Tips And Tricks To Determine What You Can Afford For Employee Benefits

Tips And Tricks To Determine What You Can Afford For Employee Benefits

In an increasingly competitive job market, providing comprehensive employee benefits is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for businesses to draw in and maintain top-tier talent. Real challenge lies in striking a balance between affordability and the benefits that truly add value to employees' lives, while ensuring these benefits align with the company’ financial boundaries. It's like walking a tightrope - you want to balance just right. On one side, you have the need to provide competitive benefits to keep your team happy and motivated and on the other, there's the reality of your budget.

That's where this article comes in. We've packed it full of practical advice, real-life strategies, and easy-to-follow steps. We'll help you figure out exactly what you can afford to offer your employees in terms of benefits, without putting your financial stability at risk. So, buckle up and let's dive right in.

Understanding Employee Benefits

When we talk about employee benefits, we're not just discussing extra cash in the paycheck. We're referring to the little (and big) extras that companies offer their employees, things that aren't straight-up wages. We're talking about benefits such as a comprehensive package that covers various aspects of an individual's life - from health and well-being to financial stability in their twilight years.

Consider health insurance, for instance - it's like an invisible shield that comes to your rescue when life throws a curveball in the form of a sudden illness or an unexpected health crisis. Without this safety net, employees could face significant financial burdens that could affect their quality of life.

Then there's the retirement plan - a promise of financial security when the individual decides to hang up their work boots. For many, a good retirement plan is a light at the end of the long tunnel of working years, allowing them to look forward to a future where they can enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Next in line is the much-needed paid time off (PTO). Everyone needs a break to recharge and rejuvenate, and PTO provides employees with an opportunity to rest without worrying about their financial income. It's an essential aspect of work-life balance and employee wellbeing.

And let's not forget about childcare support - an absolute lifesaver for working parents juggling their professional responsibilities and parental duties. Providing childcare support not only helps reduce stress for working parents but also demonstrates a company's commitment to its employees' personal lives.

These benefits might seem like just a nice add-on, but the reality is, they're much more than that. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a whopping 92% of employees said that these benefits are key to their job satisfaction. That's right, nearly all employees feel that these benefits play a pivotal role in making them happy at work. That's something every employer needs to keep in mind while structuring their benefits program.

Assessing Your Financial Capacity

Alright, let's talk about money. Setting a budget is where you have to start. It's like planning a road trip—you can't just hit the road without knowing how much gas you can afford. In the same way, you have to know how much of your company's overall budget you can comfortably dedicate to benefits.

To give you an idea, most U.S. companies spend about 31.7% of their total compensation costs on benefits. That's nearly a third of their entire compensation budget! So, as a starting point, you could consider setting aside a similar portion for benefits. But remember, this is not set in stone, and you should adjust this percentage based on what your company can truly afford.

Next up is looking into the future. No, I don't mean getting out a crystal ball—I mean forecasting future costs. It's not just about what you can afford right now, but also what you'll be able to afford down the line.

Consider this: in 2022, the average cost of health insurance per employee was $15,375. That's no small change. What's more, this figure isn't static—it's expected to increase by 5.3% in 2023. That means you need to factor in these increasing costs in your budget. It's like planning for a trip and considering the rising gas prices—you want to make sure you won't run out of gas halfway through.

So, setting your budget isn't just a one-time thing. It's a process that involves carefully considering your current situation and planning for future changes. It might seem tricky, but with a little bit of thought and planning, it's definitely doable!

Strategic Selection of Benefits

Health Insurance

When it comes to employee benefits, health insurance is definitely the star of the show. Think of it as the headlining act at a music festival. It's no small feat that a massive 88% of employees highlight it as crucial. Let that sink in—that means nearly 9 out of every 10 employees deem health insurance as significant. Therefore, if you're contemplating which benefit should be a priority, health insurance indisputably takes center stage.

Let's be honest here—health insurance can be quite the expense, somewhat akin to wanting a luxurious vacation on a dreamy island, but realizing it could seriously dent your savings. However, there's no need for panic because there's a viable solution at hand — group health insurance plans.

