Article Written By: Victor Ocasio, firstname.lastname@example.org
Long Island employers are offering unusual job perks to attract new recruits and hold onto experienced workers in a tight job market.The benefits — ranging from on-site child care and unlimited paid time off to recreation and wellness options — go far beyond the standard health insurance and 401(k) offerings.
The biggest driver behind the perks, hiring experts said, is the region’s historically low unemployment rates.
Engineer Kevin Hsu, right, works with trainer and gym manager Paul Sims in the gym at Dealertrack in New Hyde Park. Credit: Barry Sloan
“It is incredibly hard to find smart, talented people to fill any position. Not just a high-level position. Any position,” said Rob Basso, chief executive of Associated Human Capital Management in Plainview, which handles payroll and HR functions for about 1,000 small and mid-size firms. “It’s gotten harder because of the unemployment rate.”
The Island’s annual unemployment rate in 2018 was 3.7 percent, the lowest it’s been since 2000, according to state Labor Department data. The rate was 3.5% in October.
With stiff competition for workers, fringe benefits have become one way employers set themselves apart, experts said.
Benefits “are increasing in importance,” said Jennifer Carey, president of the Long Island chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “A lot of companies offer the typical standard medical benefits. When you’re trying to make the decision between one employer and another … it comes down to what makes an employer stand out.”
In its annual survey of employee benefits, SHRM found that in April 2019, employers were more likely to increase benefits than to decrease them, and that only 3% of employers decreased benefits between April 2018 and April 2019. Health care and retirement savings plans remained top priorities for employers, with 70% responding that they maintained health care benefits at existing levels this year, and 93% saying they offer 401(k) plans.
In certain fields on Long Island, salary rates and basic health care or retirement offerings can be similar, Carey said. “Companies that offer different or boutique benefits have higher response rates” to their job ads, she said.
While fringe benefits such as flexible hours or generous vacation time can serve an important role in recruiting and retention for companies, and are a bonus for employees, they can also help employers compete for workers without raising salaries.