For the last six months, the U.S. unemployment rate has averaged 3.7% for almost all groups of Americans — the lowest it’s been since 1969. Job openings are at a record high and employers are fighting hard to attract and retain their workforces. With so many openings to fill, employers aren’t being as selective and are willing to hire candidates that they would have refused in the past. It’s definitely a job seeker’s market.
Highly experienced and educated candidates are in a prime position to pretty much “write their own tickets” by leveraging what they bring to the table with the current employment climate. To attract and hold on to top talent, employers will have to pull out all the stops when structuring their compensation packages. If not, they’ll find candidates bypassing or leaving their organizations for greener pastures.
Employee satisfaction is a key contributor to a company’s success so offering incentives that motivate staff and attract highly desirable candidates is essential. A generous salary is always appreciated but to stand out from the competition, companies need to be intuitive and add perks (some non-monetary) that employees will find rewarding.
Not sure which perks will do the trick? Follow the lead of some of the most successful companies in the country. These companies know that keeping their employees happy will keep their customers happy. And, happy customers will ultimately lead to happy shareholders.
In order to rank America’s Best Employers for 2019, Forbes teamed with market research firm Statista and surveyed 50,000 employees at U.S. companies and nonprofits. The survey was conducted with global digital data collection partners who use innovative technology and proven sampling methodologies to facilitate a deep understanding of consumer opinions and behavior. Participation in the survey was voluntary and respondents were recruited from thousands of companies to maximize reach and representation. The sampling represented a mix of American employees (gender, age, region, and ethnicity).
Along with more than 30 detailed questions about working conditions, the respondents were asked, on a scale of zero to 10, “How likely would you be to recommend your employer to a friend or family member?” They were also asked how they felt about the other employers in their respective industries.
When the survey results were compiled, 1,000 companies emerged as employers of choice. These employers are successfully addressing the needs and wants of their employees. Of those awarded, 500 are large companies (more than 5,000 employees) and 500 are midsize companies (more than 1,000 employees). Among large companies, the top twenty are listed below.
Those who faithfully shop at Trader Joe’s become more than loyal customers – they become part of the Aldi-owned grocer’s fan base. Since opening their doors in 1958, a nautical theme, low prices, stellar customer service, and high-quality products have made them a fan favorite. Shopping at Trader Joe’s is a sensory experience.
The grocer’s “fans” aren’t the only ones who hold them in high regard. Headquartered in Monrovia, California, Trader Joe’s has steadily climbed Forbes’ Best Employers list over the last three years (#19 in 2017, #2 in 2018) and this year, they topped the list with an impressive score of 9.59 out of 10.
Describing working conditions, atmosphere and remuneration as favorable, Trader Joe’s employees were shown to be satisfied and highly motivated. They feel valued and part of a team in which each member is contributing to the company’s success. This is due, in part, to Trader Joe’s commitment to eliminating bureaucracy and ensuring that the input of all employees (crew members and managers) is taken into consideration. Employees can review their managers so everyone is held accountable and the potential for managers to abuse their authority is minimized.
Employees also have a say in the amount of time they spend on tasks. For example, Trader Joe’s is sensitive to the fact that a crew member may not want to spend the entire work day on a single task. As a result, employees enjoy coming to work which makes for a friendlier employee who is willing to go the extra mile. This, ultimately, leads to a better customer experience.
According to Forbes, Trader Joe’s also offers competitive pay and sets their minimum wage based on the market that a store is in. As a result, a crew member can earn as much as $24.75 an hour and qualify for raises every six months. Trader Joe’s also offers health insurance, paid time off (PTO), flexible hours and a company-funded retirement plan.
Since Trader Joe’s establishment, they’ve never had layoffs and credit their attention to employees’ needs for their low employee turnover rate.
Now that you’ve seen what Trader Joe’s offers their employees, let’s take a look at some of the perks offered by other top-rated employers. On first read, their perks lists are quite impressive but before these employers are “patted on the back” you should know which perks are non-taxable for the employee.
