Are You Ready for the New Age of Employee Benefits?

June 2017—

Is your small business’s approach to employee benefits stuck in the past? The workforce is evolving rapidly, and your employee benefits offerings need to keep pace if you expect to attract, engage and retain top employees.

MetLife recently polled both employers and employees for their 15th annual Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS), Work Redefined: A New Age of Benefits. Here’s what MetLife found:

Workforce Trends

Diversity: The workforce is more diverse than ever before—and that trend is only going to grow. The rise of single women and Millennials, in particular, will have a huge impact on the workforce in the next five years, employers in the survey say. Nontraditional family relationships, such as single parenting and same-sex couples, are also driving a need for a wider range of employee benefits.

Retention: In this time of very low unemployment, employers are understandably concerned about losing their best workers. That’s likely why when asked to rank their top benefits priorities, more employers (83%) chose retaining employees as an important benefits objective – even over controlling benefit costs (79%).
Harmony: With work and life blending, employees are looking for solutions that help them have more than just balance. Employees want employers to offer benefits that support the whole being – which includes their physical, financial and family wellbeing. For example, almost half (49 percent) of employees want their employers to offer wellness programs that reward healthy behavior.

Evolving Your Employee Benefits

If you want your small business to retain the best employees and to compete for talent, you need to evolve your benefits experience to take account of your employees’ diverse needs and goals. Here are five strategies to help you do so:

Offer a breadth of benefits options. Employees at different life stages, of different ages and in different salary ranges have different needs. Younger employees are overloaded with student debt, while older workers worry about providing for their children’s educations and saving for retirement. To meet the needs of everyone from single Millennials to Baby Boomers, your business should offer a variety of different health, financial, wellness and other benefits. You can have employees pay for some of them—which more than half of employees are willing to do, so they can get the benefits they want.

Provide tailored solutions. Given the diversity of today’s workforce, there’s no way a one-size-fits-all benefits plan can possibly make everyone happy. In fact: 74 percent of employees in the survey say customized benefits are an important factor in accepting a new job, so offer them the ability to customize from a menu of benefits. Customized benefits are a bigger deciding factor in taking a new job than the opportunity to work from home or remotely.

Enlist benefits expertise. Handing employees a sheaf of papers or sending them to a benefits website isn’t always enough to get them to sign up for benefits. Many employees of all ages prefer one-on-one assistance in understanding and choosing benefits. An employee benefits broker or consultant can guide employees through their options and help them make smart choices. (You’ll also benefit from their expertise in offering the right benefits for your employees).

Provide clear information. Employees care about their benefits—but if they aren’t fully educated about them, they likely don’t understand exactly how valuable those benefits are. Provide clear information about the options so your employees can make smart decisions about the benefits that fit their needs. Your broker and/or carrier can provide important assistance on communications.

Simplify enrollment. Look for a benefits plan that makes it easy for employees to enroll. When employees can enroll, access and use their benefits easily and conveniently, they enjoy a better benefits experience, which means higher job satisfaction overall.

When you provide the benefits your employees want, they’ll feel more secure and be more satisfied. You’ll have more productive and more loyal employees—and a more successful business. Work with your broker or consultant to implement these five strategies and find the perfect mix of benefits to keep your employees engaged, happy and loyal, both now and in the future.

(First published on SmallBizDaily.com)

About the Author

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Weekly, a consulting company specializing in small businesses and entrepreneurship. Sign up for free small business stories and tips at smallbiztrends.com.