How much do benefits cost per employee?

How much do benefits cost per employee?

When it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, offering competitive employee benefits is crucial for businesses of all sizes. In fact, a survey by Glassdoor found that 57% of job seekers consider benefits and perks to be among their top considerations before accepting a job offer. However, with the rising costs of healthcare and other benefits, many employers are left wondering just how much they should be budgeting for each employee. In this article, we will explore the various types of employee benefits and the average costs associated with each, as well as the factors that can impact these costs.

The Different Types of Employee Benefits

Employee benefits can be broadly categorized into two main types: mandatory benefits and voluntary benefits. Mandatory benefits are those that employers are legally required to provide, while voluntary benefits are those that employers choose to offer as part of their overall compensation package.

Mandatory Benefits

The most common mandatory benefits in the United States include:

  • Health Insurance: Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers with 50 or more full-time employees are required to provide health insurance to their employees. The cost of health insurance can vary greatly depending on the type of plan and the number of employees covered. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2020 was $7,470 for single coverage and $21,342 for family coverage.
  • Social Security and Medicare: Employers are required to contribute 6.2% of each employee’s wages to Social Security and 1.45% to Medicare. Employees also contribute an equal amount, resulting in a total contribution of 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare.
  • Unemployment Insurance: Employers are required to pay state and federal unemployment taxes, which fund unemployment benefits for employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance to cover medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are injured or become ill on the job.

Voluntary Benefits

Voluntary benefits, also known as fringe benefits, are not required by law but are offered by employers as part of their overall compensation package. These benefits can include:

Read:what benefits does a child get if a parent dies
  • Retirement Plans: Retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, are a popular voluntary benefit offered by employers. Employers can choose to match a percentage of their employees’ contributions, which can range from 3% to 6% of their salary.
  • Life Insurance: Employers can offer life insurance as a voluntary benefit, with the option for employees to purchase additional coverage for themselves and their dependents.
  • Disability Insurance: Disability insurance provides income replacement for employees who are unable to work due to illness or injury. Employers can choose to offer short-term or long-term disability insurance as a voluntary benefit.
  • Dental and Vision Insurance: Employers can also offer dental and vision insurance as voluntary benefits, which can help cover the costs of routine check-ups and procedures.
  • Paid Time Off: Paid time off, including vacation days, sick days, and holidays, is another popular voluntary benefit offered by employers.

The Average Cost of Employee Benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cost of employee benefits in the private sector was $11.73 per hour worked in March 2021. This includes both mandatory and voluntary benefits, with the breakdown as follows:

Read:How to find a friend with benefits?
  • Health insurance: $3.03 per hour worked
  • Retirement and savings: $1.36 per hour worked
  • Legally required benefits (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation): $2.73 per hour worked
  • Life, disability, and other insurance: $0.99 per hour worked
  • Leave benefits (paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave): $2.62 per hour worked
  • Supplemental pay (overtime, shift differentials, and nonproduction bonuses): $0.98 per hour worked

It’s important to note that these costs can vary significantly depending on the industry, location, and size of the company. For example, a small business with fewer employees may have higher costs per employee compared to a larger company with more bargaining power and economies of scale.

Factors That Impact the Cost of Employee Benefits

There are several factors that can impact the cost of employee benefits, including:


The type of industry a company operates in can have a significant impact on the cost of employee benefits. For example, companies in high-risk industries, such as construction or manufacturing, may have higher workers’ compensation insurance costs compared to companies in low-risk industries, such as technology or consulting.

Read:What does chapter 35 va benefits pay for?


The cost of living and healthcare can vary greatly depending on the location of a business. For example, companies located in major cities or states with high healthcare costs may have higher health insurance premiums compared to those in more rural areas.

Employee Demographics

The age, gender, and health status of employees can also impact the cost of employee benefits. For example, a company with a younger workforce may have lower health insurance costs compared to a company with an older workforce, as younger employees tend to have fewer health issues.

Company Size

As mentioned earlier, the size of a company can also impact the cost of employee benefits. Larger companies may have more bargaining power and can negotiate better rates with insurance providers, resulting in lower costs per employee.

Case Study: The Cost of Employee Benefits at Google

Google is known for its generous employee benefits, which have helped the company attract and retain top talent. In 2019, Google spent an average of $29,500 per employee on benefits, which is significantly higher than the national average. So, what makes Google’s benefits package so expensive?

Firstly, Google offers comprehensive health insurance coverage, including medical, dental, and vision insurance, with no employee contributions. The company also offers on-site healthcare services, such as doctors, nurses, and physical therapists, to its employees at no cost.

Google also offers a generous retirement plan, with a 401(k) match of up to 50% of an employee’s contribution, up to a maximum of $9,000 per year. The company also provides life insurance, disability insurance, and paid time off, including 22 vacation days and 12 paid holidays per year.

While these benefits may seem expensive, they have helped Google maintain a highly engaged and satisfied workforce, resulting in lower turnover and higher productivity.

The Importance of Communicating the Value of Employee Benefits

While the cost of employee benefits can be significant, it’s important for employers to communicate the value of these benefits to their employees. Many employees may not fully understand the cost of their benefits or the impact they have on their overall compensation package.

Employers can use tools such as total compensation statements to show employees the full value of their benefits, including the cost of health insurance, retirement contributions, and other perks. This can help employees better understand and appreciate the value of their benefits, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention.

In Conclusion:

Employee benefits are a crucial component of a company’s compensation package and can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. While the cost of employee benefits can vary greatly depending on various factors, it’s important for employers to carefully consider the needs and preferences of their workforce when designing their benefits package. By offering competitive and comprehensive benefits, employers can attract and retain top talent, resulting in a more engaged and productive workforce.

Remember, the cost of employee benefits is not just an expense for employers, but an investment in their most valuable asset – their employees.

Previous post
How long to see benefits of infrared sauna?
Next post
How much is unemployment benefit?

Leave a Reply