The Top 5 Employee Benefits That Cost You Nothing

These employee benefits can really help you stand out from your competition to attract and retain the best talent — at no additional cost to you!

Desiree Grosman
October 20, 2022

The competition for skilled labor is fierce. Every company is trying to outbid each other with higher pay and better medical coverage. That means you have to get creative with your employee benefits in order to attract and retain the best workers.

What can you do to sweeten the pot and get an edge on the competition — that won't add to an already-tight budget? Here are 5 of the best employee benefits that don't cost a dime.

Schedule Flexibility

Schedules in blue collar industries like construction, manufacturing, and landscaping tend to be rigid. Early mornings and long hours are the norm. That can make it difficult to attract and retain employees, especially those with families.

One way to combat this is to offer more flexible scheduling. If you can be accommodating with start and end times, or 4-day work weeks, you'll be more attractive to potential employees.

There are several types of flexible work arrangements you can offer that appeal to different types of employees:

  • Compressed Work Week (working longer hours for fewer days)
  • Flex Time (employee chooses when to start and end their work day, as long as they meet a minimum number of hours each week)
  • Job Sharing (2 part-time employees share the responsibilities of 1 full-time position)
  • Part-Time (reduced hours)
  • Shift Work (non-standard hours, often in 4 or 8 hour shifts)
  • Split Shift (a shift that is split in 2, with a longer period of time in between)

The seasonality of some businesses also allows for more creative staffing solutions. Construction, HVAC, and landscaping are obvious examples, but even manufacturing and distribution can have down times. During this natural ebb and flow, you can offer employees more time off when business is slow and make up the hours when business is booming, without impacting their annual salary.

Each of these arrangements can increase employee morale and give them a better work/life balance — without costing you anything.

Location Flexibility

Many employers in blue collar industries were hesitant to allow employees to work remotely, or didn't have the infrastructure to support it pre-2020. But the pandemic proved that it can be done successfully in a wide range of trades and roles.

And now that we know it's possible, there's no reason not to consider it as an ongoing perk for your employees!

With the right tools in place, remote work can be a game changer for recruiting and retention. Employees who are given the option to work from home (even just one day a week) are more productive, have lower stress levels, and take fewer sick days.

work from home options for the trades

And this isn't just a great option for roles like customer service or administrative positions. Many construction, plumbing, and other field service companies are using technology to dispatch workers from home, eliminating the need for a central office altogether. Allowing deskless employees to dispatch from home also cuts down on commute times and gives them more control over their schedule.

While it's not entirely feasible for every business model, giving your employees autonomy over their work location can have a big impact on their happiness, reducing turnover in the process!

Commuter Subsidies

For employees who do need to be in your warehouse or on your job sites, you can help them offset the cost of their commute. One way to do this is through a commuter subsidy.

Commuter subsidies are a way to reimburse employees for the cost of their commute, up to a certain amount. The IRS allows employers to give up to $270 per month in commuter subsidies, tax-free, to each employee. And while your business would technically be paying this benefit, it's offset by the fact that you wouldn't be paying payroll taxes on it.

On average, each employee that participates in a commuter benefits program saves their employer $40 per month. In 12 months, 50 employees participating can save the company more than $24,000 per year.

These tax-free transportation benefits can be used for:

  • Public transit (bus, train, etc.)
  • Parking Costs
  • Ferries
  • Bicycling
  • Vanpooling/Rideshares

If you have employees who commute long distances, this can be a major selling point when recruiting new talent.

Flex Spending Account

flex spending account for the trades

If you already offer medical benefits, you may be able to save your employees (and your business) money by setting up a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). An FSA allows employees to set aside up to $2,850 pre-tax dollars to cover eligible medical, dental, and vision expenses.

An FSA lets employees save for medical expenses in a way that's similar to how you would with a savings account. These employer-sponsored annual plans are funded through deductions from the employee's paycheck before taxes.

Not only do these benefits provide coverage for the employee, their spouse and dependents, but the FSA money can be put towards:

  • Copayments
  • Deductibles
  • Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications with a doctor's prescription
  • Medical equipment (such as crutches, bandages, and blood sugar test kits)

Plus, as the employer you get to avoid a 7.65% payroll tax (Medicare and Social Security) on the money employees contribute to an FSA.

Offering this additional medical benefit can help you attract and retain employees, while also saving your business money in the long run.

→ Read about recent trends in employee insurance benefits

Vendor Benefits

You likely have a long list of vendors and suppliers that you work with on a regular basis. If you've built a strong relationship with these vendors, there's a good chance they're willing to offer some employee benefits as well.

Tools, equipment rental, gear, and other employee purchases are often available at a discount when purchased through your company. These discounts can add up to big savings for your employees, and can be a major selling point when recruiting new hires.

Could employees benefit from more affordable boots or work clothes? What about a discount on the latest power tools or safety equipment? Whatever it is, if it's something your employees need and you have a good relationship with the vendor, there's a good chance you can get them a discount.

Some vendors are even willing to donate items that you can use as employee incentives for things like safety programs, employee of the month, or other recognition programs. And while these benefits will cost the vendor something, it's important to remember that they're also getting the benefit of your continued loyalty.

A 401K and health insurance are great, but they're not the only things that employees are looking for. These are the types of no-cost employee benefits that can really help you stand out from your competition. By offering creative benefits like these, you can attract and retain the best talent — at no additional cost to you! And that's good for everyone involved.

Ready to let job seekers know about your robust employee benefits package? Team Engine can help you get the word out in an automated and cost-effective way. Click here to learn more about how we can help you recruit, hire and retain top talent in the trades!

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