Articles, Operating a Business

Motivate Your Employees With These Top 4 Types of Employee Benefits

Written By: Amanda Winstead
Reviewed by: Mike Reyes
Last Updated October 15, 2021

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When it comes to motivating your employees, there are many choices of benefits to choose from. While there are the traditional benefits—such as health insurance, vacation and sick days, and 401(k) plans—some employers will even offer additional benefits and perks to entice job seekers to work for them. 

However, whatever the variety of benefit options are, a good employer should always at least offer these four main benefits: medical, paid time off, life insurance, and retirement plans. While other employee benefits also work well to motivate, they are more like perks rather than necessities. Whereas benefits such as health insurance and a 401(k) are more important and necessary for employees to have their basic needs met and plan for their future. 

1. Medical Benefits 

An excellent employee medical benefits package is often one of the top reasons that motivate a job seeker to choose one employer over another. With rising healthcare costs, health insurance and other medical benefits are a must-have for employees. 

The type of medical coverage and benefits that an employer will offer can vary, and some will provide better plan options and coverage than others. However, if an employee works 30 hours or more, employers must provide at least a basic coverage option.

Medical benefits will include any combination of the following:

Health insurance

To keep employees motivated, employers with full-time employees working 30 hours or more must offer some sort of plan or coverage option. Standard health insurance plans will help cover doctor visits, hospital fees, preventive treatments, and prescription drugs. 

For part-time employees or other employees not eligible for full health insurance benefits, some employers may offer benefits such as Health Reimbursement Accounts or Flexible Spending Accounts to help cover expenses. 

Dental and vision insurance

Disability benefits: Disability benefits are also not a requirement of the ACA, but many employers will still offer them. Disability benefits are often essential and invaluable as they help pay for a portion of an employee’s income if something happens to them and they are unable to work for an extended period. No doubt, diability benefits are an excellent way to motivate your employees.

There are two options available to employers looking to offer disability benefits to their employees:

Short-term disability

Short-term benefits typically cover a percentage of an employee’s income for a temporary period of up to two years. 

Long-term disability

Long-term benefits are available to those who suffer more serious injuries or illnesses that leave them unable to work for extended periods. These benefits can cover up to a few years, such as five or ten years, and in some cases, they can last until retirement. 

2. Paid Time Off

In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to offer paid time off for things like vacation and sick leave. Some employers may even view paid leave benefits as a perk rather than a necessity. For this reason, some employers are frugal with their paid time off benefits.

However, from an employee’s perspective, employers that don’t offer decent time off do not have their wellbeing in mind and only care about the bottom dollar. There is much debate about what is and is not okay when it comes to paid time off. Still, as a whole, our society is becoming increasingly mindful of work-life balance and the necessity to have paid time off to support our physical and mental wellbeing. 

An ideal employer will offer all of the below paid time off benefits:


The perspective of travel and time off is shifting from a privilege to a necessity for our continued health and wellbeing. Issues with mental health tend to worsen when employees feel exhausted and not able to take time off. 

Sick days

While some employers view vacation days as more of a perk, most of them do understand the need for sick days. No one is perfect, and we all get sick now and then. Some of the best employers will offer unlimited or flexible paid time off for both sick days and vacation days. 

Parental leave

Federal law does not require employers to offer paid family leave, such as maternity or paternity leave. However, three states—California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island—have mandated it at a state level. This is another issue that there is much debate over, but a good employer will generally offer some sort of paid family leave. 

Bereavement leave

Bereavement leave, or compassionate leave, is paid time off for employees who suffer the loss of a family member or loved one. This is also not a benefit that employers must provide, but it shows care and empathy. 

3. Retirement Plans

While the government has a social security benefits system in place to help us as we get older and become unable to work, these benefits may not always be around or may change. Even for those who do currently receive social security benefits, it is often not enough money for them to entirely get by. For this reason, it’s not only motivating but is almost a necessity for an employer to offer employee retirement plan options.

Though retirement is years away for many individuals, it is often a topic that we frequently stress over. Living in the now is alluring. But, if you aren’t mindful of your finances and forget to put your money into savings or a retirement account, living in the now won’t matter when you’re 75 and can’t afford basic necessities. As a result, employees seek out employers that offer cushy retirement plans.

There are typically two types of retirement plans available through an employer that offers these benefits: 

A defined benefit plan

In a defined retirement plan, your employer will provide a certain amount every month once you retire. This amount is sometimes pre-determined, such as $100 or $200 a month. Or, your employer may calculate the amount based on your salary and the number of years you worked for them. 

A defined-contribution plan

With a contribution plan, your employer and yourself, or even both, will contribute to the retirement account. The amount that you or your employer contributes may be a set rate, or some employers will match whatever you put into the account. However, these contributions are considered an investment on the employee’s behalf, and the amount the employee receives after retirement is tied to investment gains and losses and, therefore, may change.

One of the most common types of retirement contribution plans is a 401(k). When you retire, however, it’s important to remember that while the money that sits in your 401(k) is not taxable, it does become so once the money is withdrawn. 

4. Life Insurance 

Like a retirement plan, a Life insurance policy is one of those things that we need but is not always at the forefront of our minds. Life insurance policies offered through your workplace are typically referred to as Group Life Insurance. With this benefit, your employer will provide payments to your family to help cover any funeral and burial-related costs as well as ongoing living expenses. 

Some companies may also offer additional benefits similar to life insurance, such as Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance (AD&D). Often, AD&D benefits will accompany group life insurance benefits. Instead of multiple payments that your family receives with a life insurance policy, with AD&D benefits, your employer will provide a lump sum to your family if death or dismemberment is a direct result of an accident. 

Tips Motivating Employees With Benefits

For most new employees, the benefits an employer offers are a key factor to motivate them to take the job or not. Many employers understand this and know that they need to provide an enticing benefits package if they want to attract quality employees. 

When it comes to deciding which job to take, however, it’s ultimately up to job seekers to consider their budget and determine what benefits are a must and which ones are negotiable. Some employers are even willing to negotiate on benefits if they think you are worth the investment or if they see that you had more than what they are offering with a previous employer—so don’t be afraid to speak up for your wants and needs. 

If job seekers aren’t sure what they need or what matters most, it’s helpful to sit down and come up with a budget. What insurance coverage can you afford on your own, and what insurance do you need your employer to cover? Or, perhaps you need an employer that offers a comprehensive package, so you don’t have to worry about paying for any of it yourself. Whatever the case, it’s always in a job seeker’s best interest to look through their finances and plan for their future by setting a budget to determine what works best for them and their lifestyle. 

Bonus: Hiring Freelancers

As an individual who does contract work or is self-employed as a freelancer, budgeting isn’t just a recommendation, it’s a requirement. This is because the standard benefits that most employers offer are not available to freelancers. Those who are self-employed have to pay for everything themselves.

When sitting down to make a list of the benefits and coverages that motivates them, for freelancers to consider the rates they charge for the work that they provide. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything you have to pay for yourself, but you can easily stay on top of your finances if you charge an appropriate rate for the services you provide. 

For example, freelancers need to consider what insurance coverages they need in addition to the fact that they pay higher taxes and don’t get paid time off. So it’s important to charge a rate that has both your skill level as well as what coverages you will need in mind. 

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