As an entrepreneur building a tiger team, one of the most important investments you can make in your business is attracting and retaining top talent

The reality is that recruitment and retention grow ever more competitive, especially as remote work unlocks new horizons for today’s workforce. Strategic benefits planning is imperative for any high-growth small enterprise ready to separate itself from the pack.

From pet insurance to paid sabbaticals, let’s explore some compelling (and affordable) offerings that will help you win over exceptional candidates, increase employee engagement, and boost your bottom line through enhanced productivity and bountiful benefits.

A More Flexible Way of Thinking

Gone are the days of pensions, bare-bones healthcare, and gossiping around the water cooler in a cheerless office environment. 

The world-changing paradigm shift of the COVID-19 pandemic introduced millions of consumers to the many advantages of working from home — or the beach, their favorite cafe, or a secluded mountaintop cabin. 

Countless companies discovered that remote employees who put in longer hours were happier, experienced less stress, and were less likely to quit or join the Great Resignation

Staff bonding over WFH occurrences like cats crashing Zoom meetings and unruly children interrupting video conferencing opened the door for many businesses to lean into a “remote-first” mindset.

But as we power into 2024, many organizations now demand an end to home offices and a return to corporate parks. While most allow workers to adopt a hybrid schedule, some big brands want to return to an entirely on-site model.

That’s not necessarily the best move for your staff or your business goals. It’s crucial to communicate with your team, evaluate priorities, and determine which course of action most closely aligns with your strategic plan. Going fully or mostly remote not only lowers your overhead costs but also frees up funding for other cutting-edge employee perks

 The Wellness Wagon

Many professionals focus on losing weight, eating healthier, being more physically active, and striving for proper work/ life balance

Under the ACA, SMBs are required to offer health insurance if they have 50 or more employees. Many healthcare options are available for start-ups and smaller groups, and this is seen as a must-have benefit, with 51% of employees on the hunt for fully covered healthcare premiums.

In addition to a comprehensive and accessible medical/ dental/ vision plan, many employers are also luring top talent with wellness-oriented “fringe benefits” like flexible spending accounts (FSAs), employee assistance programs (EAPs), gym memberships, free massage/ acupuncture sessions, and health reimbursement arrangements, which is an IRS-approved way to provide tax-free funds to workers to help with the skyrocketing costs of quality medical care.

 Safe and affordable childcare is also a huge priority these days, especially for staffers who work on-site or need to travel regularly. The Employer-Provided Childcare Credit offers employers a tax credit of up to $150,000 annually to offset 25% of qualified childcare facility expenditures and 10% of qualified childcare resource and referral expenditures, per the Internal Revenue Service.

Higher education costs are also a big concern, with 76% of employees stating they’re more likely to stay in a position that offers a tuition reimbursement program. Roughly 43.5 Americans are bogged down by student loan debt, to the tune of $1.7 trillion, and many borrowers fear they’ll be paying off those bills until it’s time to collect Social Security. Small business owners who help lift some of that burden for their staff will see an increase in employee loyalty and retention.

In this volatile digital age, there is a strong movement toward prioritizing well-being and expanding skillsets organically. Owners who demonstrate compassion and genuine concern for their team make a smart investment for the future and encourage a long-lasting connection.  

Building the Framework

Of course, providing a robust retirement plan for your employees remains a top draw. Employer-sponsored retirement plans contribute heavily to a positive company culture, and 68% of workers say pension or retirement plans are a critical factor in staying with a job.

There are many benefits-related expenses you may be able to turn into tax deductions as a small business owner. Healthcare, HRAs, FSAs, paid family/ medical/ sabbatical leave, and retirement plans like IRAs and 401(k)s all provide entrepreneurs with valuable tax advantages and flexibility.

Smart financial planning is essential to the success of your venture, and staying informed and partnering with a highly knowledgeable advisor or tax professional will get you where you want to go. 

With almost 40 years of experience in the financial services sector, I’m perfectly placed to help you navigate the complexities of delivering best-in-class benefits to your staff — reach out to me today!