3 Creative Benefits That Attract and Retain Top Talent

It's amazing how the employment landscape can shift so dramatically in less than a decade. During the Great Recession, companies were focused on simply staying afloat. Many instituted hiring freezes that lasted months or even years. Growth and hiring weren't top of mind – survival was.

Today, however, many companies are recruiting top talent from around the country. Skilled workers have the upper hand now. Many of the best are fielding multiple attractive offers from incredibly prestigious organizations. What is going to set your company apart?

One option is to offer a set of employee benefits that go above and beyond the norm.

The benefits you offer employees play an essential role in attracting and retaining the best talent. It's time to get more creative in addressing the holistic employee experience – that means considering the emotional, financial, and physical well-being of your most valued asset. Expanding your organization's portfolio of benefits shows your employees you care, which in turn can increase productivity, decrease absenteeism, and make your brand more attractive to talent.

3 Creative Benefits to Consider Offering to Your Employees

1. Student Loan Repayment

In today's world, a bachelor's degree is no longer a nice-to-have – it's a necessity. However, the financial burden can be significant. Recent college graduates are leaving school with an average of $34,000 in student loans, and that monthly payment could loom over them for decades.

You can help ease this burden, though. In the 2015 American Student Assistance survey, 76 percent of respondents said that all other things being equal, if an employer offered student loan repayment assistance, it would be a huge factor in their decision to take and/or remain at a given job.

2. Identity Theft Protection

According to Javelin Strategy Research, last year alone $16 billion was stolen from more than 15 million U.S. consumers due to identity fraud. By offering identity theft protection to your employees, you're not only giving them peace of mind, but also proactively covering them if your company ever faces a data breach.

Additionally, when identity theft occurs, it can take hundreds of hours to resolve the problem – hours employees will spend distressed and distracted. Identity theft protection offers the emotional and financial security your employees need to stay productive and focused in the workplace. Plus, the IRS now allows organizations to claim identity protection services for employees as a deduction.

3. Financial Education Programs

You're paying each of your employees for the work they do, but you'd be surprised to learn how many of them just don't know how to properly manage their finances. From creating a budget to starting an emergency savings fund, many employees don't know where to start.

Instead of just having the 401(k) rep visit the office every quarter, offer weekly or monthly financial education programs that address a variety of money management topics. Consider a mix of group and individual sessions, and even invite employee spouses and partners to certain gatherings. Move beyond encouraging good habits to teaching your employees how to manage money properly.

When your employees are more financially stable, they'll be happier and more productive.

Offering the benefits listed above shows employees you care for them holistically, not simply as office workers. Simultaneously, you're protecting your company's bottom line and attracting more qualified talent.

Steven Bearak is the CEO of IdentityForce, a provider of proactive identity, privacy, and credit protection for individuals, businesses, and government agencies.