In the last few decades, we’ve seen an explosion of creative perks and benefits designed to attract each new generation of job seekers. And as much as these perks play a role in swaying a candidate’s final decision, it’s hard to ignore the number one reason that just about everyone shows up to work every day: the money. Research from Glassdoor confirmed this relatively unsurprising fact: job seekers listed salary as the most important factor when evaluating a job opportunity, with 67% listing it as a top factor. Whether a position is salaried, hourly, or even commissioned, potential applicants want to be compensated for their education, skills, experience, expertise and hard work.
In a perfect world, your company would have unlimited funds to pour into recruiting and retaining the best employees available. That, of course, would entail paying salaries that give your business a competitive edge over other businesses in your area.
But, naturally, not every company can pay top dollar. Most businesses pay average, fair salaries, and that’s okay, too… but these employers will sometimes lose a top candidate to a higher-paying competitor. Fortunately, there are other benefits you can offer to help you win over potential hires. While salaries took the top spot of importance, benefits weren’t far behind, with 63% listing them as a top deciding factor. From unlimited vacation to flexible work hours, here are four impactful, non-salary incentives to encourage applicants to accept your job offers:
1. Offer Meaningful Wellness Benefits
Wellness isn’t just a millennial buzzword! It’s a meaningful way of life in which health, fitness and peace of mind are valued… and what employee (and employer!) wouldn’t want that? After all, happy and healthy employees are more productive, take fewer sick days, and help create a more desirable company culture.
Corporate wellness looks different for every company. At Zappos, employees enjoy “Recess Tuesdays”, during which playground toys like seesaws and hopscotch are laid out in the plaza of the Las Vegas campus. Seventh Generation offers unlimited sick days, free wellness checkups, and on-site massages!
Of course, smaller businesses wanting to offer wellness perks will need to do so on a smaller budget. Just because your company cannot house a yoga studio on-site doesn’t mean you can’t hire an instructor to teach a private class to your employees once a month. Maybe you can’t give every employee a Fitbit, but perhaps you could do a raffle for one.
From subsidized gym memberships to no-questions-asked mental health days, showing your potential hires (and current employees) that you care about them can be enormously powerful. Create a corporate wellness program that fits your company’s culture and budget, and don’t be shy about sharing it with applicants throughout the hiring process.
While a wellness program is rarely incentive enough to secure a top hire, when combined with other benefits, it makes an attractive package that could help your company sign its preferred candidate.
2. Consider Unlimited Vacation
Modern companies like Netflix have popularized benefits such as unlimited vacation, which isn’t as scary as it sounds. How does unlimited vacation work? Well, mostly, it’s about trust. When a company offers uncapped days off to its employees, what it’s really signaling is that it trusts employees to make mature decisions about work-life balance. The best part about unlimited vacation is that it’s a flashy perk that doesn’t really cost all that much.
However, it doesn’t necessarily work for every company. Sometimes the “unlimited vacation” benefit can conceal a culture full of workaholics, where taking vacation time is implicitly discouraged. It really depends on the organization and what behaviors you'd like to incentivize. While unlimited vacation might seem scary, it's worth considering. It is a highly attractive job benefit that could help you score a hire that might’ve otherwise gone to a better-paying competitor.
3. Offer Excellent Health, Dental, and Vision Insurance
One study discussed in the Harvard Business Review reveals that candidates choosing between a higher-paying and lower-paying job can be swayed to select the latter if the right benefits are offered. Coming in first on that list is outstanding health, dental, and vision insurance. 88% of job seekers give this benefit some consideration, and 54% of job seekers give this benefit heavy consideration.
Of course, offering blue-chip health insurance is a bit more expensive than subsidizing a membership to a local gym. Employee-sponsored health care can cost around $15,000 per employee—and that’s a lot! For premier coverage, you’ll likely spend even more.
Still, talk to your insurance provider about how much it would cost to improve benefits for your business. You can also request information about adding specific coverage for expensive fertility treatment, an increasingly sought-after perk for today’s modern applicant pools.
4. Get Flexible About Where and When Employees Work
Providing top-notch insurance to your employees might not be in your company’s budget at the moment. Luckily, the second-most important benefit (according to the aforementioned study) won’t cost you a dime.
We’re talking about flexibility. In today’s modern landscape, work hours are not always so black and white, so nine-to-five. Employees might want to work from home a few days a week, or help out at their children’s school on Friday afternoons and work Saturday mornings instead.
88% of job seekers consider flexibility when weighing offers—the same amount that considers health insurance! While it is a bit less heavily considered (about 40%, compared to 54% for insurance), this benefit is essentially free to employers.
Similar to unlimited vacation, true flexibility is about trust. Do you believe your employees are capable of getting their work done even if they are not always in the office? Even if you are a little reluctant to implement full flexibility, you could dip your toes in such a program by offering employees one flexible workday per month.
Curious about what else matters to potential hires choosing between your job offer and one that pays a bit better? After better insurance, flexible hours, more vacation time, work-from-home options and unlimited vacation, job seekers value student loan and tuition assistance, paid parental leave, gym memberships, and daycare.
Lower on the list: free snacks and coffee, company retreats, and team bonding events. While these perks are nice to have, the trend is clear: job seekers want independence, respect, and flexibility—and they’re often willing to take a lower salary to secure them.