The Secret Formula for Creating a Winning Company Culture: Attractive Employee Benefits


How long have you been in the workforce?

If you’ve been out there for a while, you’ve witnessed changes in management philosophy and style. I think the most important of these has been the drive to set a positive and engaging company culture to shape employee behavior and create company loyalty.

Old-style management would try to get employees “in line” by regimenting everyone to a set of company policies, rules, practices, guidelines, etc. However, smart leaders discovered that it’s a lot easier to get everyone marching in the same direction by creating a company culture that is voluntarily adopted by their workforce.

A foundational principle

Let me give you one overarching principle that must be in place in order to create a positive, practical and productive company culture: Your employees must know that you care for their personal and professional welfare.

When you invest in that level of care for your employees, they will pay you a huge dividend by expressing that same level of care to your customers.

This may seem simple enough, but let me explain how small businesses drop the ball. First, they need to attract good talent. Second, once they have the right talent on board, they need high rates of retention. If you’re settling for less than the best and then losing top talent when you are lucky enough to bring them onto your team, it’s impossible to create a sustainable high-impact company culture.

Sadly, one of the reasons small businesses have these hiring and retention problems today is because owners don’t truly believe that the benefits they offer are going to impact either hiring or retention.

Advantages, shortfalls

As a small business owner, you have a lot to offer talented professionals. You can provide more varied challenges. Employees can discover their talents and grow their skills in areas that larger employers might consider outside of their direct areas of responsibility. Ambitious and talented individuals can grow with your small business and reach levels of leadership more quickly than in mid-sized or large companies.

However, the 14th Annual MetLife U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study found that 69 percent of employees at mid-sized companies chose to hire on at their companies because of the benefits that were offered to them. Less than half – 46 percent – of those working at small companies pointed to their benefits as the reason they took their jobs. A 2014 study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute echoes this fact. That survey found that 76 percent of all employees say that the benefits offered to them are “very or extremely” important when they make their decision to accept or reject a job offer.

Now, let’s look at the retention issue. The MetLife survey found that 64 percent of small business employees feel that having benefits specifically designed to meet their needs would boost their loyalty to their current company. (By the way, both dental and vision coverage were ranked at the top for these desired benefits.)

‘Small’ is no excuse

The bottom line is that small business owners who think that just because they’re “small,” the benefits they offer won’t sway the decisions of candidates or current employees are kidding themselves. It’s indisputable that an uncompetitive benefits package costs small businesses owners dearly in talent and overall retention.

This puts your small business in a bad position. It makes it virtually impossible to deliver the top quality products, services, and customer experience that are required to be successful in a world where companies like Zappos, Apple, and Chick-fil-A are setting an incredibly high bar for quality and customer service.

I don’t like saying this, but I would bet that many reading this post will say to themselves, “That’s interesting. I need to think about this someday.” Others will read this and recognize the tangible advantages for their business. They’ll start looking into bolstering the benefits they offer today.

They will be the winners.

Editor’s note:  This post has been sponsored by MetLife.  All comments and opinions are my own.