidate’s heart.
The value-added perks: show employees the dollars they will save by becoming part of the team
A final type of benefit to consider mentioning is the value-added perk—the perk that puts dollars back in the candidate’s pocket. Ben & Jerry’s, for example, lets employees take home three pints of ice cream every day. Staff at Whole Foods Market get 20% off their shopping—saving them countless dollars on their everyday groceries and toiletries.
With perks like that, many job seekers will settle for a lower salary than they might get elsewhere, because they know they’re ultimately getting a better deal. Whatever you offer, if you can provide employees with a benefits statement that outlines the real dollar value of all your benefits, it can really help put your job offer in perspective for them.
You may also want to use benchmarking tools to show how your benefits shape up compared to your competitors. Their perks may look flashier, but will they actually make a bigger difference in the candidate’s life, or is it all smoke and mirrors?
At the end of the day, your perks and benefits don’t just help you stand out from your competitors and make your company look more appealing to your candidates. They also add personality to your company, showing candidates that you care about your employees.
When all else is equal, even free bagels on a Friday might make your job offer win out over another. So don’t forget to mention those enticing perks in your job descriptions, on your careers site, and during the interview process to keep your company at the top of your candidates’ minds.