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Startups / SaaS

Guest Blog- Employee Benefits for Small Business: The What and When

Justworks Employee BenefitsAs an employer, attracting and retaining talent is crucial, and you want to take care of your team. For small businesses, finding cost-effective ways to do just that can be a challenge. Today’s job seekers are looking for the great benefits they can’t access on their own. According to a Justworks study, 88% of employees said health benefits were important to them when deciding to accept a job offer.

Whether you plan to stay small or grow and scale, the types of benefits you offer will make a big impact on who you hire and who you keep. Here, discover some options for what you can offer, along with considerations about what stage of growth to offer them.


If your business is just starting out, you may not have the budget to pay people high salaries or offer big-ticket benefits like health insurance. But you do have a mission and a goal. By offering equity to your employees, you empower your team to share in that mission and goal.

When to offer it:

Consider leveraging equity as a perk in the early stages of your company’s growth. While equity doesn’t have the same immediate value of more traditional benefits, it can certainly contribute to greater team morale, camaraderie, and an individual’s stake in the success of the business.

Bear in mind that employees are ultimately going to want health insurance, retirement savings, and other types of benefits. While some early employees may be willing to forsake that in place of equity, for now, you’ll want to think about offering more benefits in the future.


Another budget-conscious option is to offer perks that give value to your employees. Think beyond the stereotypical startup ideas, like ping pong tables and gourmet coffee. Fun as those things are, they don’t provide much in the way of actual value. A perk typically consists of something that could help the employee perform their job better.

One example is subsidized training. If your business invests in educating employees — sending them to conferences and seminars or even offering to cover some college courses — employees will appreciate your investment in their future.

When to offer it:

Perks are great to offer anytime since you can tailor the offering to suit your budget. If you can’t afford to offer health insurance to your team just yet, some valuable perks can help you attract and retain employees. And if you do offer traditional benefits, additional perks are the icing on the cake that help differentiate your company in a crowded market.

It’s important to be mindful about the perks you opt to offer. Do they reflect the company culture you’re hoping to achieve? Are they actually valued by the types of employees you’re hoping to attract? Having answers to these questions is a good first step.

Health Insurance

Health insurance can be one of the bigger costs that a growing or small business needs to budget for. That said, these benefits can be accessed at nearly any budget, depending on what you want to offer. Utilizing a PEO to access health insurance for your team is one way many small businesses find cost savings.

When to offer it:

Offer access to health insurance as soon as you can afford it. If the price is prohibitive, survey your employees. If your team is young, perhaps access to health insurance is not a dealbreaker for them.

If your company grows to a certain size, you’ll be legally required to offer health insurance. Businesses with 50 or more full-time employees are mandated to offer access to health under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA defines full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees a bit differently than you might internally at your company. Visit the IRS site for details on how to calculate this, as there are steep penalties for not offering coverage.

Even if you don’t have 50 or more full-time employees, there are perks to offering insurance now. If you have less than 25 employees, contribute at least 50% of health insurance premiums for employees, and pay an average salary of less than $50,000, there may be a tax credit available to you.

About the Author and Justworks:

Sasha Butkovich is the Content & Editorial Manager at Justworks.

Justworks helps entrepreneurs and businesses grow with confidence by giving them access to big-company benefits, automated payroll, HR tools, and compliance support — all in one place. learn more about how you can work with Justworks through Acuity. Visit our partner page for more information.