Small Business CURRENTS: 4 ways small businesses can improve benefits offerings
Employees are looking for more than a salary to stay motivated and feel valued. Compensation remains king, but the right benefits package can go a long way to attract talent, reduce turnover, and prevent employee burnout.
Unfortunately, for small business owners, offering benefits packages can be overwhelming and costly—leaving many unsure of where or how to start. But it doesn’t have to be that way. While certain benefits are unattainable for the smallest of businesses, there are plenty of ways to offer creative, next-gen benefits no matter the business’ size. In fact, some employee benefits may be more attainable for small businesses compared to corporate giants.
To establish a top-notch benefits package, small businesses should keep these three things in mind:
1) Provide voluntary benefits
Voluntary benefits, such as critical illness, accident, vision and dental, and long- and short-term disability, allow small business owners to provide employees with competitive benefits packages without breaking the bank, especially when faced with inflation worries. Since these benefits are funded by the employee but offered through work, they provide companies the ability to customize their offerings and fill gaps left by health policies without “breaking the bank.” Since these benefits are paid for by the beneficiaries, employers don’t have to take on any additional financial burden by making them part of their overall benefits package.
With little to no cost to the employer and big perks to their workers, voluntary benefits can help keep small businesses competitive with their overall compensation packages.
2) Work with a voluntary benefits advisor
Historically, small businesses can pay from 8% to 18% higher premiums than larger companies for the same health insurance policy. This is because small businesses may often lack the buying power of large firms and have smaller populations to balance risk factors. It is not feasible for most small businesses to avoid this problem by funding their own healthcare. For businesses with only a few employees, one or two employees needing emergency care could completely deplete the healthcare budget for the year. But this is where a voluntary benefits advisor can step in.
A voluntary benefits advisor can help small business owners make informed decisions regarding coverage and advise them on the best options to make available for employees. They can also help ensure employees are educated on their benefits offerings.
3) Engage with your employees when it’s convenient for them
Keeping employees engaged with their benefits will help them understand what’s available, the potential costs, and how offerings may meet their needs. Working with a broker or agent who provides access to a benefits advisor can help answer employee questions and accommodate different shifts. With more flexibility and availability outside traditional 9-5 hours, benefits advisors can talk to employees anywhere, including in person or over the phone, to make sure they have the resources needed to make any big decisions around healthcare plans and ask questions about supplemental wellness programs, stipends, and other perks.
It’s important for employees to stay engaged with their benefits year-round, not only during enrollment. One mistake employees often make is passively rolling over their benefits year after year. “Active” enrollment—requiring employees to affirmatively elect coverage (at the risk of losing coverage or defaulting to minimal coverage if they don’t) can drive employees to learn about current and new offerings.
4) Provide Virtual Enrollment Options
With many businesses operating remotely, an in-person benefits fair may no longer be the most viable option when open enrollment comes around. Small business leaders can partner with benefits educators who offer virtual enrollment services.
Virtual enrollment offerings and tools help employers meet employees where they are: at home, in the office, or a hybrid mix of both. Virtual enrollment offers flexibility to those who work varying shifts, and second or third-shift employees can meet at whatever time is convenient for them.
Because employee engagement has never been more critical, especially as employers struggle to attract and retain talented staff members, virtual enrollment presents a great opportunity for benefits educators to meet with employees no matter the time or where they are.
For businesses of any size, providing high-quality employee benefits is crucial to attracting, recruiting, and retaining top talent as well as maintaining high employee engagement. With the help of a benefits broker, small businesses can implement a strategic process to choose the right benefits, including voluntary benefits, and administer them effectively.
Additionally, working with a benefits advisor can assist employees in better understanding their benefits and answering any specific questions or concerns. No matter what the size of the company, there are always ways to attract and keep top talent through benefits—especially if small businesses keep these three tips in mind.
Richard Shaffer leads insurance sales and sales operations for Optavise. He joined the company in December 2021, having spent 24 years in a variety of sales and leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies.
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