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Employee benefits strategies: 5 budget-friendly ideas

Group of employees smiling while they work at the same table discussing employee benefits strategies.

Retirement and employee benefits help create a solid foundation for recruitment and retention. They’re also pivotal in enhancing job satisfaction, boosting productivity, encouraging employee well-being and increasing workplace morale. With the work landscape evolving rapidly, organizations are revisiting their offerings to develop stronger employee benefits strategies. 

The first area most small- and mid-size employers investigate is quick, short-term ways to foster company culture. In this blog, we’ll cover budget-friendly ideas to improve your employee benefits initiatives. Think of them as smaller action items that can help you gain a competitive edge. Then, we’ll take a closer look at how customizing your benefits plan can support your new efforts. 

1. Promote a healthy work culture 

Investing in employee benefit plans is not just about fulfilling a checklist. It's about creating an environment where employees feel supported in both their professional and personal lives. Benefits such as unlimited vacation days and remote work options cater to the growing demand for work-life balance and play a pivotal role in promoting employee health and reducing burnout. Many wellness programs can promote a healthy work culture at little or no expense: 

  • Conduct regular health awareness sessions covering topics like stress management, nutrition or the importance of regular exercise. 

  • Organize group walks or runs during lunch breaks to encourage physical activity. 

  • Dedicate areas within the office for relaxation, e.g. designated spaces in break areas. 

  • Provide access to healthy snacks and beverages. 

  • Create a company team for a local sports league.  

  • Set up activities or events that allow coworkers to interact in new spaces. 

  • Try team or trust-building exercises.  

Implementing such simple initiatives can translate to a healthier and happier workforce, reducing absenteeism and increasing motivation.  

To take this a step further, there are long-term initiatives that you can add to your employee benefits plan. Organizations can provide resources through their group health plans for counseling, fitness and health reimbursement and workshops. Themes covered may include mental health benefits, maintaining a healthy work-life balance or stress management.  

When you combine low- to no-cost initiatives with an improved employee benefits plan, you create a better environment to support recruitment and retention. Employee benefits programs that include a range of options — from flexible work hours to mental health assistance — address multiple aspects of employee health and wellbeing.  

Benefits such as mental health support and flexible working arrangements are increasingly becoming non-negotiable for job seekers. Attractive employee benefits contribute significantly to an individual's decision to join or stay with a company. 

Female employee crossing her arms in the office.

2. Highlight employee opportunities 

Retention increases when employees are aware of the benefits and services available to them. It fosters transparency and trust, allowing employees to use their skills, experience and motivation to their fullest potential.  

Employees place a high value on growth and learning opportunities. Employers can leverage existing resources in their organization or community for professional development — without the added expense. Ideas include liaising with local libraries, hosting cross-functional seminars or encouraging job shadowing within the company. It's all about using existing resources to foster a culture of continuous learning. 

Online tutorials and free webinars platforms provide an array of education without a monetary layout. Encouraging participation in these resources can demonstrate a commitment to employees’ long-term success. 

3. Implement casual, "perk" or summer Fridays 

Implementing organizational perks is a quick way to stand out from other employers and a value-add to current employees. Not all organizational benefits have to cost a lot. Two popular low- to no-cost options include casual Fridays or perk Fridays: 

  • Casual Fridays: This is a low-hanging fruit that can significantly boost morale, though it’s important to provide guidelines to avoid misinterpretation. For example, if your company’s dress code is formal, you could allow employees to dress business casual. If your office is currently business casual, you may want to consider a day for smart casual attire.  

  • Perk Fridays: These are days when employees get an extra perk like the option to work remote, free breakfast or snacks or getting to leave work early. Some companies provide Summer Fridays, where they allow employees to leave a few hours early. Usually, this lasts from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Other companies offer compressed workweeks, where employees get to take Friday off if they hit a set number of working hours. 

