The Benefits Package, Reconsidered

BY: Jordon Geiger

In our line of work, we have the privilege of talking with business owners across a wide swath of industries about what each of them is experiencing. Sometimes, through those candid discussions, we are able to discover developing micro- and macroeconomic trends. Take our current environment, for instance. With Dane County unemployment at 2.3% as of March 2019, it is no surprise that there exists a dearth of skilled labor in the marketplace—a trend spanning numerous industries in the area. If you are a business owner, I’m sure you're already aware.

In discussing this issue with clients, it has been interesting to learn what some companies have done to stand out in a crowded field, all searching for those "unicorn" candidates—the ones with the skill set, experience, and passion that afford them the luxury of being able to choose among potential employers.

Check out these nontraditional perks that some of our clients have begun offering, to augment their benefits packages:

  1. On-site fitness centers
  2. College tuition reimbursement
  3. Daycare
  4. Wellness stipends
  5. Sabbaticals
  6. Gym memberships
  7. Work-from-home infrastructure
  8. Pay for volunteering
To attract top talent, we've also seen many companies use enhanced benefit programs, which go beyond traditional offerings, specifically for one or two select employees. Typically classified under non-qualified retirement plans, these types of packages are usually tailor-made on a case-by-case basis, and come in all shapes and sizes. Examples may include:

  1. Cash Value Life Insurance: Permanent insurance owned by the employee, with premiums paid by the company; cash accumulates in the policy and is “paid up” once a certain amount of premiums is paid.
  2. Rabbi Trust: An irrevocable trust that segregates plan assets for the benefit of the employee(s), but still allows creditors access to the funds if the employer becomes insolvent; all assets placed inside this type of trust grow tax-deferred until they are paid out to the beneficiary.
  3. Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs): Gives workers ownership interest in the company. 
In a 2016 poll by Glassdoor, 57% percent of job seekers cited benefits and perks among their top considerations in taking a new job. If you are trying to attract and retain top talent, you may want to look at some nontraditional benefit options to offer your employees.

Jordon Geiger

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