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Opinion: How employee benefits can attract, retain talent

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If you are like many businesses, you are currently sitting with several open positions.

According to a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, 44% of small businesses had jobs they couldn’t fill. Unfortunately, we are in a time where the number of jobs available far outweighs the number of those seeking employment. You’ve probably heard of employers advertising big sign-on bonuses or competitive benefits packages to attract new hires. 

Let’s talk about the benefits package you are offering. Have you completed a benchmarking analysis to see how you compare with other like employers?

What we are finding in the benefits marketplace is that now more than ever is the time to educate and engage your employees so they clearly understand the value available to them and their families. If health insurance is currently being offered, it is probably in the top three expenses your business incurs – so, communicate the heck out of it.

If you are not currently offering health insurance to your full-time employees, now is the time to do so. It does not matter whether you are a small, medium or large employer; now is the time to explore your options.

The Affordable Care Act requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to 95% of full-time employees or pay a significant fee to the IRS.

I recommend small employers, those with fewer than 50 full-time eligible employees, research  the Missouri Chamber Benefit Plan. With limited options in the individual marketplace, offering a group medical plan could be a win-win for you and your employees. 

If you are offering health insurance, now would be a good time to benchmark your plan to others in the area. From employer contributions to deductibles and co-payment levels, how do you compare? Maybe it is time to enhance your health care package. 

In addition to health insurance, many employers offer dental, vision, life and disability insurance. While most large employers choose to contribute a portion to these premiums, small employers do not. I would recommend evaluating these offerings and doing what you can to boost your benefits package.

Another benefit is work-site coverage. Work-site insurance plans are designed to offset health insurance deductibles, out-of-pocket medical expenses and loss of income due to an accident or illness. Work-site insurance covers a company’s cancer, accident and critical illness plans.

With rising health insurance costs, these plans have become extremely popular in the past several years and can be made available on a group or individual platform basis.

For individuals unable to afford health insurance for their families, these plans are typically inexpensive and pay the member directly in the event of a claim.

Other alternatives employers are looking to add to benefits packages are retirement plans, more sick and vacation days, tuition reimbursement and flexible work arrangements. 

“The pandemic has changed people’s motivations,” ZipRecruiter economist Julia Pollak told The Wall Street Journal. “Employers may need to be patient, as vaccines are still being rolled out, and may have to become more flexible in order to find workers.”

You may be reading this wondering about your next step. I recommend looking back over the past 12 months to determine your company’s turnover cost. According to a 2021 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the turnover rate  was 57.3% in 2020.

Analyze the cost to hire, train, terminate and place employment ads, and take a portion of this money to invest in your people by enhancing the benefits you offer. That’s an investment in their future with your company.

We are in an ultracompetitive market, so enable your employee benefits package and perks to be what keeps and attracts great talent.

Erica Gaynor is an adviser and account executive at Ollis/Akers/Arney. She can be reached at erica.gaynor@ollisaa.com.

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