Affordable Employee Benefits That Make a Difference in Retention

Date: July 12, 2023

You've probably heard the saying "people don't leave jobs, they leave managers." But there's more to the story—people also leave jobs when they don't feel valued, or when they don't receive benefits that matter to them. That's why we need to talk about affordable employee benefits.

Employee benefits are no longer a "nice-to-have," they're a "must-have." They're like the secret sauce that can turn an average burger into a mouth-watering masterpiece. Not only do they keep your employees happy and contribute to overall job satisfaction by 53%, but they also play a critical role in attracting and retaining top talent.

But as a small to medium-sized business, it might seem like providing a solid benefits package is a tall order, especially when you're operating on a tight budget. You might be thinking, "I can barely afford to pay my employees, how can I afford to provide benefits?"

Well, here's the good news: benefits don't have to break the bank. In fact, there are plenty of affordable employee benefits that can make a big difference in your team's job satisfaction and loyalty. And that's exactly what we'll be delving into in this article. So, buckle up and let's dive in!

How affordable employee benefits can improve retention

Have you ever had that one coworker who seems to be glued to their job no matter what? You might think they simply love their job, and that's probably true. But a closer look would reveal something else, something powerful yet often overlooked—they're likely receiving a hefty dose of employee benefits. Let's unwrap how this works.

affordable employee benefits

Employee benefits are the unsung heroes of job retention. Think of them as superglue that bonds employees to their workplace. Benefits tell your employees, "We care about you beyond just the work you do for us." They show that you're investing in their well-being and future. And guess what? When employees feel valued, they're less likely to look elsewhere for employment. In fact, 77% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that provides a comprehensive benefits package proving just how impactful employee benefits are.

1. Benefits boost employee morale: 

When employees have access to benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, or even simple things like flexible work schedules, they're more likely to feel satisfied with their job. This can lead to improved morale and a positive work environment, making them less likely to leave.

2. They help reduce stress: 

Financial stress can be a major distraction for employees. By offering benefits that help with financial security (like retirement plans or tuition reimbursement), you can help ease this burden and allow your employees to focus more on their work.

3. They increase loyalty: 

Offering affordable employee benefits shows your employees that you're invested in them for the long haul. When employees feel that their employer truly cares about their well-being, they're more likely to be loyal and stick around.

4. They set you apart from the competition: 

In a competitive job market, offering benefits can be the deciding factor for a potential employee choosing between you and another company. Even as a small business, providing a unique benefits package can make you stand out from the crowd and attract top talent.

Simply put, affordable employee benefits are like a secret weapon for employee retention. By investing in your team's well-being, you're not just helping them stay healthy and happy, you're building a strong, loyal workforce that's committed to helping your business succeed. Now, let's dive into what some of these cheap benefits offer employees, and what they might look like.

Understanding your employee's needs

Before offering affordable employee benefits, it's essential to understand your employees' needs and wants. Each workforce is unique, with different expectations and needs from their benefits package. For example, a younger workforce might prioritize flexible work arrangements and student loan assistance, while an older workforce might value comprehensive healthcare and retirement plans.

Conducting regular surveys is an efficient way to get an understanding of what benefits your employees value the most. It allows the organization to focus resources on benefits that matter the most to their employees, ensuring that they feel valued and heard. The key here is communication. Frequent, open conversations about benefits can provide valuable insights into what your employees really need.

Understanding your employees' needs can also help when negotiating with vendors for affordable employee benefits. With clear insight into what your workforce values, you can prioritize your budget for these areas and ensure you're getting the best value for your investment.

Affordable employee benefits ideas

While the idea of providing inexpensive employee benefits can seem daunting, particularly for smaller businesses or startups, there's a wealth of affordable options out there that can make a significant difference to your employees. Here are some low cost benefits that you might consider offering:

1. Flexible work schedule: 

This is one of the most cost-effective benefits you can provide. Allowing for flexible work schedules or remote work options shows that you trust and value your employees, contributing to increased job satisfaction. Plus, it can greatly improve employees’ work-life balance and reduce overhead costs if less office space is needed. 

affordable employee benefits

2. Professional development opportunities: 

Encourage lifelong learning by reimbursing employees for relevant online courses, webinars, or workshops. For example, you could cover a set amount per year for each employee's educational pursuits. This can be a major draw for employees eager to advance in their careers.

3. Wellness programs: 

Investing in your employees' health doesn't necessarily require expensive health insurance. Consider offering affordable employee benefits through wellness programs that focus on preventive health. This can be as simple as providing discounted gym memberships, or offering healthier snack options in the office. A wellness program could also involve offering resources and seminars on mental health, stress management, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

4. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): 

These work-based intervention programs help identify and assist employees in resolving personal or work-related issues. EAPs are often entirely confidential and can include resources and counseling on topics like mental health, financial planning, and legal advice.

5. Paid Time Off (PTO): 

While this might seem like an expensive option, offering PTO can actually save you money in the long run by reducing employee burnout and improving productivity. Moreover, you can start with a modest PTO offering and gradually increase it based on tenure.

6. Employee recognition programs: 

This affordable employee benefit doesn’t have to break the bank. Recognizing employees for their hard work and dedication is a cost-effective way to boost morale and motivation. An "Employee of the Month" initiative, peer recognition programs, or regular shout-outs in company meetings can go a long way in making employees feel valued.

7. Employee discounts: 

Develop partnerships with local businesses to offer exclusive deals or discounts to your employees. This could be anything from discounted meals at a local restaurant to lower rates at a nearby daycare center.

8. Tuition reimbursement: 

Offering to cover a portion of your employees' educational expenses can be a great way to invest in their future and your business. This could be a percentage of the cost of relevant courses or a fixed sum each year.

affordable employee benefits

9. Retirement plans: 

A company-matched retirement plan not only helps employees secure their future but also shows that you care about their life beyond work. This doesn't have to be a major expense—even contributing a small percentage can make a big difference.

