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How small businesses can get benefits employees love

The pandemic-linked Great Resignation has been marked by millions of employees either opting out of the workforce or fleeing to other employers. However, many small businesses can seize an opportunity in this challenging landscape.

Gallup estimates that nearly half of all workers are at least open to joining the Great Resignation by changing jobs. While this means all businesses need to watch their turnover, it also means that plenty of top talent is available for hire—assuming you can make them see your company as a better deal than the one they have.

This is where employee benefits come into play. While many job seekers are looking for interesting or meaningful work, or a great company culture, benefits can sweeten the deal. Of course, some small companies struggle to take on the costs of big business perks, especially after a tough economic year. In the past decade alone, the number of small businesses offering basic benefits has shrunk: today, only 44 percent of companies with 49 or fewer employees provide retirement and health plans. 

But here’s the good news: you don’t have to have the benefits of a giant company to woo talented people. You just have to seek out affordable benefits on the market that will make a difference for your people. Here are three suggestions.

1. Low-fee 401(k) plans. 

The 401(k) is an attractive perk for workers, giving employees at all career stages a chance to plan their financial future. Traditionally, however, many small companies have found themselves priced out of the market for these valuable benefits.

However, that is changing—there is a new generation of companies that offer low-fee 401(k) plans specifically for small organizations with few employees. A 401(k) plan is something many people need—according to Guideline, a small business 401k provider, half of all families lack any type of retirement savings. You can attract talent by offering a chance to plan for the future.

Be sure to investigate the wide range of 401(k) types and plans. Look for one with an affordable base rate and additional pricing per-employee, rather than a hefty flat fee. In some cases, you may even be able to find a 401(k) partner that can cover all administrative processes, including compliance checking and record-keeping. While you’ll pay a little more for that convenience, it will save your HR team some time and leave your staff assured that their money is in good hands.

Plus, remember that while you don’t have to match employee contributions, you can reap some tax benefits if you do.

2. Expanded paid time off.

Some small businesses have embraced the trend of offering unlimited paid time off, or PTO. This is a strategy to appeal to workers who are worried about falling into burnout, a state which is believed to affect as many as three-quarters of employees.

But while it may seems like unlimited PTO is a given in many places, it’s not. U.S. News and World Report found that just four percent of firms offer that benefit. Offering unlimited PTO is not only a way to differentiate your company, but it is also a way to give employees the flexibility so many are craving today.

Now, it’s careful to make sure your unlimited PTO rules can’t be abused. Your team needs to know that performance must stay at a high level, and people can’t just take off without ensuring their work will be covered while they’re gone. Be sure to encourage team communication and effective delegation so that when your people go on a well-deserved vacation, their colleagues aren’t left in a difficult position.

3. Contribute to learning and self-care

Many companies encourage self-care and consistent improvement in their organizational culture. But many companies that attract the best talent take this a step further by investing money in their employees’ wellness and personal growth.

If you want your employees to be able to take care of their health, consider offering a stipend that can be used for a gym membership, yoga classes, workout equipment or meditation apps. If you put money behind these initiatives, you’ll really show current and prospective employees that you care about them holistically.

The same is true for learning and growth. Consider publishing a reading list and allowing employees to get reimbursed for books they purchase from it. Have a robust professional development budget to encourage your people to invest in their own growth. Remember, the best way to get a team that’s constantly building its capacity is to put money into that effort.

Your goal as a small business owner should be twofold. First, hire the best people you possibly can. Then, get out of their way so they can wow your customer base. And you can only complete your first mission by attracting current performers and future superstars. So dust off those benefits, get creative, and watch your employer brand soar.

Get connected with a First Midwest Bank Wealth Management Officer today. 

This article was written by Robert Glazer from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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