Talent Acquisition

8 Employee Benefits to Help Startups Attract the Best Talent

By The Org

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

Explore some creative benefits startups can offer to attract top talent.

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash

In the current job market, companies often have to go the extra mile to attract top talent. The obvious method for drawing attention to a job opening is to offer a high salary. But for startups with a limited budget, they may not be an option. Instead, startups can compete with other employers by offering an appealing benefits package.

Let’s look at some creative benefits that will help you attract the right employees for your startup.

What Benefits Are Companies Required to Offer?

When discussing employee benefits, it’s worth mentioning that not all benefits are optional. Some are mandatory. In the U.S., employers are required to provide their employees:

  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Health insurance (for companies with more than 50 full-time employees)
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Family medical leave (for companies with more than 50 full-time employees)
  • Social Security and Medicare contributions

Other benefits may be required in certain states, such as sick leave or disability insurance.

What Benefits Can a Startup Offer to Attract the Best Employees?

Restricting your benefits package to only the benefits you’re required to offer will make it much harder to compete for top talent. Here are some ideas for additional benefits to consider.

1. Generous PTO Policies

Paid time off (PTO) combines vacation days, sick days, and personal days into a single pool of paid time off that employees can use at their discretion. This can be a great way to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, while unlimited PTO may seem like the ideal from an employee’s perspective, that’s rarely the case.

Employees with unlimited PTO often feel pressured not to take off more time than their colleagues, creating a self-regulating environment that discourages time away from the office. In fact, studies have shown that when companies provide unlimited PTO, their employees tend to take fewer days off than at companies with defined limits. And when employees with unlimited PTO do take more time off, it can provoke resentment from their coworkers.

With those facts in mind, consider setting a limit for PTO—just make sure it’s high enough to catch the eye of in-demand job seekers. In most industries, 25 days of PTO per year will do the trick. (Make sure to allow unused days to roll over to the next year, too.)

2. Health Insurance (and More)

Companies are only required to provide health insurance if they have more than 50 full-time employees on staff. Even if you don’t meet that standard, however, it may be a good idea to offer health insurance anyway. Most skilled employees will disregard a job offer from a company that doesn’t include health insurance in their benefits package.

Still, even with an employer-provided health plan, out-of-pocket expenses can add up fast. You can help your startup stand out from the crowd by offering further assistance for health costs. For example, Paytient lets employers offer deductible credits that employees can use to help cover their out-of-pocket medical expenses without adding interest or using their HSA.

3. Fitness Cost Assistance

For many startups, gym membership discounts and reimbursement programs are becoming standard. If a gym in your area offers discounted memberships for employees of local companies, that may be worth considering. Alternatively, you could reimburse employees for some or all of their gym memberships. Using this model, you can even fund a fitness program for remote employees.

You don’t have to limit your employees to membership at a traditional gym, either. You could also help them pay for:

  • Yoga classes
  • Pilates studios
  • Climbing gyms
  • Spin classes

Regardless, the purpose is to encourage employees to follow through on their health goals.

4. Practical Benefits

Working at a startup can be stressful and time-consuming. By making it easier for your employees to manage their basic needs, you can help take some of the strain out of their lives. This could mean offering:

  • Free food
  • Childcare services
  • Elder care
  • Laundry services

Partnering with local businesses to help provide these services can also open the door to stronger professional relationships in your community.

5. Office Perks

All work and no play is a recipe for stressed, exhausted employees. Somewhat ironically, giving your employees the option for some fun, casual leisure time will motivate them and help boost their productivity. Some common office perks include:

  • Free coffee and tea
  • Free snacks
  • On-site fitness center
  • Indoor running track
  • Recreation room
  • Massage services
  • Library

On-site “quiet rooms” are also a popular method for reducing employee stress levels. (Everyone needs a little time to recharge sometimes.)

6. Remote Work Options

Across all industries, jobseekers are increasingly prioritizing remote work when considering a position. Offering remote options is a surefire strategy for competing for top talent. You won’t have to sacrifice productivity, either. According to a study from Stanford University, employees who work remotely are 13% more productive than their in-office counterparts.

You can also support their remote work experience by providing a home-office stipend or work-related equipment, such as:

  • Laptops
  • Desktops
  • Office chairs

When in doubt, ask employees how you can help make remote work as convenient as possible for them.

Another great way to support remote employees is to create a public org chart for your company. An org chart will help remote workers:

  • See where they fit into the company
  • Understand how they’re contributing to the company’s growth
  • Feel more involved in the organization
  • Connect with coworkers over distances

7. Non-Salary Compensation

Higher salaries aren’t the only way you can pay employees more. Other forms of compensation include:

  • Tuition reimbursement
  • 401(k) contributions
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Various forms of insurance coverage

Just make sure you don’t subtract these benefits from employee salaries. Keep them as a bonus in addition to the employee’s regular income. Otherwise, it’s unlikely that even these benefits will entice many talented professionals.

8. Education

Educated, informed employees build strong companies. Giving employees the resources to further their education can be a true benefit for them and you. Plus, the IRS allows employers to write off education costs on their taxes—up to $5,250 per employee per year. For a growing startup, that’s a noteworthy amount of cash, and a worthwhile investment in employee education.

Optimize Your Benefits Package to Hire Better Employees

In a job market that gives employees ample leverage to pick and choose where they work, it’s more important than ever for startups to craft an appealing benefits package. By getting creative, you can stand out from your competitors and find the top talent your startup needs.

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