Remember, it's not about offering the most expensive benefits, but rather those that will be most valuable to your employees. Take the time to understand what your employees truly need and value, and then see how you can offer these benefits in the most cost-effective way. Now, let's take a closer look at how to implement these affordable employee benefits in your workplace.

Alternative affordable employee benefits

Beyond traditional benefits like healthcare and retirement plans, there are numerous alternative benefits that can be both affordable and highly valued by your workforce. Here are some affordable employee benefit ideas:

1. Customized employee rewards and recognition programs: 

Consider personalized recognition programs that allow employees to earn points for meeting goals or exemplifying company values. These points can be redeemed for meaningful rewards such as extra vacation time, gift cards, or charitable donations, allowing you to value individual preferences while fitting within your budget.

2. Health and lifestyle coaching: 

Providing monthly group sessions on topics like nutrition, exercise, and stress management helps employees feel better in and out of work. This could be offered through a certified health coach or a knowledgeable team member.

3. Volunteer days: 

Empower your employees to make a difference in their community by offering paid volunteer days. This policy shows your company's commitment to social responsibility and helps build a positive company culture.

4. Job rotation programs: 

Let employees spend a day or two in a different department to understand different roles within the company. This enhances cross-department understanding and collaboration and could lead to innovative ideas and solutions.

5. Pet-friendly policies: 

Allowing employees to bring their pets to work can reduce stress, increase job satisfaction, and improve work relationships. Make sure you establish clear guidelines to ensure a comfortable environment for everyone.

affordable employee benefits

6. Green commute initiatives: 

Encourage employees to choose environmentally-friendly commuting options. Offering incentives like subsidized public transit passes or a bike share program can make this more appealing.

7. In-house classes: 

Whether it's a weekly yoga class, a painting workshop, or a cooking demonstration, in-house classes can offer a fun and creative outlet for employees. It's a great way for employees to learn new skills and interact with their colleagues in a more relaxed setting.

Remember, benefits don't have to be costly to be effective. Affordable employee benefits are all about understanding your employees' needs and being creative in how you meet them. Even small initiatives can make a big difference in how your employees feel about your company.

Strategies for affording employee benefits

It’s common for business leaders, particularly those at smaller organizations, to be concerned about the cost of implementing an affordable employee benefits program. However, there are strategies that can help manage these costs effectively, ensuring you can provide competitive benefits without breaking the bank.

Set a budget: 

The first step in affording benefits is to establish a clear budget. Determine how much of your company's revenue you can reasonably allocate to employee benefits. It's also a good idea to research industry standards for benefit spending to ensure your budget aligns with expectations.


Not all affordable employee benefits are created equal. Some will be more valued by your employees and have a greater impact on retention and satisfaction. Use employee surveys or informal conversations to find out what your employees value most, and prioritize these benefits in your budget.

Split the cost with employees: 

Many benefits, like health insurance or retirement plans, can be offered as a shared cost between employer and employee. This can make these benefits more affordable for your business while still providing significant value to your employees.

Offer non-financial perks: 

Some of the most effective employee benefits cost little to nothing at all. Consider offering perks such as flexible working hours, the option to work from home, additional vacation days, or the opportunity for continued learning and development.

low cost benefits to offer employees

Group insurance: 

If you're looking to offer health insurance, consider a group insurance plan. These plans often offer lower rates because the risk is spread across many individuals.

Utilize tax credits: 

Some employee benefits, like retirement plans, come with tax benefits. For instance, small businesses can often receive tax credits for starting a new retirement plan. Always consult with a tax professional to understand what benefits you might be eligible for.

Use a benefit management service: 

Benefit management and employee reward and recognition services like Bucketlist Rewards can help find cost-effective solutions and handle the administrative work of managing benefits. While there's a cost associated with these services, they can often find better rates and save you time.

Regularly review your benefits package: 

As your business evolves, so too will the needs of your employees. Regularly review and update your benefits package to ensure it continues to provide value to your employees and aligns with your budget.

Offering affordable employee benefits is about understanding your team's needs, doing your research, and making smart, strategic decisions. Even if you have a limited budget, there are many creative ways to provide meaningful benefits that can improve retention, boost morale, and ensure your employees feel valued and appreciated. In the next section, we’ll delve deeper into the impacts of implementing these benefits in the workplace.

Investing in your most important asset with affordable employee benefits

As we've explored in this article, offering affordable employee benefits is not just an option, but a necessity in today's competitive job market. With more than 50% of employees stating that they would leave their current jobs for new jobs with better benefits, the time is now to invest in a benefits program for your organization. While there might be financial considerations, the return on investment in terms of improved employee retention, increased job satisfaction, and a more committed and productive workforce can be significant.

The key to success is tailoring your approach to your team's specific needs and preferences. An effective benefits package is one that resonates with your employees, aligns with their values, and supports their personal and professional growth. Furthermore, transparency and communication are paramount. Make sure your team fully understands the benefits available to them and how to make the most of these opportunities.

In a nutshell, employee benefits can be a powerful tool in your recruitment and retention strategy, proving to your team that you view them as more than just employees. They are your most valuable asset, and their wellbeing matters. The pay-offs of this investment might not be immediate, but over time, a thoughtful, well-implemented benefits program can foster a motivated, engaged, and loyal workforce, driving your company's success in the long run.

Remember to revisit your benefits package regularly, adjusting and improving it in line with your team's evolving needs. Your dedication to your employees' wellbeing won't go unnoticed and will help your company stand out as an employer of choice. After all, the heart of any business lies with its people, and investing in them is the best business decision you could make.

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