2020 proved a tumultuous year for startups. COVID-19 had recently-founded companies collaborating remotely. Angel investors and venture capitalists exerted a tighter grip on their funds. Talent flocked to more established companies.

When it comes to attracting and retaining talent in the current climate, benefits are vital. Here’s a look at five benefits startups can and should offer—options that have high appeal, low cost and practical utility for employees.

  1. Mental health days: While some startup packages include formal policies for sick days and paid vacation, mental health days are something else entirely. Mental health days are unscheduled, no-questions-asked personal days that come with an implicit understanding between employee and employer. Letting employees know they’re covered during unforeseen times of stress, anxiety or other mental health episodes shows your understanding for personal wellness and wellbeing.
  2. Telehealth opportunities: Startups offering health insurance may only be able to provide high-cost, high deductible plans to their employees. So more of them are looking at telehealth plans and options as a way to provide basic healthcare support at a lower cost. Especially in a time where social distancing and remote work are widespread, telehealth is a progressive, convenient solution.
  3. Technology stipend: Working from home means employees sometimes rely on their own resources to do their job, from personal computers to home Wi-Fi. These are resources employees have already paid for or pay for on an ongoing basis. So many startups have begun offering a technology stipend—a monthly, semi-annual or annual payment—to help offset the costs of at-home technology resources. Be sure to review your state requirements on reimbursable expenses for remote work. For example, some states may require reimbursement if an employee is using their personal phone for work.
  4. Retirement matching: Younger employees joining startups are aware of the importance of retirement planning. They’re looking for companies that offer a 401(k) or sponsored Roth IRA—something relatively affordable for most startups. Matching contributions, even at a low level, shows your commitment to the future of your employees and opens the door for larger matching contributions as the company grows.
  5. Memberships: Without in-office perks to rely on, many startups are offering membership reimbursement or assistance for services used outside of work. These can include gym memberships, meal delivery subscriptions, streaming services and software accounts. Such a benefit shows recognition that employees should have a fulfilling life outside of work. It’s a simple gesture that can boost morale.

Times have been tough for up-and-coming businesses, but it’s exactly the type of climate entrepreneurs are used to. For many startups, vacation pay, maternity/paternity leave and health insurance just aren’t feasible—at least not in the earliest stages of inception.

Success in this area is just a matter of adapting. Small companies can maximize their benefits by offering high-value perks to employees that don’t weigh heavy on the bottom line. It’s a step in the right direction to acquiring the best talent, which is a key to growth. And with growth comes new opportunities for even better benefits. Every company needs to start somewhere.

When it comes to choosing your benefits, consulting with an HR professional is a great way to get started. They can help you find the choices that appeal most to the talent you’re seeking.

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