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How small businesses can attract, retain a quality staff

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In today’s competitive hiring landscape, many businesses are forced to offer a substantial employee benefit package to compete for, attract and retain top talent.

These packages and perks often weigh heavily in the decision-making process of a candidate, making it difficult for small businesses to compete with larger companies when vying for the same talent.

It’s a candidate’s job market. Be sure your small business is ready to compete.

According to a Glassdoor employment confidence survey that ran in a 2017 Harvard Business Review article, “The Most Desirable Employee Benefits,” roughly 60 percent of respondents indicated that salary and perks are a major factor in deciding whether or not to accept a job offer.

No surprise there.

But this survey also found that 80 percent of new employees would choose additional benefits over a pay raise when accepting a new position, and this opens the door to opportunity in the realm of fringe benefits.

The reality is most companies can’t compete with Google- or Facebook-level perks such as free lunches, on-site massages, on-site dental care, valet parking or barber shops. So what health benefits and perks should a small business consider when it reviews the competitiveness of its benefits package?


A 2017 survey by Fractl that ran in the Harvard Business Review found that aside from health insurance benefits, employees placed a high degree of importance on perks that are relatively low cost to employers.

Examples worthy of consideration would be flexible hours, additional paid time off and an option to work from home.

This Fractl study was based on 2,000 U.S. workers from ages 18 to 81. A list of 17 benefits were given to each, and they were asked to weigh each option when deciding between a high-paying job and a lower-paying job.

Improved health, vision and dental insurance topped the list with 88 percent of the respondents indicating they would give these benefits consideration: 54 percent weighed in at heavy consideration and 34 percent indicated it was worthy of some consideration.


With the costs of health care on the rise, many small-business owners rationalize whether they can afford to offer insurance and what coverage to provide.

Below are just a few questions business owners struggle with when evaluating benefit decisions.

< Should you offer a vision insurance benefits package or a discount vision plan?

< Is your company eligible to buy coverage through an Affordable Care Act’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP exchange)?

< Is your business eligible for the small employer health care tax credit under the Affordable Care Act?

< What types of coverage should the benefits plan include?

A qualified benefits consultant can help answer these questions and tailor a plan to your specific needs and employee base. Carefully consider the various benefits consultant options and be diligent in your selection. Make sure your consultant is experienced working with multiple health care insurance companies and businesses similar in size to your company.


Also considered important in the Fractl study were benefits that offered work-life balance such as flexible hours, more vacation time, work-from-home options, tuition assistance and yoga classes.

These types of benefits can give your company an edge when a candidate is comparing your opportunity to one that offers a higher salary, but with fewer benefits.

Other low-cost employee-benefit considerations include wellness programs and health risk assessments.


Job perks and employee benefits can be traditional or high- or low-cost.

It’s a matter of thinking about your employees’ happiness and how that can translate to work outputs or a better work environment.

Consider out-of-the box creative solutions that keep employees loyal to your small business and promoting the value of the company.

Jim Gillen has more than 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry and is chief marketing officer at ESSA Bank & Trust. Based in Stroudsburg, he can be reached at jgillen@essabank.com.

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