The Best Benefits to Offer Employees and Retain Talent

  • Employee benefits are key to hiring and retaining talent in today’s competitive labor market.
  • HR expert Sophie Theen suggests companies tailor their policies and culture to their employees.
  • Here are eight unconventional benefits million-dollar companies use to keep workers happy.
  • This article is part of Talent Insider, a series containing expert advice to help small business owners tackle a range of hiring challenges.

Last year, Nike introduced a new company policy granting all of its corporate employees a week off in August, deeming it “well-being week.”

While this type of company perk may seem appealing to replicate at your own company, benefits aren’t one-size-fits-all, said Sophie Theen, an HR expert, author, and leadership coach. Theen advises companies that are between their seed to Series B funding rounds to help them build their human resources and culture. She’s seen many startups make the mistake of trying to offer the same benefits that large companies do, prioritizing quantity over quality.

“We are so far from talking about traditional benefits to retain people,” she told Insider. “We’re talking about people-centric strategies.”

Although the US unemployment rate remains low and the quit rate remains high, small-business owners are seeing an increase in competition for talent. It’s important for entrepreneurs to take a people-centric approach to benefits to retain employees.

Theen suggests founders cater their offerings to what makes the most sense for a range of employees. For example, an employee in their 20s may care more about mentorship and career advancement than dental plans. Meanwhile, an employee in their 40s with children may care more about healthcare coverage and flexible hours than office perks.

If a company doesn’t cater to multiple age groups, “you really lose out on a slightly different generation,” Theen said. “Think about the benefits that actually work for every stage of their life.”

Small companies are uniquely positioned to offer creative benefits, because it’s easier to budget and get leadership’s approval, she said. Theen gave examples of effective policies she’s seen in her career working for and advising startups.

Here are eight policies and benefits that companies with millions of dollars in funding or revenue use to retain employees, based on Theen’s advisory experience and additional reporting from Insider.

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