Most small business employees dissatisfied with benefits

With health care costs continuously being shifted onto individuals, very few small business employees now say they are satisfied with their company’s benefit offerings — highlighting an opportunity for benefit advisers to work with employers to create more comprehensive benefit packages with employee needs in mind.

Only 12% of small business employees say they are extremely satisfied with their benefits and only 14% say their benefits package meets their current family needs extremely well, according to the Aflac Workforces Report for Small Businesses, released July 10.

What’s more, nearly six in 10 (57%) small-business workers said they’re likely to accept jobs with slightly lower compensation but better benefits.

Benefit advisers can offer strategic counsel to their clients about their workforces’ dissatisfaction with their benefits options, says Matthew Owenby, vice president of Human Resources at Aflac, adding that these findings demonstrate that the role of a broker or agent is more critical than ever. 

“Not only do brokers and agents need to educate employers about the importance of ensuring benefits offerings meet the needs of their workforce, but they also need to explain why providing better benefits is beneficial for businesses as well,” he tells EBA.

Preserving benefits offerings can go a long way toward keeping employees at the company, the survey found. More than one-third (38%) of small-business employees said maintaining their health care benefits is their most important benefits concern right now.

“It’s essential for employers to understand that offering robust benefits is vital to employee recruitment and retention,” says Owensby. “By offering the right benefits, employers can put themselves ahead of competitors that compete for top talent.”

Aflac’s small business workforces report, which includes responses from 596 small business benefit decision-makers and 1,467 employees at small companies, found 80% of those employees feel a well-communicated benefits package would make them less likely to leave their job.

“There is a huge fraction of the workforce that isn’t getting the most out of their benefits and the employers that leverage this knowledge to offer and communicate robust benefits to their workforce will beat out those who don’t when it comes to recruitment and retention,” he adds.

“Employers rely on the insight of advisers when making benefits decisions that will impact their companies’ performances and the personal and financial well-being of their workers for years to come,” he says.

Comprehensive packages

As employers continue to shift more health care costs to workers, a well-rounded, comprehensive benefit package is becoming increasingly important to employees.

The Aflac study found that 85% of small business employees consider voluntary benefits to be part of a comprehensive benefits program and 62% of workers at small companies see a growing need for voluntary insurance benefits today compared to years past. This is driven by rising medical costs, the increasing price of medical coverage, increasing deductibles and copays and a reduced number of benefits and/or amount of coverage by their employers.

“Ensuring that employers understand the advantage of offering a wide range of benefits options, including voluntary policies, by talking to them about the bigger picture is a must,” adds Owensby.

The study also revealed that small business employers, responding to the slowly growing economy and health care reform regulations, hired at a slower pace than medium or large companies, with 45% of small businesses having hired full-time workers in 2013, compared with 71% of mid-sized companies and 60% of large organizations. Twelve percent of small employers changed employee hours from full- to part-time in 2013 and 34% said they gave employees smaller raises in 2013 than in previous years, but only 24% said they plan to do the same this year and only 18% plan to eliminate or delay raises in 2014.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.