While the bottom-line figure for a new employee’s wage or salary is clearly always going to be important, it is increasingly clear workers are looking for more. Employees want to enjoy going to work – after all it is where they spend most of their waking hours – and the right combination of benefits can go a long way to creating that ideal environment to attract top talent.

And with this year’s pandemic rewriting the rules of the workplace, now is an ideal time to take a fresh look at what you are offering your team.

We are not talking necessarily about big spending either – a good benefits package is as much about creating the kind of corporate culture you want your business to be known for – and to attract the kind of people you want to make up your team.

So, while the big elephant in the room of benefits – healthcare – is not going away, there are many other smaller and cheaper things you can do to impress your new talent.

There are famous examples from the world of big business – Google is noted for yoga classes, haircuts, and massages – but small firms are able to respond just as well without committing to high dollar spending.

Benefits that are unique to the business are highly attractive as they are something that cannot be got elsewhere – retail employees tend to prize their 10 percent discount cards, sports venue employees love free tickets for games and events to share with family and friends, and university free tuition for staff and children attracts many highly qualified applicants.

These benefits are often cheap for the employer to provide as it is only costing the business at the margin, not the actual full retail price that would otherwise be paid out. Think about the free flight for an airline worker – the only real cost to the airline is if that seat would have been occupied by a full fare-paying passenger, and there is a good chance it would have flown empty.

But today’s newer workers – and do not forget millennials are now entering middle management stages of their careers – prize the work-life balance much more highly than the baby boomers entering retirement.

And as the pandemic has shown sharply, a surprising amount of business that was traditionally assumed to require an office and set schedules can in fact be successfully done remotely and flexibly.

Many workers are highly attracted to the ability to work from home or have a flexible schedule, Clearly not all industries can manage this, but for those that can, it is time to take a close look at your options.

Paid time off also features highly in workers’ expectations of a good environment – the US is noted for a long hour culture and short amounts of PTO, much of which goes unused, yet productivity surveys show firms usually benefit by giving more.

And unlimited PTO is showing in the workplaces that implement it that workers respond highly favorably to the concept, managing workloads successfully and not abusing the option. It even saves firms as they do not have to pay out for unused vacation when someone leaves.

Gym memberships and childcare assistance feature as highly desirable perks, as does paid maternity and paternity leave.

And most motivational theorists are well versed in the importance of making employees feel valued and wanted – something smaller firms are often able to do much more readily than larger ones.

Recognition of achievements costs little-to-nothing but boosts team morale sharply – employees tend to respond very positively to free food and snacks, especially if up against a deadline or for a task well done.

Younger employees are attracted by assistance with student loan debt or even help towards further education, and work social events are often appreciated to bond a team together.