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The Benefits of Employee Benefits

May 27th, 2011 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

With the economy improving, your employees are likely considering their job options for the first time in the last few years. If you’re worried about keeping key employees on board, attracting new employees to help you handle increased demand, or simply rewarding the employees who have worked hard for you during the recession, what employee benefits will have the best results?

The 2011 National Workplace Benefits Survey, recently released by HR consultancy Employers Group, surveyed more than 400 employers to determine the current state of employee benefits. Among the findings:

  • Despite the still-rocky economy, nearly 70 percent of companies do not plan to cut their benefit packages for employees in the coming year.
  • For those who are increasing benefits, the biggest focus is on health coverage, with 24 percent of companies planning to increase funding in that area.
  • Retaining employees is a key goal behind companies’ benefits strategies in 2011.

Companies offer benefits for a range of reasons, including:

  • Retain existing employees, 39 percent
  • Motivate existing employees, 25 percent
  • Attract new talent 19 percent
  • Reward existing employees, 17 percent

The survey also determined the most popular benefits offered by companies. Medical insurance, dental insurance and 401(k) or other retirement plans topped the list, all offered by more than 95 percent of companies. Also high on the list were life insurance, prescription drug coverage and vision coverage, offered by more than 90 percent of responding firms.

Clearly, medical coverage and retirement are big issues for employeesyou’re your company can’t afford to offer health care coverage, consider offering employees some type of financial assistance with health care, such as a monthly amount they can put toward the coverage of their choice. (Talk to your accountant about your options for providing health care coverage under the new health insurance laws.)

A big part of retaining employees for your small business is simply showing that you care. While formal employee assistance/counseling programs (which help with issues such as drug and alcohol addiction) were offered by more than 70 percent of responding companies, if this is too costly for your small company, simply being understanding of employees’ personal problems and accommodating their needs is sometimes all that’s required. (Talk to your attorney if an employee’s personal issues are affecting their work performance to a substantial degree.)

Finally, some of the desired and most popular benefits are ones that even small companies can often provide. A mobile phone or PDA was offered by 65 percent of companies—surprisingly low, if you ask me. A mobile phone/PDA can not only help your employees feel trusted and professional, but also benefits your business by helping them work more efficiently. And entertainment discounts, offered by more than 60 percent of companies, can often be negotiated with providers such as movie theaters and local amusement parks.

Last, but not least, some 48 percent of companies offered an education supplement. Paying for your staff’s continuing education is probably beyond your budget, but you can offer them opportunities for professional learning via industry seminars, webinars and conferences, which are sometimes low-cost or even free. Try saving money by sending one employee to a seminar or conference, then have him or her report back on what was learned and train coworkers.

Image by Flickr user Tess Watson (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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Posted in Small Business, Workforce | 5 Comments »

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