First things first – what do we mean by “employee benefits” and “company culture”?
What are employee benefits?What are employee benefits?
Employee benefits are how an employer indirectly compensates their employees. Employees receive these benefits in addition to their direct compensation, i.e. wages or salaries. Employee benefits packages often include health benefits — most notably, employer-sponsored health insurance — but they can include other non-traditional benefits, from free snacks and drinks in the office to no-cost financial coaching or professional development.
What is company culture?What is company culture?
Company culture refers to the way people conduct themselves in the workplace, including everything from formal, company-wide policies and values to employees’ organic interactions and tendencies. According to a Harvard Business Review article about company culture, it encompasses both “the ways people in the organization behave and the attitudes and beliefs that inform those behaviors (i.e., ‘the way we do things around here’).”
What do employee benefits have to do with company culture?What do employee benefits have to do with company culture?
Offering good employee benefits greatly improves a business’ chances of fostering a good company culture. Sure, it’s possible for a company to offer good employee benefits without having a good company culture, and vice versa. But the two often go hand in hand. And that’s because, as The HR Digest puts it: “A good company culture denotes maximum opportunity for an employee to function at his/her optimal level.”
When you think about it that way, the connection between employee benefits and company culture becomes clear. Good employee benefits are not free kombucha and a ping pong table in the office. Good benefits take a holistic approach to help employees optimize their health and happiness, and they genuinely make employees’ lives better. When individual workers thrive, the workplace culture thrives.
When given the proper tools to avoid sickness, overwork, and burnout, employees feel better — both in general and about their work. Happy, healthy employees miss fewer workdays, interact more positively with one another, have more bandwidth for work-related challenges, and do their jobs more effectively — all of which positively impact company culture.
3 specific ways employee benefits can improve company culture3 specific ways employee benefits can improve company culture
Business leaders can tailor their employee benefits package to their desired culture — or, at the very least, think about how the benefits they offer (or don’t offer) might affect their company culture.
Both small business owners and HR professionals at larger companies have the opportunity to think about the culture they want to create and how certain employee benefits might help them realize that vision. Below are three specific ways that employee benefits can enhance company culture:
1. Employee benefits can be used to recruit and retain the best and the brightest employees, which gives you greater control over who enters (and stays in) your company culture.
In a competitive job market, good benefits packages set employers apart in the minds of prospective employees. By offering genuinely standout benefits — and then advertising them in the job posting and discussing them in the interview process — you will likely attract a larger pool of applicants, and higher-quality ones at that. Having qualified applicants to choose from allows you to select the candidate you believe is truly the best fit for your company culture. And having a great company culture with great benefits will be instrumental in retaining those employees, too.
2. Employee benefits can be used to reflect — and double down on — your company’s values, which strengthens the foundation of your company culture.
Let’s say one of your brand values is innovation: You will probably want your benefits package to include things like stipends for education and professional development so that your employees can stay at the cutting edge of their field. If one of your core values is empathy, you may want to give your employees a flexible work schedule, showing them that you empathize with their diverse needs and lifestyles. To complement a value like community engagement, you could include paid time off for volunteering. Your benefits are one way to put your money where your mouth is to demonstrate your commitment to your stated values.
3. Management can use employee benefits to help them model the company culture they’re trying to foster.
While everyone in an organization — not just management — contributes to company culture, managers have the opportunity to take full advantage of their employee benefits and be vocal with their teams about doing so. Leading by example is a great way to inspire and empower employees to use their employee benefits in ways that ultimately make the entire organization better. If managers take time off to avoid burnout, take advantage of mental health benefits, volunteer in the community, pursue continuing education, etc., then their employees are more likely to follow suit. And if everyone in your organization is doing those things, then your company culture, as well as your bottom line, are likely to thrive!
If you’re a small business owner looking to offer great employee benefits, get a quote from Sana. Our health plans are built specifically to make top-notch employee health benefits accessible and affordable for small businesses. Your company culture will thank you.