According to a MetLife U.S. employee benefit trends survey, “the more satisfied employees are with their benefits, the more satisfied they are with their jobs.” Ensure your business satisfies employees with a wide offering of benefits that meet and exceed their expectations.
First, ask yourself: What benefits would I want? Then, set about obtaining what you can afford. Ensure you have the right personnel to accomplish the work. After all, benefit departments are multi-faceted: reviewing regional and internal compensation packages; conducting potential market adjustments; surveying employees to determine current needs and wants; selecting and implementing benefits; processing necessary compliance paperwork as required by the Department of Labor. Sure, a company of 2,000 may have an entire team to do this work, but what about a company of two?
Businesses are aided through partnerships. Seek out wellness specialists that act as brokers between your business and healthcare providers. A wellness specialist understands the current market and legal requirements. They will know the latest regulations and provider details, and can help determine which packages align with the needs of your employees, at a cost your company can afford. Running a smaller operation? Businesses with fewer than 50 employees find multiple insurance options cost-prohibitive; a wellness specialist can offer advice on “self-insuring” to help offset costs.
Similarly, you'll want a retirement consultant to research investment firms alongside a reputable payroll service (who can also administer retirement plans). The enormity of compliance requirements and potential fees when administering retirement plans can be overwhelming: Retirement consultants, like healthcare consultants, understand the current environment, legal restrictions and costs. They can help determine which company can best meet your needs.
When it comes to firms, is bigger always more expensive? Not necessarily. Be sure to evaluate the big picture when comparing the cost and benefits of a smaller payroll service versus an investment firm that also processes payroll. Do not automatically assume that just because your payroll service administers retirement plans, that it is better. Some of the larger, “name-brand” investment firms, such as Charles Schwab or Merrill Lynch, can offer packages tailored to businesses of all sizes. A larger firm may also offer additional perks, including online tools, customer representatives and educational tools that a smaller payroll service cannot.
When you're ready to create your employee benefits package, or take a second look at your existing one, find a broker or consultant much as you would seek an accountant, lawyer or hair stylist – ask trusted colleagues whom they recommend. You can also research brokers online at sources such as NAHU or FINRA.
Fortunately for companies that can't afford the high salaries of bigger firms, job satisfaction is often found in unique incentives that go beyond the paycheck. If your company is one of the rare ones still offering a pension, highlight it! Offer flexible work spaces or telecommuting? Note it in your online career center. Many desirable perks, such as allowing pets, are not allowed at bigger companies yet hold a major influence on an employee's choice. You may be surprised to discover the little things you do add up to a lot for a potential employee.
Additional benefits that companies can add or expand on are local accessibility; healthy work-life balance; excellent paid time off; healthcare plans that include local providers and procedures; robust incentive programs, including vacation, wellness, discounts and commuter assistance; accommodating leave policies, such as short-term or parental leave; exciting reward programs, including bonuses for achieving sales goals or years worked.
Businesses must find benefits that keep pace with the market without hurting the company's bottom line. Go into the marketplace and explore what is possible with your company dollars. The options may surprise – and, hopefully, delight – you and your employees.