Can Small Businesses Remain Competitive with their Benefit OfferingsSmall businesses have always struggled to offer as robust of a benefits package as large companies for a variety of reasons including cost, complex administration, and compliance concerns. In today’s tight job market, companies are forced to catch up to their larger competitors to attract and retain top talent. According to the National Council of State Legislators, unemployment hit a 50 year low in September at just 3.7%. With these historic lows small businesses are being forced to think outside the box to make sure they are staying competitive.

In Guardian’s recent Small Business, Big Benefits survey, 63% of small businesses responded that they anticipate revenue growth in the next five years and 47% anticipated employee growth in the next five years. Even with this expected growth small businesses budgets remain tight and not all companies have the resources to hire a full time employee to manage their HR and benefit needs. Therefore, it is important for small businesses to find the right trusted advisor to navigate them in the right direction. According to the Guardian study nearly 30% of small business owners have also outsourced some of their benefit administration in the past three years in response to the increased compliance regulations at all levels of government.

Guardian’s study also mentions that 89% of small businesses offer medical insurance but after that coverage for dental, vision, disability, and life insurance fall to about 50% of companies offering them. Finding creative ways to offer these coverages to employees is vital to small businesses remaining competitive for talent in the marketplace.

A few ways to improve benefit offerings without large cost increases are:

  • Implement a flexible benefit plan through your Section 125 plan that allows employees to choose which benefits they want to enroll in and how to spend their employer’s contribution. With such a diverse workforce in the market today, some employees might value certain benefits over other benefits and a flexible benefit plan allows the employees to choose the plans that they value the most.
  • Implement a flexible working arrangement policy that allows employees to work from home. Guardian’s survey shows that currently 40% of small firms have a flexible working arrangement and over the next five years 46% of firms plan to offer a broader flexible working arrangement and telecommuting policy. Making sure that you stay ahead of the curve with trends like this is vital to staying competitive.
  • Offer a wellness program or establish a wellness committee. Many health insurance carriers have started to offer a wellness program built into their plans. Utilizing those plans can be a free way for employers to improve the health of their organization. According to the Wall Street Journal, employers who offer wellness programs and subsequently have healthier employees show that their employees are more productive when they are at work and are less likely to take sick days or time off to visit a doctor.

If you would like to speak with a Consultant about your small businesses’ benefits package and see how it stacks up to your competitors, contact us today.

Tim Woolley

Tim Woolley

Tim's focus is consulting for the small group market. He provides advice and guidance to clients on the design, implementation and management of their benefit strategies.