Health benefits can be deal-breakers in a tight labor market

As a hiring professional, it’s tempting to make salary the focal point of a job offer. After all, aren’t benefits just icing on the cake? 

Increasingly, the answer is no.

Rising health care costs place significant stress on Americans, and benefits packages have become deal-breakers for job seekers across all levels of employment. As the cost of doctor visits, emergency care, and annual eye exams pile up, quality benefits are becoming more enticing to individuals searching for a job.

A company that offers competitive benefits packages shows they value their employees’ health and want to provide employees with more financial flexibility. The investment also demonstrates to workers that their futures within the company are valued, and less of their out-of-pocket dollars will go toward their health care coverage. Less-elastic benefits, such as paid time-off, workplace flexibility, and wellness programs, are still important. But, health care is a critical topic that you can’t afford to ignore.

If you want to recruit and retain quality employees, you need to ensure your benefits packages provide top-notch coverage.  

Job-seekers are weighing the costs.
In a tight labor market, finding the right employee can be a challenge. Companies in the past could get top-tier managers and prospective hires to swoon with competitive salaries. Now, they need a benefits package to match.

Employees will likely think twice before switching careers, even when the salary is higher, if the benefits package is less than ideal. An unexpected medical emergency could leave them stuck paying out-of-pocket, and a salary increase may not cover the difference — meaning your new hire just lost money to work for you. That’s not a risk many job-seekers are willing to take.

Employees want peace of mind. 
Your team members are not the only ones counting on health benefits. It is important to provide sufficient coverage for employees’ families.

For many, the cost of individual coverage offered is reasonable, but coverage for an entire family can be very expensive.

Job candidates need this info prior to accepting an offer to ensure they are making the best decision for themselves and their loved ones.

This is true for employees of all ages. While younger employees may be healthier, benefits can cover the cost of pregnancy. For employees switching careers later in life, health benefits cover more than routine doctors’ visits. No matter who your target hiring demographic is, health benefits will likely be a deciding factor for applicants.

Healthy employees sustain a healthy company.
Employees who are healthy are usually happier and more productive at work. With quality health benefits, employees feel empowered to schedule annual health care exams and routine screenings.

Companies that offer vaccines or wellness programs at the office take employee health one step further. Bottom line: If your employees are healthy, they are more likely to be in the office, engaged with their job, and eager to grow with you. 

Don’t skimp on the benefits.
No business owner loves to talk about benefits; better plans cost more. But, good health care coverage helps you attract a higher tier of talent and ultimately helps increase the productivity and further the success of your company.

Kristin Lockhart is vice president of Recruiting Services at Memphis-based Adams Keegan.

This article originally appeared in Memphis Business Journal.