What Benefits Do Employees Really Want?


As a small business owner, the ideal situation is to recruit and retain top quality employees who feel satisfied with their work, positive about their pay, and have a desire to be long time contributors. You want them to feel loyal to your company and advocate for your small business. Individuals like these are the ones to get and keep! So how do you make that happen?

It’s All About Benefits

Studies indicate that there’s a reciprocal relationship between benefits and job satisfaction. MetLife’s U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Survey, which interviewed 1,510 company benefits decision-makers and 1,203 full-time employees in 2013, found that professionals satisfied with their benefits are more than twice as likely to also be satisfied with their work.

“In the 12 years we’ve been doing this study, employees consistently indicate that their benefits offering is an important reason why they choose an employer,” says Michael Fradkin, Senior Vice President of Markets and Growth Strategies with MetLife.

Benefits Equal Satisfaction

On the flip side, employees tend to be disgruntled if they are not offered benefits. Fox Small Business Center reports that half of small business employees said they are not satisfied with their current benefit plans. Those employees who are satisfied with their benefits tend to be more devoted to their employers (72%). A few things the employees surveyed said they valued were financial education programs and wellness programs, which employers actually found to be cost-effective (72%).

According to Entrepreneur, what employees really value, next to salary, is more basic perks. They want excellent medical insurance, including vision and dental. They want generous life insurance and retirement policies. Paid vacation, sick leave, and flexible schedules are in demand too.

Beyond Basic Benefits

If you’re interested in really going the extra mile for the employees you value, give some thought to what you would want if you were in their position. Is a foosball table and free soda really what would benefit your life? The following is a list of benefits that quality employees appreciate and seek out.

  • Telecommuting. While some companies have come around to allowing employees to work from home when the business allows it, many still won’t consider it. Companies that allow telecommuting – particularly when a staff member is slightly under the weather but can still work, or when someone needs to wait at home for a repair person or delivery – go a long way toward earning employees’ loyalty.
  • Professional development and training. As the economy has forced companies to do more with less, budgets for training and development have taken a hit. As a result, employees are often expected to produce more results without getting the adequate training they need. Professional classes, workshops, and seminars could help employees to learn the skills they need to take on new responsibilities.
  • Flexible schedules. Juggling work and home life is a tall task for anyone. Workers are increasingly looking for a non-conventional work schedule to accommodate the needs of their personal lives. Allowing workers to choose their own schedules, within reason, and under the condition that their work is performed at a high level, is a key way to attract and retain strong performers.
  • Good management. Nothing drives employees away faster than poor management. Managers who exhibit bad managerial behaviors like too controlling, not giving enough direction, unrealistic expectations, creating a climate of fear, just to name a few, will not keep good employees.  No matter how much a staff member likes their job or their company, if they have a bad relationship with their manager, it will overlap into their work life every day and eventually drive them to search for something else.


Employee benefits, in many forms, make workers feel valued, appreciated, and loyal – from health insurance, to flexible schedules, to paid time off, to working for a great manager, employees want to work for a company that makes them feel secure and satisfied. To attract and retain excellent people to represent your company, consider the types of benefits that employees truly value.

Zane Benefits is the leader in individual health insurance reimbursement for small businesses. Since 2006, Zane Benefits has been on a mission to bring the benefits of individual health insurance to business owners and their employees.

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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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