A fringe benefit (perk) is a non-wage form of compensation that employers use to incentivize employees. Essentially, fringe benefits are considered to be taxable income and the fair market value must be reported on the employee’s W-2 Form each year (link to 1099 Contractor vs. W-2 Employee article) unless the benefit appears on the IRS’s list of non-taxable benefits. (See IRS Publication 15-B: Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits). https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15b.pdf (this is the link to IRS Publication 15-B)
In most cases, the following benefits aren’t subject to federal income tax withholding, social security, Medicare, or federal unemployment (FUTA) taxes and aren’t reported on Form W-2:
As shown in Table 2-1 below, some benefits on the list are exempt from federal income tax withholding but may be subject to Social Security, Medicare, or FUTA taxes. Other benefits have limits on the amount that’s exempt from taxes.
Accident and health benefits is probably the most common fringe benefit offered by employers. The employer can deduct the amount of the premiums paid on behalf of its employees and employees aren’t taxed on the premiums.
The Achievement awards exclusion applies to tangible property that an employer gives to an employee for either length of service or safety achievement. It doesn’t apply to gift cards, gift certificates, tickets to theater or sporting events or cash equivalents like bonds or stocks.
To exclude the Athletic facilities benefit from an employee’s income, the gym or athletic facility must be on the employer’s premises. The exclusion doesn’t apply to an athletic facility that’s made available to the general public through the sale of memberships, or rental of the facility.
Fringe benefits that are classified as de minimis aren’t included in taxable income because their value is so minimal that accounting for them would be difficult for employers. For example, snacks provided to employees during a meeting would be considered a de minimis benefit.
Employer-provided cell phones are excludable from taxable income if there are substantial business reasons for providing the phones. Any personal use would be considered a de minimis benefit. Cell phones provided to attract prospective employees or as a means of providing additional compensation can’t be excluded.
Meals can be excluded from an employee’s taxable income if they are considered to be de minimis (i.e. coffee, doughnuts, occasional parties or picnics for employees and their guests) or if they’re provided on the employer’s business premises for the employer’s convenience. For example, a hospital that needs to have a certain number of staff available to handle emergencies may provide employees with free lunch in its cafeteria.
No-additional-cost services are those services that a company would provide to a customer in the ordinary course of operating its business. The company doesn’t incur any additional costs in providing the service to the employee. No-additional-cost services are excess capacity services, such as airline, bus, or train tickets; hotel rooms; or telephone services provided free, at a reduced price, or through a cash rebate to employees working in those lines of business.
The Working condition benefits exclusion applies to property and services provided to an employee so that the employee can perform his or her job. It applies to the extent the cost of the property or services would be allowable as a business expense or depreciation expense deduction to the employee if he or she had paid for it. Examples of working condition benefits include an employee’s use of a company car for business, an employer-provided cell phone provided primarily for business purposes, and job-related education provided to an employee.
Established in 1967, Southwest Airlines is the world’s largest low-cost carrier and carries the most domestic passengers of any United States airline. The airline has more than 59,000 employees as of March, 2019. Here are most of the perks that they offer:
Goodwill (No monetary value)
Established in 1876, Eli Lilly and Company is an American pharmaceutical company whose products are sold in approximately 125 countries. The company has more than 40,655 employees as of January, 2018. Here are most of the perks that they offer:
Goodwill (no monetary value)
Established in 1998, Google is an American multinational technology company specializing in internet-related services and products. It’s considered one of the Big Four technology companies, alongside Amazon, Apple and Facebook. The company has 103,459 employees as of Q1 2019. Here are most of the perks that they offer:
Goodwill (no monetary value)
Established in 1989, Garmin Ltd. is an American multinational technology company specializing in GPS technology for automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor, and sport activities. As a developer of wearable technology, Garmin competes with FitBit and Apple. The company has 13,000 employees as of 2018. Here are most of the perks that they offer:
Goodwill (no monetary value)
Culled from the perks lists above and based on a recent recruiting firm survey, here are the best perks to offer your employees. Most are non-taxable for them.
Employees will expect these perks at a minimum:
These perks will show that you support employees’ family obligations and career growth:
To enhance recruitment and retention, offer these perks:
Trader Joe’s tops the list of the Best Employers yet they offer a considerably lower number of perks than Southwest, Lilly, Google and Garmin. What’s the takeaway from this? It would appear that although employees value perks that save them money and make their lives easier, they value R-E-S-P-E-C-T even more. Trader Joe’s has fostered a supportive work environment in which all employees feel appreciated and an integral part of the company’s success. And, it’s a perk that doesn’t cost them anything.
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