The Growing Importance of Employee Benefits in Talent Recruitment and Retention

September 18, 2023


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Non-Traditional Employee Benefit Trends Cover Flexible Work Arrangements, Student Loan Relief, and Pet Insurance

In today’s competitive job market, employee benefits are more important than ever before. They can be a key factor in attracting and retaining top talent, and they can also help to improve employee satisfaction and productivity.

The gap between what employees want and what employers think they want is widening. For example, employees are increasingly interested in non-traditional benefits such as flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, and pet insurance.

HR and payroll software can help companies automate many of their benefits offerings, which can save time and money. This can free up HR professionals to focus on other tasks, such as developing and implementing new benefits programs rather than merely administering existing ones.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of employee benefits, the gap between what employees want and what their employers think they want, the latest trends for new non-traditional benefits being offered by companies, and how HR software can help companies automate their benefits offerings.

Offering Industry-Leading Employee Benefits Can Elevate the Status of a Company

Industry-leading benefits are those that are above and beyond what is typically offered by other companies in the same industry. They can include things like generous paid time off, comprehensive health insurance, and tuition reimbursement.

There are many reasons why industry-leading benefits can elevate the status of a company when it comes to talent recruitment and retention.

First, they can help to attract top talent. When job seekers are considering different job offers, they will often factor in the benefits package. A company that offers industry-leading benefits will be more likely to attract top talent and stand out from the competition.

Second, industry-leading benefits can help to retain employees and reduce turnover. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers them good benefits. This can save the company money in the long run, as it is more expensive to hire and train new employees than it is to retain existing employees.

The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary according to a study by Gallup.

Finally, industry-leading benefits can improve employee productivity and engagement. When employees feel valued and supported by their employer, they are more likely to be productive and engaged in their work. This can lead to increased profits for the company.

In conclusion, industry-leading benefits can have a number of benefits for companies. The latest employee benefit trends in the job market allude to this point as we have seen. They can help to attract top talent, retain employees, improve productivity and engagement, and reduce turnover. As a result, companies that offer industry-leading benefits can elevate their status in the market and improve their bottom line.

There Is a Gap Between the Benefits Employees Want and What Employers Think They Want

The gap between what employees want and what employers think they want is a significant problem, especially for frontline employees. A study by McKinsey & Company takes a close look at this phenomenon. According to the study, Frontline employees are identified as those hourly workers who primarily contribute individually and make less than $22 per hour in select industries. Many of them are not getting the resources or support they need to advance their careers.

The study emphasizes that “job growth” and “learning opportunities” were listed as the top and third in-demand career advancement needs, respectively, by employees taking the survey. Among frontline employees, 73% cited a manager who supports their career progression as key to career advancement.

However, employers often fail to prioritize the job attributes that are most important to frontline employees. For example, while frontline employees place a high value on pay, employers tend to focus more on vacation and sick time. Additionally, employers often emphasize a higher job title, which is not as important to frontline employees as job growth and learning opportunities.

This lack of alignment between what employers offer and what employees want can be a major barrier to employee satisfaction and advancement. Frontline employees who feel like their needs are not being met are more likely to be disengaged and less productive. They are also more likely to leave their jobs for a company that offers them what they want.

Employers can address the needs of their frontline workforce by taking steps such as:

  • Providing clear career paths and development opportunities.
  • Offering competitive wages and benefits.
  • Creating a positive and inclusive work environment.
  • Listening to and valuing frontline feedback.
  • Empowering frontline employees to make decisions and take ownership of their work.
  • Offering innovative employee benefits such as flexible work arrangements, access to mental health resources, and tuition reimbursement

By taking these steps, employers can show their frontline employees that they are valued and appreciated. Planning for these steps should start before the recruiting phase. This can go a long way in improving employee satisfaction and retention.

The Innovative Employee Benefits Companies Are Offering to Compete for Talent

Companies are increasingly offering innovative benefits to attract and retain top talent. These benefits go beyond the traditional offerings of health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans. The latest benefit trends include the offering of:

  • Pet insurance: Companies are offering pet insurance to help employees cover the cost of unexpected vet bills. This can be a great benefit for employees who have pets.  49% of Gen Z’s and 45% of Millennials say that offering pet-related benefits would influence them to stay at their current job or look for one that does.
  • Student loan relief: Companies are offering to help employees pay off their student loans. This can be a huge financial burden for many employees, so it can be a very attractive benefit.  A study by the ASA (American Student Association) found the 86% of employees would commit to a company for five years if the employer would help them pay their student loans.  That’s a big incentive in attracting AND retaining an employee.
  • Lifestyle discounts: Employees are looking for experiences. Companies are offering discounts on a variety of goods and services, such as hotels, events, and entertainment. This can help employees save money and enjoy their lives outside of work.
  • Free Food: In a survey of 1000 employees, 10% said they would give “heavy consideration” to taking a lower paying job that offered free snacks versus one with higher pay.  And a USA Today survey found that job satisfaction went from 56% to 67% when free food was in the mix. An added benefit to employers is that free lunches and snacks tend to keep employees in the building and at their desks.
  • Flexible work arrangements: Companies are offering flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and flextime. This can give employees more control over their work-life balance.  The four-day work week is also a trending benefit.
  • Tuition reimbursement and continuing education programs: Companies are offering tuition reimbursement and continuing education programs to help employees learn new skills and advance their careers. This can be a valuable benefit for employees who want to stay ahead of the curve.  Learning opportunities statistically continues to be a top desire of most employees and the number one way they say they want to be engaged at work.
  • Mental wellness programs: Companies are offering mental wellness programs to help employees cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. This is a growing trend, as more and more employers realize the importance of employee mental health. 81% of workers indicated they would prioritize workplaces that actively support mental health according to a survey by the American Psychological Association.

Other innovative non-traditional benefits include things like generous parental and family leave policies, fertility assistance, kid’s college assistance, corporate wellness and fitness programs, company-sponsored LGBT events, paid days off for religious holidays, money management, financial planning services, …etc.

These benefits can be a great way to attract, recruit, and retain top talent. They show employees that the company cares about their well-being and is committed to their success.

New HR and Payroll Software Allows Companies to Automate Their Benefits Offerings

New HR management and payroll software platforms are making it easier for companies to automate their benefits offerings. This can save time and money, and it can also help to improve accuracy and compliance.

These software solutions can automate a variety of tasks related to benefits, such as:

  • Enrolling employees in benefits plans
  • Calculating benefit premiums
  • Processing benefit claims
  • Generating benefit reports
  • Communicating with employees about their benefits

By automating these tasks, HR departments can free up time to focus on other strategic initiatives. They can also improve the accuracy and efficiency of their benefits administration.


In conclusion, employee benefits are an important part of attracting and retaining top talent. By offering a competitive benefits package, employers can show their employees that they are valued and appreciated.

There are a variety of benefits that companies can offer, including traditional benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans, as well as innovative non-traditional benefits such as lifestyle discounts, student loan relief, and pet insurance.

New HR management and payroll software technology can help companies automate their benefits offerings, which can save time and money, and it can also help to improve accuracy and compliance.

By offering a creative benefits package and using automation to streamline the benefits administration process, employers can create a workplace that is appealing to a wide range of employees.

How Commonwealth Payroll & HR Can Help:

No matter how complex or how many different benefits or benefit plans you offer your employees, we can customize our all-in-one, easy-to-use HR platform to streamline and automate your benefits program and open enrollment periods with direct carrier connectivity and built-in extra’s like ACA compliance.  Contact us today to learn how.


*The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general informational purposes only. Information in this article may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This article may contain links to other third-party websites provided only for the convenience of the reader.

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