Retaining the best talent means boosting benefits

For the first time in a decade, the U.S. employment market is making history. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported April 2018 job openings (6.7 million) were greater than the number of unemployed Americans (6.3 million). This is making it tougher for businesses to fill open positions. Further, the national unemployment rate fell to 3.8% in May, down a half-percentage point from a year earlier. Eleven states also reported significant unemployment declines in the past year.

It is now more important than ever for brokers to work with small group employers to stress the importance of offering strong employee benefits to attract and retain the best workers.

While a good salary is a strong job requirement for employees, health insurance and other benefits are equally —if not more — important. The Society for Human Resource Management and Colonial Life found the most important employee benefits are healthcare and personal welfare (health insurance, vision, etc.), along with preventive health and wellness programs.

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Brokers in tune with employee benefit trends are knowledgeable guides for small businesses looking to put together an attractive, cost-effective health and wellness package for existing and future employees.

Below are three tips on how to best educate business owners and workers on the value of health insurance and other employee benefits:

A retention and recruitment tool: According to SHRM, 73% of employees rank healthcare as the most important employer-sponsored benefit. A Benefitfocus survey found that 78 % of workers base their acceptance or rejection of a job offer, in part, on the employer’s health insurance package. Brokers can aim to increase their role as business counselors by taking the time to meet with their small business clients and discuss how benefits can help support ongoing employee retention and recruitment efforts.

Understand the competition: Because of the declining unemployment rate, employers are locked in a fierce battle for workers. One way businesses can stand out from the crowd is to understand how the competition structures their benefits packages. For example, workers with young families in need of more robust and flexible medical offerings may be drawn to companies that spotlight these benefits in a job listing, at in-person interviews or as part of the job offer. Professionals able to leverage their networks to determine what other companies in similar spaces include in their employee benefits are bound to reap the rewards now and in the future.

Communication is key: Many employees may not understand the full extent of employer-sponsored benefits. In fact, according to the 2017 State of Employee Benefits Health and Workplace Benefits Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only about half of employees (52%) say they understand their health benefits very or extremely well — and just 43% have a similar understanding of their other benefits. That may be because employees are alerted to benefits only once a year, during their open enrollment period. Offering business owners a pre-planned and transparent communication schedule to regularly remind workers, either digitally or in-person, to take advantage of existing and updated benefits can help brokers unlock additional lines of business.

The changing face of the national labor market has increased the value of workplace benefits, especially when it comes to employee recruitment and retention. Brokers able to counsel small businesses on how to competitively structure their benefits packages to compete with companies in the same space, while also regularly educating — and reminding — owners and their workforce of existing and new benefits, will increase their value as expert counselors for years to come.

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