By Tracey Drury
Reporter – Buffalo Business First
With the labor market this tight, offering standard health, vision and dental might not be enough to recruit and retain employees.
So how aobut offering free lunch and snacks every day? Or footing the bill for clubs and athletic activities like softball or golf?
That’s the strategy Nick Kisinski is using to help add another 100 employees to the 150-person workforce at Odoo Inc’s downtown Buffalo offices.
“We thought we would be unique in offering this from an employee benefits perk,” said Kosinski, managing director of the Belgium-based software developer. “You’ve got to be creative. This market is crazy.”
While Odoo is going a bit further than some, lots of companies are adding supplemental and voluntary benefits ranging from pet insurance to identity theft benefits to remain competitive on the hiring front.
According to a 2022 Metlife Employee Benefits Trends study, 73% of employees say they would stay at their current employer longer if they had a wider selection of benefits. That could include making anything from pet insurance to tuition assistance, which are available as optional perks at discounted group rates.
For other companies, that could include concierge-style benefits, like on-site dry cleaning pick-up and delivery, child care or grocery delivery.
Lisa Stefanie, president of TripleTrack HR Partners in Williamsville said employers need to consider more than just higher wages and a broader, more comprehensive benefits package offers lots of choices.
“If employers want them to stick around for a while, they kind of have to pull out all the stops,” she said. “It’s an employees’ market.”
Clients of TripleTrack, which provides outsourced HR for small and mid-sized businesses, are looking at benefits like supplemental short-term and long-term disability that provides 60% of an employees income to supplement state benefits that pay only about $170 per week. And because its a voluntary opt-in benefit, there’s not coast the employer.
“For an individual to buy that out-of-pocket outside of a small group policy is way more expensive,” she said. “But it offers peace of mind.”
Brian Murphy, an employee benefits partner with Lawley, said some employers are also offering home warranty coverage for home appliances like washers, dryers and furnaces for employees working from home.
“We are definitely seeing that increasing…all of those things to try to make it a more robust benefits package in hopes by employers to retain their key employees,” he said.
Another common supplemental benefit: accident plans and hospital plans, which in many cases reimburse the out-of-pocket costs of a health insurance deductible for emergency room visits and other unexpected health care issues like twisting an ankle on an icy sidewalk or having a child get hit in the face with a soccer ball.
Jeremy Higgins, president of Higgins Agency Group, said the cost can be as little as $5 to $10 per month.
“In some cases, the payment from the product might be greater than the cost of your health insurance bill, so you’re almost compensated for time and discomfort too” he said. “That’s a high-reward, low-cost perk an employer can offer.”
At Odoo, plans call for opening the on-site kitchen by summer at the company’s Seneca One office, with an in-h0use chef providing lunch five days a week as well as occasional breakfasts and happy hours.
The sports perk covers the cost for any group of six or more employees who want to participate in a league. So far, groups have taken advantage of the offer, signing up for softball, kickball, broomball and golf. The company provides branded gear, as well as donuts, bagels and coffee for groups that meet to play Dungeons and Dragons or other activities.
“It’s also about camaraderie, which is through the roof,” he said. “Every penny is worth its weight in gold.”
This article originally appeared in Buffalo Business First.