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Going the Extra Mile for Employee Recruitment, Satisfaction, and Retention

By Tom Weber

May 23, 2023

The “great resignation” has continued for far longer than many had anticipated, with approximately 4 million Americans continuing to leave their jobs each month since April 2021. This trend persisted, even during the shaky economy of 2022, with the onset of a technical recession doing little to stop the turnover juggernaut.


Benefits packages are one of the key factors that can influence an employee’s decision to stay or go, which is why many companies have been beefing up their offerings in recent months. With the competition for exceptional talent remaining fierce, these five innovative benefits trends can act as powerful differentiators for companies that want to maintain an edge in recruiting and retention for 2023 and beyond.

100% Health Plans


It’s no secret that U.S. health care costs have risen dramatically in the past several years. According to a 2021 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, half of responding adults say expensive health care is a top financial worry and a burden on their families. To alleviate these negative outcomes and attract scarce talent, more companies have decided to pay 100% of monthly health care premiums for their employees. The decision to embrace 100% premium coverage, rather than the national average of 83%, can be an incredible differentiator in the eyes of candidates. Currently, this practice is more common in smaller firms than larger ones, with 29% and only 5% offering full premium coverage, respectively.

However, the perpetually tight labor market of the 2020s appears to be changing this equation, with many larger firms embracing 100% coverage plans in recent months. Although this can be a fairly expensive proposition, many think it is ultimately good for the bottom line because it boosts the physical and mental well-being of employees, increases engagement and productivity, and improves recruitment and retention.

Here are some key questions employers may want to ask themselves when considering a 100% paid health plan:

    • Will the company pay 100% for employee-only coverage or extend this benefit to spouses and dependents? It’s more common to see employers cover 100% of premiums for employee only, with other plan participants needing to buy up.
    • What about other aspects of a 100% plan design? While paying premiums looks good on its own, shifting costs to employees through increased deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums can undercut actual savings for plan users who think they are getting a good bargain.
    • How does the cost for a 100% plan compare with hiring a new employee? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey, the standard company-provided health care policy totaled about $7,739 for single coverage and $22,221 for family coverage. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the cost to attract, hire, and onboard a new employee averages $4,129. Depending on industry specifics and the severity of one’s turnover problem, paying 100% of premiums may or may not make financial sense.

Expanded Voluntary Benefits


You can’t please all the people all the time—unless you embrace voluntary benefits. Voluntary benefits, also called supplemental benefits, refer to optional perks offered to employees at a discounted group rate, which employers negotiate with providers. While employees still need to pay to use these benefits, the amount is typically far less than it would be without company subsidies.

These types of benefits give employees the chance to customize their benefits package to best suit their particular needs. Whether it’s affordable veterinary insurance for pet owners, subsidized pre-K child care for new parents, or discounted food delivery for the culinary-challenged, offering these types of policies can directly improve the quality of life of employees who choose to take advantage of them. These offerings can play a crucially important role in recruitment and retention strategies, with MetLife’s 20th Annual Employee Benefit Trends Study 2022 finding that 73% of employee respondents would stay at their current employer longer if they had a wider selection of benefits.

Holistic Leave for Caregivers


Since the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly normalized remote work for millions of U.S. employees, those caring for young children or elderly relatives have been particularly reluctant to work in positions that do not offer them the flexibility to tend to these important family obligations. The truth is that conventional employment models are simply not conducive to people with these types of responsibilities. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of caregivers, particularly young mothers, have chosen to leave the labor force entirely over the past two years rather than put up with unnecessary commutes, rigid schedules, and stingy leave policies. The past two years have proved that in-person employment and the conventional 40-hour workweek are not necessarily required to build high-performing teams, and companies worried about recruitment and retention have taken note.

The best way to satisfy this highly skilled demographic of workers is to offer holistic leave and flexibility policies that don’t make them choose between being good caretakers and good employees. Competitive companies are getting ahead of the curve by offering unlimited paid time off, build-your-own-schedule provisions, reduced hours for those with young children, and sabbaticals for tenured employees. Studies have found that being aggressive and experimental in this area is a great way to attract and retain talented workers who desire more agency in how they spend their days. For example, LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Report found that employees satisfied with their company’s time and location flexibility are 2.6 times as likely to report being happy and 2.1 times as likely to recommend their employer to others.

Scientific Approach to Benefits


Providing a solid benefits package is a great way to increase retention, boost recruitment efforts, and show employees they are valued. According to a 2018 study by Randstad, 42% of employees said they were considering leaving their current job because of inadequate benefits packages, while 55% had left jobs because they found better benefits or perks elsewhere. As an employer, it’s smart to know exactly what existing employees and potential hires want with regard to employee benefits. Because of this, data-driven benefits offerings are becoming more prevalent in the era of the great resignation, with internal employee surveys and external expertise being leveraged to improve offerings.

Conducting regular surveys is the most effective way to determine whether employees feel their wants and needs are being adequately addressed by current benefit offerings. In this regard, less can be more—consider adopting frequent pulse surveys with only a few questions rather than 20-page annual surveys. This sort of continuous employee listening strategy is excellent for measuring satisfaction and collecting feedback that can be addressed in real time. According to Qualtrics, this type of responsive action can make employees up to 12 times as likely to recommend their employer to others. By enacting a benefits strategy anchored in a scientific approach, employers can align offerings with larger business goals and maximize the impact of their benefits spend.

Personalization and Malleability


The U.S. workforce is currently home to five distinct generations working shoulder to shoulder. These different age cohorts have different needs, and it is difficult for a traditional benefits plan to give adequate attention and resources to everyone. This dynamic can push employees to decline offerings they personally do not want or need, which can effectively result in them forfeiting substantial monetary resources.

For example, a generous 401(k) matching scheme may not be as valuable to recent college graduates bogged down with student loans. Or a Gen X employee may choose to decline health care coverage because their spouse has a richer plan, resulting in the company spending much less on their benefits than for most other employees.

To combat this uneven distribution of benefits resources—and perhaps unintentionally ageist outcomes—employers may find it helpful to reconceptualize benefits as a malleable pool of resources that individual employees may allocate according to their specific needs. If a doctorate-holding baby boomer is unlikely to take advantage of a company policy that reimburses the cost of higher education, let them reallocate those dollars to attend an industry conference that piques their interest. If an employee has a few more years of coverage under their parent’s health insurance plan but is struggling to afford veterinarian bills, allow them to take the cost of their unused health benefits and apply it to caring for their furry friend(s). This personalized approach to benefits can effectively foster more equitable outcomes, boost employee morale, and broadcast a positive corporate culture.

To learn more about these topics and others, visit You can also connect with AICC Director of Education and Leadership Taryn Pyle at or Education and Training Manager Chelsea May at

  Tom Weber is president of WeberSource LLC and is AICC’s folding carton and rigid box technical advisor. Contact Tom directly at