Beyond Base Salary, Part 1: 7 Workplace Benefits That Attract Top Talent

Feb 8, 2024

When it comes to compensation, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is base salary —— the cash that an employee takes home based on their hourly or salaried pay rate. Jerry Wilkins, an Executive Vice President at Kimmel & Associates, explains, “For some candidates, base salary is the most important piece because it is guaranteed, so individuals and families can budget their year with confidence.” In many jobs, this is the only guaranteed compensation an employee can count on, so it’s often a key factor in deciding whether a candidate will accept or reject a job offer.

However, base salary isn’t necessarily the top priority for every candidate, so it’s not the only kind of compensation hiring managers should consider if they want to attract the best talent in the market. Below, Kimmel & Associates Executive Vice Presidents David Goodrum, Jerry Wilkins, Justin Wilkins, and Bill Wolfe; Market Leader David Williams; and Recruiting Manager Todd Chandler offer their unique perspectives on seven workplace benefits that have strong appeal for candidates in today’s market.

#1: Flexible, Hybrid, and Remote Work Options

When it comes to in-demand workplace perks, the results are clear: “A hybrid schedule is the number one perk my candidates ask for,” says David Williams. The days of working productively in the office are far from over; however, many candidates are prioritizing working environments where they can work remotely or adjust their schedules as needed to meet obligations and goals in their lives outside of the office. Not all companies or jobs are able to offer these kinds of options, but those who can are seeing results in their recruitment and retention processes.

#2: Short-Term Formulaic Cash Bonuses

“The best short-term cash bonuses,” says Justin Wilkins, “are formulaic and transparent.” Formulaic bonuses are tied to specific outcomes: “If I do X, then I will get Y.” In contrast, discretionary bonuses can be seen as “subjective” and cause “many great employees to feel undervalued,” Justin adds. So, candidates are especially drawn to opportunities where there are clear, guaranteed outcomes based on attainable objectives. Another option, Jerry Wilkins says, might be to have a guaranteed minimum bonus, especially in an employee’s first few years with the company as they learn the ropes and gain a solid footing in their role.

#3: Long-Term Incentive Plans (LTIPs)

Todd Chandler says that his candidates frequently ask about LTIPs. There are several different forms of long-term incentive plans (or LTIPs). In this article, we’re focusing on cash-based bonuses. (In the second article in this series, we’ll take a closer look at equity- or stock-based LTIP options.) These bonuses differ from short-term cash bonuses in that they are promised and delivered over a longer period of time, often tied to project or program milestones that span several years. This is a great way to keep employees engaged and focused on achievement over the long term. Knowing that the work they’re doing is building toward a long-term incentive can also prevent employees from pursuing opportunities with other companies, because they’re invested in earning what they’ve worked for.

#4: Company Vehicle, Auto Allowance, and Gas Card

Especially for jobs that include time on the road, offering a company car or auto allowance and gas card can be a strong sell for great candidates. From a practical standpoint, this type of benefit helps employees who travel or commute reduce wear and tear on their personal vehicles and save money on gas, which can add up to thousands of dollars in savings throughout the year. In addition, when cars are offered as a bonus based on achieving specific milestones, they can also serve as a status symbol and help employees feel special and celebrated for their accomplishments.

#5: 401k Match

A 401k with a company match is a straightforward benefit, but it’s not one that should be underestimated. Long-term financial planning can help employees be more engaged and less stressed over time. When companies offer to match a percentage of what each employee invests in these accounts, they encourage wider participation and show their support for their employees’ overall wellness and long-term success.

#6: Family Tuition and Tuition Reimbursement Programs

Many companies are seeing great success in employee recruitment and retention by offering tuition reimbursement programs. These programs can appeal to recent graduates who will be excited to offload student loan debt. However, as Bill Wolfe notes, they can also be designed to include families and children, supporting employees who have children headed off to college and those who are lifelong learners who want to continue growing and developing in their own education. Workplaces benefit from cultures that value learning, and these programs are a great way to show employees that the company does just that.

#7: Healthy Company Culture

Last but certainly not least, David Goodrum suggests keeping it simple: Want great people to join your company? “Don’t be a jerk,” he jokes. More seriously, he adds, “Create a culture that people are attracted to, want to join, and feel like they’re missing out on if they don’t.” By having a working environment where employees feel valued, with supportive professional relationships and challenging and meaningful work, is perhaps the best way to consistently recruit and retain great employees for long-term, successful employment.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 in our Beyond Base Salary series, in which we’ll cover our top three workplace benefits that can help draw in top talent.

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