In the second part of this series on the concept of Total Rewards, let’s talk about Benefits. When we mention benefits, most of us think of paid healthcare, first and foremost. But there is a range of offerings that make up a “benefit package.” Many present extremely low cost-benefit ratios – low cost with a high return on appreciation!
First, paid health care is arguably the most important benefit to employees. This category includes health, dental, drug, vision, disability (short & long term), employee assistance programs, and health savings accounts. Many small business owners, who are reinvesting profits back into fledging businesses, may not be able to offer healthcare during the startup phase. But consider researching and working them into your strategic plan. Doing so would enable you to offer an informed response to employees demonstrating concern for their future as well as that of the organization.
Second, wellness programs have been trending for some time. They offer balance between the employer’s concerns for cost containment and efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of the employee. These programs may be part of your provider’s offerings but consider establishing an employee committee to drive activities. Employees might promote a healthy pot luck or reducing BMI’s. If employees, rather than you or the provider, define what is important, the program has a greater chance of success.
Third, retirement planning and employer contributions are important to all ages. Of course, this is less important to a workforce in their 20’s, for instance, so if this is your demographic then you might consider bringing in a financial planner to do a “lunch and learn” for your staff. Help this demographic resolve credit issues, save for a house, car or higher education and then learn the importance of setting up these accounts once these major expenses are covered. Again, if you can’t offer these benefits now, slot them into the future.
Fourth, leave benefits may cost $ but if they reduce turnover they may save you $! Leave benefits include sick, vacation, holidays, personal, bereavement, maternity, paternity and more. When looking at the menu of options, consider…. If an entry level employee loses a day’s pay because they are sick, they may lose 20% of a week’s pay. Assess the impact of that loss on the employee and their family. Then extrapolate the cost to you if all eligible employees used the benefit in a year’s time. This will help perform the cost/benefit analysis affecting the employees and the organization.
Fifth, if you are a startup, consider zero to low cost benefits to supplement your Rewards Package. Flexible schedules, working from home, compressed workweeks, job sharing, training and development, career opportunities, career counseling, mentoring, recognition awards, referral bonuses, paid volunteer hours or days, payroll advances, transit subsidies, stock options or equity in the company, casual dress, snacks, meals, sponsored sports teams, company outings & picnics, kids and pets at work, company paraphernalia, discounts on merchandise and more – be creative!
Note that under the ACA, employers with 100 or more full time employees must provide “minimum essential coverage” or pay an assessment. Employers with over 50 full time employees have reporting responsibilities. This is not the headcount at the year’s end but counting all FT employees (or the equivalent) who worked for you at any time in the year.
Lastly, be sure you are offering what is important to employees. Providers can give you “utilization reports” or…. You can ask the employees!