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Hiring? Here's How to Ensure You're Offering Benefits Top Talent is Looking For. Take these steps to ensure you don't miss out on hiring and retaining the best employees.

By Nate Schelhaas

entrepreneur daily
Shift Drive | Shutterstock

When I talk to small and midsize business owners about their recruit-retain challenges, I often think of an adage you've probably heard.

If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?

How does that apply to benefits? Well, if you're offering benefits that don't resonate with employees, will those benefits help you attract and retain employees?

The answer, of course, is no.

As an ultra-busy business owner, it's easy to make a set-it-and-forget-it benefits package. But, before you know it, it's outdated. That approach may have worked in the past, but today people's needs — and the workplace — constantly change.

Related: 5 Hiring Strategies You Should be Using in a Labor Shortage

More and more employees desire fully remote or hybrid situations. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Life expectancies have increased, leading to longer retirements. Current and potential employees want flexibility and adaptability.

Businesses are listening to that message about their benefits and their workforce. Nearly 70% of businesses have increased, or will increase soon, the quality of benefits they offer. And 65% have or will soon add benefits they don't currently have, according to Principal® research.

If you want to do the same to attract and retain top talent, here are three steps to get started.

1. Listen and adapt

So how do you even start to figure out if the benefits you have are the ones that employees want? And if they're not, what you can do about it? Listening is a good first step.

Related: 6 Factors That Determine How Much to Pay Remote Workers

For example, 47% of employers are interested in adding a benefit in the next 12 months, but nearly double that — 72% — of their employees would like an additional benefit in the next 12 months, according to Principal research. That's a huge perception gap, and one you can remedy through workplace surveys, Q&A sessions, and discussions with team leaders. You may discover that you're offering benefits no one wants, or that you already have options, such as an employee assistance program (EAP), that no one knows about or understands.

2. Get a clearer picture of cost

You may also not have an accurate picture of what the benefits that employees want really cost. Sometimes, rightsizing your packages may mean adding options that employees pay most, or all, of the cost. What you're really providing, then, is access so they can find the benefits they need most.

Take Bob's Red Mill, for example. Several years ago, the whole-grain foods company and Principal client added a suite of lifestyle benefits. Employees have access to tuition reimbursement, a scholarship program, and an adaptable vacation "bank." This robust package of benefits was in response to what employees indicated would make work a better, more enjoyable place to come every day.

Related: How Your Board Should Guide Your Hiring Practices

3. Review, compare, and adjust what you have

You can gain insights from regularly listening to your employees. You can also implement a consistent benefits package review, such as every year, that includes both the trends impacting benefits and what the competition is doing. Each piece of the puzzle will help you stand out in this very competitive hiring landscape. That way you'll ensure you're always offering the benefits employees want — and no tree ever falls in your workplace, unheard.

Learn from other businesses like yours at

Bob's Red Mill is not an affiliate of any company of the Principal Financial Group®

This subject matter is intended to be educational in nature and is not intended to be taken as a recommendation.

©2022 Principal Financial Services, Inc.

Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Company®. Plan administrative services offered by Principal Life. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., member SIPC and/or independent broker/dealers. Referenced companies are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.


Nate Schelhaas

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Senior Vice President of Life Protection Solutions for Principal®

Nate Schelhaas is a senior vice president and actuary­, head of life protection solutions at Principal®, a global financial investment management and insurance company headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, that offers small and midsize businesses, institutions, and individuals the benefits and retirement solutions they need to help build financial security.


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