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Health insurance, gym stipends, PTO — standard benefits packages may not sound exciting, but candidates young and old depend on traditional perks to plan and manage their lives.

Health insurance, gym stipends, PTO — standard benefits packages may not sound exciting, but candidates young and old depend on traditional perks to plan and manage their lives. They need paid time off to see family and friends. They need health insurance to stay fit and financially stable in emergencies. The classic 401(k) doesn’t have the same curb appeal as unlimited PTO or a fat travel stipend, but as young people save more for retirement than their parents and grandparents did, a 401(k) may be the most coveted benefit of all.

Businesses of all sizes must now compete for talent with every industry. Clothing stores need tech-savvy developers; technology companies need suave customer service specialists. The best of the best get to be choosy about their employers, which means employers can’t afford to overlook the basics when creating benefits packages.

Benefits of a Small-Business 401(k)

Most big companies offer 401(k) services to employees, but small businesses can stand out and snag top talent by including financial perks in their plans, too. Even if you only have a few employees, consider the serious benefits of offering a small-business 401(k):

1. Higher Retention Rates

According to a study from MetLife, around 40 percent of employees name retirement benefits as a primary reason to stay with their current employer. When nearly half your workforce wants help with retirement savings, you can’t afford to ignore the need. Give your employees the 401(k) options they deserve, and they’ll reward you with longer tenures. Better employee retention leads to all sorts of positive outcomes, so don’t miss an easy opportunity to keep your team together, happy, and productive.

2. Tax Deductions

Employees who contribute to a 401(k) enjoy certain tax perks, but they aren’t the only ones. Businesses, too, can take advantage of preferential tax treatment by offering (and contributing to) employees 401(k)’s. Tax deductions make it easier for your business to offer a higher employee match, which could be the difference between landing a top candidate and losing that candidate to another employer. If you’re on the fence, remember that the money you spend on 401(k) contributions will cost less than the money you’d spend trying to fill an open position.

3. Financial Security

Many people, even people with good paychecks, struggle to save money. By offering a 401(k), you can take some of the burden off your employees by automating the savings process. They won’t miss money they don’t see, and as their savings accounts grow, they’ll feel more comfortable about their future. In times of hardship, employees can even borrow against their 401(k) balance, providing an extra lifeline for emergencies.

Once in place, your 401(k) plan will continue to pay dividends in both recruitment and retention. But not all 401(k) plans are created equal. It’s not enough to offer any old 401(k) with any old 401(k) provider — you have to vet potential deals and partnerships to find the right fit.

What Makes a Good Small-Business 401k Plan?

Today’s workers, especially young ones, have grown wise to fees in financial products. Millennials are far less likely to stick with a fee-happy bank than their Boomer parents, and the same mindset applies when it comes to 401(k) plans. Young workers want low fees, even if they have to hunt them down themselves.

Small businesses can offer 401(k) plans with low fees by vetting potential providers carefully. Some unscrupulous salespeople will try to push higher-fee plans on business owners who don’t know any better. Check out multiple providers, and ask to see the different investment options they offer. If all their funds start with fees above 1 percent, run the other direction.

Employees also want easy access to their money, even if penalties prevent them from withdrawing it directly. Find a 401(k) plan provider with a clean user interface and helpful customer service. When people can’t log in to view their investments and performance, they get nervous about what might be happening behind the scenes.

With the provider set, the best thing you can do as the employer is offer a contribution match. Doing so may hurt your bottom line initially, but with some companies offering no-match 401(k) plans, you’ll stand out through your commitment to your workers’ futures. With higher retention rates and a larger pool of eager candidates, you’ll more than make up for your short-term expenses in long-term gains.

Put kegs and pinball machines in the break room if you want, but don’t neglect the benefits that keep employees feeling secure. Your health insurance, PTO and 401(k) plans make up the foundation of your benefits package in employees’ eyes. Skimp on those, and you may have trouble convincing your biggest stars to stay.

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