For the past few years, the unemployment rate in the US has been decreasing. Today’s unemployment rate of 6.5% is over 3.3% points lower than just four years ago. With this economic growth, businesses today must be strategic in how they retain and hire top talent.
Today employees are in the driver’s seat. As tech blogger, John Boitnott said in his recent SAP article, “2014 is well positioned to be the year the economy shifts away from an employer-driven market and starts conceding to the demands of a newly revitalized, employee-driven market."
Employees are now looking for more than a salary — they are factoring in all of the employee perks associated with a position. To gain a better understanding of this current landscape, we took a moment with Mr. Boitnott to dive deeper:
AH: Two out of three new jobs in the US are created by small businesses. Do you see a difference in the types of employee perks a business provides based on the size of the company?
JB: The quality, quantity and the value of the perks a company offers is largely dictated by the size of the enterprise and the demographic that makes up its work force.
- Start-ups don’t have scale to offer the retirement plan caliber that more established businesses are able to. What Start-ups DO offer is attractive perks like ground-level stock ownership. It’s a risky prospect for sure, but young millennials who make up much of their workforce have better tolerance for risk, and the prospect of being shareholders appeals to this group that’s grown up on the legends about the early buy-in. And while a new venture will demand longer hours and fierce dedication, the perks include a looser dress code, a more informal work culture and (sometimes) free access to caffeine-rich refreshments.
- Small Businesses offer rudimentary versions of the types of perks larger corporations make available. For example, a smaller health care plan with a higher premium or a 401k plan, but with no company match. However, flex time is usually the big victim here. Small companies simply don’t have the “fill-in” resources available when someone needs time off.
- Large Corps can offer the most attractive menu of employee perks. Because of their large employee populations, they can more readily offer flex time, comprehensive retirement plans and sophisticated amenities like health club reimbursements, personal development and skills training, and liberal vacation time.
AH: Many businesses are now looking at more non-traditional perks such as BYOD and access to mobile apps for work. What are some examples of "innovative and enticing new features" you've seen?
JB: One big innovation to retirement plans is the so-called DIY 401k option or brokerage window. Employees are tired of the traditional limited fund choices available in any given company’s 401k plan. They’ve demanded - and received at a growing number of companies - the ability to invest in their own choice of funds by using this brokerage window.
Another interesting concept is the sabbatical based on work merit. Companies are tracking congratulatory memos, awards and other workplace kudos which, when combined with a length of service milestone, entitle the employee to several weeks away from the office, with pay.
AH: What perks that used to be a nice-to-have are turning into need-to-have for top talent?
JB: Flex time seems to be the most popular returning perk. Employees want the ability to balance work and personal time, including longer vacation time or more personal days and the ability to work from home. The second biggest nice-to-have is some program for self-development. Candidates, especially those who have been out of work, understand how important keeping their skills up-to-date is – and are demanding their employer participate at in their personal development some level.
Overall there is a drive to make the office a more efficient place when you must work there. This means making amenities like shopping, barbering, automotive maintenance – chores that typically pull employees away from the work place – available at or near the office, and at discounted rates.
AH: Thanks so much for speaking with us today.
JB: My pleasure.
Employee perks at your company
What perks do you provide for your employees? Free coffee, stock options, the ability to work from home? Here at Concur, we’ve heard from many of our clients that the fact they use Concur has become a hiring perk. Employees seek the ability to create and submit their expense reports from anywhere, anytime from their mobile device. Is your top talent wishing they had mobile expense reporting?
Take a test drive today with Concur and see how we can help make your business more efficient, and help you to gain and retain top talent.