These plans are somewhat like a wholesale purchase — the larger the quantity, the better the value. When you extend a health insurance offer to your entire team as a collective, the cost-effectiveness generally increases. The benefits you offer are the same, but you're getting them at a discounted rate compared to individual insurance plans. So, it's a win-win—you're able to provide a benefit that is highly valued by most of your employees, and you can do so without jeopardizing your financial stability.

Remember, though, that the type of health insurance you offer should align with your employees' needs and your budget. It's like shopping for that vacation — you might not be able to afford the 5-star luxury resort, but there's likely a cozy, comfortable hotel that fits your budget and still offers an enjoyable experience. Similarly, you might not be able to afford the most high-end health insurance plan, but there are plenty of options out there that can provide valuable coverage to your employees at a price that fits within your budget.

Retirement Plans

Picture this: you've had a long, fulfilling career and now you're ready to hang up your work hat and retire. But retirement isn't just about bidding goodbye to your 9-to-5. It's also about financial stability in your golden years. And that's where a good old 401(k) plan or similar retirement plan comes into play.

A 401(k) plan is like a savings piggy bank for your employees' future. Every paycheck, a portion gets set aside in this plan, which grows over time and offers a solid financial cushion for when employees are ready to retire. The best part? You, as the employer, get to contribute to this piggy bank too.

As per the numbers from 2021, employers were contributing an average of 4.7% of an employee's pay to their 401(k) plans. Now, that might not seem like a big number, but remember, this is something that keeps growing over the years. It's like planting a seed and watching it grow into a sturdy tree. Over time, this small contribution can make a big difference in your employees' retirement fund.

So, if you're looking to add another star player to your benefits package, a well-structured 401(k) plan might just be the ticket. It's not just a benefit—it's a long-term investment in your employees' futures.

Paid Time Off (PTO)

Okay, let's switch gears and talk about something everyone loves — time off. Yep, you heard me right. We're talking about those precious days where employees get to say 'out of office' and mean it. They're an absolute necessity for everyone to unwind, recharge and come back with renewed energy.

Now, let's talk numbers. On average, employers in the U.S. give their employees 10 glorious days of paid vacation after they've completed one year of service. Imagine that — 10 days where employees get to chill out without having to worry about a dip in their income. Sounds pretty neat, right?

But here's the thing — you don't have to stick to the average. One way to make your benefits package more appealing is by offering flexible PTO policies. Think of it as a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ kind of situation. Employees get to decide when they need a break, giving them a sense of control and improving work-life balance.

Sure, as an employer, you might worry about everyone deciding to take a vacation at the same time, but in reality, that's rarely the case. Plus, with a bit of smart planning and coordination, you can ensure that work doesn't come to a halt.

In a nutshell, a flexible PTO policy can be a powerful tool in your arsenal to enhance employee satisfaction. After all, who doesn't love some well-earned time off?

Childcare Support

Let's delve into a benefit that's intrinsically linked to the mission of Early Learning Ventures - childcare. At the end of the day, offering child care assistance goes beyond just helping out your employees—it's about creating a nurturing atmosphere that recognizes and appreciates the hurdles that come with being a working parent. This isn't just a move, it's a strategic masterstroke that could revolutionize the way your employees view their work-life balance.

On average, parents shell out somewhere between $9,100 to $9,600 a year for childcare. That's a considerable chunk of change! It's like planning for an exotic vacation each year, but instead of sipping cocktails on a beach, parents are ensuring their children are well taken care of while they work.

This is where Early Learning Ventures can step up the game. By offering childcare benefits—even if it's just partial assistance—you can significantly ease the burden on your employees with children. It's like giving a relief package that makes their everyday life a bit easier.

Imagine the peace of mind it would offer your employees. No more worrying about the quality of care their children are receiving or how they're going to juggle work with picking up their kids from daycare. They'd be able to focus more on their work, knowing their little ones are in good hands.

In the end, providing child care assistance is not just about supporting your employees—it's about fostering a supportive environment that acknowledges and values the challenges faced by working parents. It's a strategic move that could prove to be a game-changer for your employees, and in turn, for Early Learning Ventures.

