stock-photo-investing-into-idea-crowdfun-1391067-672314-edited.pngEmployee benefits vary from country to country

In the Netherlands, workers can take up to 104 weeks of paid sick leave and still receive 70 percent of their salary. France, on the other hand, provides 50 percent of workers’ earnings for 26 weeks.

In the U.S., which doesn’t have a uniform policy, paid time off is one of the three top employee benefits — along with 401(k) plans and employee health insurance — that have the biggest effect on job satisfaction, according to recent research from Glassdoor.

Employee health insurance can be a challenging benefit to provide, however. Costs remain high; 77 percent of organizations saw expenses increase in 2015, according to the Society for Human Resource Management data.

Some organizations, located both in the U.S. and in other countries, also worry paid time off and vacation time will also incur an expense.

If your company is struggling to hold on to its current benefits for employees — or hoping to increase them to aid in recruitment and retention — the following tips may help you minimize the cost:

1-18-15_blog_1.jpgFocus on features workers really want

Glassdoor’s research found two additional employee benefits — employee discounts and maternity and paternity leave — did not have a statistically significant effect on employee satisfaction. Discounts, leave and other employee benefits may be regarded similarly, or be more valued, within your organization; but you won’t know until you ask.

An anonymous employee survey can help you determine which items workers view as the most worthwhile employee benefits — and which you can reduce or remove.

Make programs manageable

To prevent having to cut key provisions, you may need to consider a few employee benefit plan alterations. For example, size can be one of the biggest employee health insurance cost drivers, according to Willis Towers Watson; to keep programs sustainable, its 2015 survey found 27 percent of companies had adopted spousal surcharges for their health and pharmacy plans. Another 30 percent were contemplating doing it by 2018.

Consider employee benefits that build a strong team

Employers, potentially due to skills gap and recruitment-related challenges, have started to pay for more professional development opportunities, according to SHRM; its recently released report on the past 20 years of employee benefits showed 88 percent of companies now pay for professional association memberships, compared to 65 percent in 1996. Sixteen percent also fund executive coaching.

4-19-16_acp.jpgProviding career development-centered benefits for employees can help your organization cultivate internal talent and retain valued workers. More than a quarter of U.K. employees said they weren’t pleased with the available skill development opportunities at their organization — one of the reasons U.K. job satisfaction has declined to its lowest level in almost two years, according to data from the not-for-profit Chartered Institute for Personal Development and Halogen Software.

The overall number and type of employee benefits have increased in the past two decades, according to SHRM, which can make choosing the definitive list your organization will offer difficult.

Read our blog post on which top employee benefits are on the rise for a look at some incentives you may be able to provide.

If benefit-related cost reductions are required, use these guidelines to eliminate employee perks — without sinking employee satisfaction levels and prompting treasured talent to leave.