Magnetic benefits: low-cost ways to attract and retain your employees.

Author:Baughman, Deborah L.
Position::Human Resources

Attracting and retaining top-notch employees requires offering compensation, benefits and training and development opportunities in a new way. Here are some low-cost alternatives:

Improve workplace morale: Give your employees more control over work schedules through flexible work arrangements, telecommuting, job sharing or buying/selling paid time off. Provide access to services such as dry cleaning pick up and delivery, car detailing or a company concierge. Offer free flu shots and cholesterol screening. Send a message of appreciation with pizza days and other fun events or with tickets to sporting events or movies. More expensive benefits include on-site or near-site daycare, breast-feeding rooms, emergency child-care arrangements and on-site fitness centers.

Recruiting: Offer signing bonuses, received after a probationary period, for rank-and-file employees. Offer new employees a clothing allowance. If you recruit outside the United States, provide assistance with immigration issues.

Retention tools: Reduce taxes for both yourself and your employees by providing any of the following programs, either through a cafeteria plan or standing alone: (1) An educational assistance plan with a tax-free tuition reimbursement for undergraduate or work-related courses up to $5,250 per year. (2) A dependent-care assistance plan allowing employees to set aside up to $5,000 of pre-tax dollars to pay qualifying dependent care expenses. (3) A flexible spending account permitting employees to set aside pre-tax dollars to reimburse them for medical expenses not otherwise covered under the main medical plan. If not provided through a written plan, these perks are generally taxable to the employee.

Insurance: Through group purchasing power, offer insurance or prepaid coverage at lower costs than your...

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