Implementing Cost-Saving Strategies

Voluntary Benefits

Imagine these benefits as the bonus features on a streaming service. They're accessible, ready to be enjoyed, but it's completely up to your employees to decide if they want to unlock them and bear the cost. As the employer, you're just the streaming service provider - the one laying out these bonus features.

Now, you might be thinking, "Sounds like a lot of work," but here's the good news - while you'll need to handle the logistics of setting these benefits up, it won't cause your business's expenses to spike. Think of it like hosting a potluck dinner - you provide the space, but everyone brings their own dish. Your employees get access to a wider range of benefits, and your business gets to offer these perks without any additional cost. It's a classic win-win situation!

Wellness Programs

Promoting employee wellness isn't just about being a considerate employer. Believe it or not, it could actually be a smart money move. Just like investing in a good maintenance plan can save you on hefty car repair costs down the line, investing in employee wellness can potentially trim down your health insurance expenses in the long haul.

Think about it this way—healthy employees typically equate to fewer health risks. Fewer health risks mean fewer insurance claims, and fewer claims could translate to more manageable insurance premiums. It's like a domino effect, where one good choice can lead to a cascade of benefits.

So, how do you encourage wellness? It could be as simple as initiating a weekly fitness challenge, offering free yoga classes, or even bringing in nutritionists for a seminar. Not only do these initiatives promote healthier lifestyles, but they also show your employees that their well-being matters to you. Plus, let's not forget the potentially substantial savings on health insurance in the long run—a win-win if there ever was one!

Professional Development Opportunities

Tossing out training or education reimbursements isn't just about buffing up your employees' skill sets. It's like adding a secret ingredient to your workplace recipe that sparks a culture of continuous learning, boosts job satisfaction, and cranks up employee retention.

Think about this—you've got an employee who's keen on taking a project management course. By offering to cover part or all of the cost, you're not just helping them grow professionally. You're planting a seed of motivation, showing them that you're invested in their future, and believe in their potential.

But the ripple effect doesn't stop there. When other employees see their peers learning and growing, they're likely to catch the learning bug too. Before you know it, you've got a thriving culture of knowledge and development that makes your company a more stimulating place to work. This kind of environment is a magnet for talent—people stick around where they feel they can grow.

So, while the initial outlay for training and education might seem hefty, think of it as an investment. An investment in your employees' growth, your company culture, and, ultimately, your business's success in retaining a talented and satisfied team. And that, my friend, is priceless!


In this roller-coaster ride of a job market, the narrative of offering compelling employee benefits is no longer an optional plot twist, but a central storyline for businesses. In this mix of strategic decision-making and heartfelt human understanding, the ultimate goal is finding that sweet spot—offering benefits that enrich your employees' lives while keeping your financial health robust.

From being the wise, health-conscious employer that potentially saves on insurance costs by promoting wellness, to the forward-thinking visionary who nurtures a culture of learning, you have the power to create an attractive benefits landscape. As you take these steps, remember to factor in future costs, explore voluntary benefits, and, most importantly, make space for benefits that resonate with your business identity.

Yes, it may feel like walking a tightrope, but with the strategies and insights we've explored, you are now better equipped to balance and navigate this terrain. And remember, every step you take towards enhancing your employee benefits is a stride towards building a happier, more committed workforce and a healthier, thriving business.

Want to brush up on best practices? If you’re based in Colorado, ELV offers free access to the ECE Shared Resources Platform. Register Here.

Are you looking for more child care management information? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Child Care Management.

Our child care management system makes running your child care program simple and efficient. Get back to what's most important. You shouldn't have to spend more time on the administrative tasks than you do with children and staff. 

Get the latest and greatest child care news and information today! Sign up for our newsletter...

Or schedule a demo with us to learn more about how our child care management system, Alliance Core, can streamline your administrative processes.

Do you run an early childhood association made up of child care providers? If so, check out our Ultimate Guide to Shared Service Alliance.

Header image courtesy of Jumpstory.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top