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4 Innovative Benefits That Will Help You Snag Top Talent Stop expecting exceptional candidates to jump for higher salaries. Instead, consider how to improve their quality of life.

By John Ruhlin Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Money no longer rules where talent will end up, a fact evidenced by news anchor Megyn Kelly's highly publicized exodus this past January from Fox News to NBC.

Related: Why Team Input Is the Key to Successful Benefits Planning

Fox reportedly offered Kelly $20 million to stay, but even those millions couldn't sway her from the siren song of family life. Her move shattered the long-held creed that elite performers only want bigger paychecks. Turns out that taking the kids to school and hanging out with family in general supersedes a colossal salary.

Kelly's tale presents a unique opportunity for companies operating on limited funds but wanting to snatch up talented recruits. In a word, they can use ingenuity to compete against wealthier startups without busting their budgets. The trick? The offer of some seriously innovative benefits.

The end of salary's reign

Want to hire amazing workers? Stop expecting exceptional candidates to buckle under the promise of money. Instead, seek the hidden motives and reasons that cause people to depart lucrative jobs. Employees, especially millennials, value being treated like humans instead of being bought off like commodities.

The "I have enough money; now I want a higher quality of life" mindset likely has its roots in the realities working parents face. Top performers in business want to be top performers at home, too, and that requires personal freedom, flexibility and control.

Businesses would do well to treat their employees like "intrapreneurs," or free agents, giving them the ability to make choices in their best interest both on the job and at home. This starts with a simple question: What do employees want for themselves but rarely take the time, energy, effort or dollars to pursue?

Related: How to Identify Intrapreneurs Within Your Company

Kelly's move helped prove that there's more to a good job than just a hefty paycheck. Here are four benefits to consider offering in order to snag that top talent:

1. Take home cleaning chores off their to-do lists.

Household cleaning keeps off-the-clock workers from fully enjoying their downtime. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women average nearly 16 hours per week on housework; men spend about 10 hours. Our company realized how this drag of housekeeping flattened employee motivation and morale, so we promptly instituted free housecleaning for everyone on our payroll.

This costs us a couple of thousand dollars per person annually. So, instead of putting that money into salaries, we invested it in an incentive that drives loyalty and inspiration. Are our workers the highest-paid on the planet? No. Yet they feel acknowledged and validated, not to mention loyal to our business's mission. Plus, they brag about their employer like crazy, which drives more talent our way.

2. Encourage gym rat tendencies.

A survey indicated that 77 percent of people have left or considered leaving a job because of stress. These results suggest that entrepreneurs can reduce turnover by reducing employee stress, which can be partially achieved through consistent activity.

Entrepreneurs should endorse fitness among their employees, but not by giving out wads of money. Any influx of money is apt to be directed to stressors in an employee's life, like unpaid bills. Directing the resource on behalf of the person works better.

Sign employees up at a modern, full-service gym, and pay for all personal training expenses. The upshot will be an energized workforce better prepared to mentally and physically handle day-to-day operations.

3. Support regular date nights.

Why do employees avoid date nights? The expense. notes that the average babysitter in the U.S. makes about $15 an hour. And that's not including the parents' other financial considerations, such as the cost of food, drinks and entertainment. Most parents would go out if they could get someone else to underwrite the expenses.

Our solution to this issue has been to reimburse workers for date nights. We require proof, including receipts for childcare, movie tickets, dinner or other activities. The company then compensates every penny. Employees appreciate our focus on helping them spend time with their significant others.

4. Make vacations mandatory.

Most employees receive some form of personal time as part of a standard benefits package. Some workers, however, like those at Netflix and LinkedIn, get unlimited vacation days or discretionary time off. Unfortunately, many individuals never use their vacation days, which hurts both them and their employers in the long run when they suffer burnout.

Make using vacation days mandatory, then, rather than just encouraged. Refuse to consider promotions for people who never take days off. This flies in the face of employees' expectations and illustrates a serious commitment to their mental health. As long as their work gets done, employees should have the independence to stretch their wings without remorse, allowing them to return refreshed and inspired.

Related: Here's Why Every Employee Should Have Unlimited Vacation Days

Which brings us back to Megyn Kellly: Her departure from Fox was a learning opportunity masquerading as headline news. When it comes to wooing and keeping top talent, entrepreneurs must offer the benefits modern employees really want -- such as the ones listed here.

John Ruhlin

Founder and CEO of the Ruhlin Group

John Ruhlin is an entrepreneur, international speaker and author of Giftology. More relationship and referral strategies can be found at Giver's Edge.

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