How to approach building your first employee benefits package

I’ve been the first human resources leader at two successful startups. In both instances, I’ve built the human resources function and people teams from the ground up.

Doing this from scratch means you have to consider everything, from compliance to compensation. Often, processes and procedures just fell into place before I joined, so it was my job to evaluate whether they made sense.

One of the most complex and interesting topics I tackle is employee benefits packages. It’s a subject that comes up often at startups that want to ensure they have a competitive edge when it comes to hiring and retaining talent.

However, it’s also been known to get out of hand, and with startups tightening their budgets, I believe we’ll start to see benefits changing drastically in the coming months.

Founders need to ask themselves what really matters to their business, and which benefits best align with their cultural values.

Virtually every company will have its own take on what should be offered to employees, so founders inevitably struggle with what makes the cut (and what doesn’t). There’s no “one size fits all” benefits package, and nor should there be, as each company has its own objectives and goals.

Here are four aspects for founders should consider when building benefits packages:

Focus on what matters most to your people

It’s imperative that startups should not try to match what other technology companies are offering. It’ll be impossible to offer every flashy new perk that you come across, or provide extravagant packages like Google or Facebook.

For example, Netflix offers unlimited parental leave, which is incredible, but for an early startup, offering this would be daunting and difficult.

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