You can include additional bonuses in your employee benefits plan like telemedicine benefits, identity theft coverage, financial literacy and legal plans. By tailoring benefits to employees' needs, you show that you’re invested in their personal well-being and work-life balance. 

Woman teaching class.

4. Communicate values 

Adapting your workplace to focus on sustainability and inclusion can have both internal and external benefits. Simple yet powerful measures can significantly improve the workplace environment, including:  

  • a recycling program; 

  • an employee mentorship program; 

  • employee-led resource groups, award committees and strategic planning panels; 

  • ensuring all technologies and workspaces meet accessibility standards; and 

  • encouraging diverse cultural celebrations. 

You can use these ideas to better align employee goals and organizational objectives. While these ideas are a starting point, there are many additional strategies that focus on inclusion and improvement. You'll want them to foster a sense of ownership to connect individual contributions to the broader organizational strategy. 

Align your employee benefits plan design with your organizational strategy. Many employers are surprised to learn that tailoring your benefits can create and maintain employee buy-in. Strategic alignment is one way to get employees to commit to a long-term future with an organization. TruePlan’s team of experts can help you accomplish this.  

The ability to personalize benefits allows employees to tailor their benefits plan to their individual life stages and needs. Recognizing the importance of offering benefits that complement the lifestyle and priorities of the workforce can lead to more engaged and motivated employees. 

5. Provide benefits education 

According to MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends Study, "62% of employees say understanding how to use their benefits would give them a greater sense of overall stability while 50% say having a better understanding of their benefits — what’s offered and what’s covered — would make them more loyal." 

MetLife reported that "Nearly one-third of employees (31%) procrastinated when selecting their benefits last year, and 37% wish they’d had more time to make the right choices. This comes as one in six employees regret their benefits elections from last year." 

To prevent confusion and build a more confident workforce, employers need to better train their employees on their benefits. They should build strong benefits communication strategies that include educating employees on the following: 

  • Voluntary benefits: If you offer voluntary benefits, you know they’re a great way to enhance your employee benefits package, differentiate yourself from competitors and increase employee satisfaction — all with little impact on your budget. When educating employees and prospective employees on your voluntary benefit offerings, highlight the advantages of being covered and the potential risks of being uninsured. Additionally, underscore the convenience and value of purchasing coverage through the company and utilizing payroll deductions for payment. 

  • Health benefits: Employers are responsible for educating employees about the health coverage options they offer. Though it’s a requirement to provide specific information and documentation, organizations can take this a step further. Try hosting coffee hours, group information sessions and supplying timely reminders. 

  • Life insurance: This type of coverage is often overlooked by employees. Employers can yield a higher enrollment and increase employee loyalty by educating employees about life insurance. Focus on the basics of life insurance coverage, starting with the main types of coverage and the benefits and drawbacks of each. From there, you can continue to provide materials or information on your coverage options. 

  • Open enrollment: Many employees, especially younger ones, find open enrollment confusing. Employers who effectively communicate on open enrollment find increased employee satisfaction with higher contentment with their employee benefits packages. Clear internal communication and educational resources are two of the easiest ways to provide year-round assistance. 

TruePlan has an extensive resource library that includes materials that you can use in your education efforts. You can also contact us to inquire about specific materials or educational resources regarding employee benefits. 

Why employee benefit plan strategies work 

Employers are increasingly turning to innovative and creative solutions to offer valuable benefits to their employees, even with limited resources. By focusing on the needs of the workforce, these strategies can create a more engaged and satisfied workplace, demonstrating that a competitive benefits package is within reach for organizations of all sizes. The true value of employee benefits does not always hinge on their cost but on their ability to recruit and retain top talent. 

If you have questions on where to start, TruePlan's team of experts can help. Explore our current employee benefits services and retirement plan options. Then, contact us to get the best solutions for your needs. 

This content is for informational purposes only. It has been partially generated from an AI language model, which may not always be exhaustive or tailored to individual circumstances. We encourage you to contact one of our experts for more information.  We assume no liability arising from any use of this content. 

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