Small business owners have been hit especially hard by the recession. The combined effects of the credit crunch and the drop in business activity have made it difficult for SMBs to compete, especially for top talent. On top of that, many SMBs cannot afford to offer the kinds of employee benefits that their larger counterparts, companies with 500+ employees, do.
A MetLife survey indicates that while only 24% of employees at companies with fewer than 50 employees are very satisfied with benefits, up to 50% of employees at large companies like their benefits. The MetLife study also notes that increased satisfaction about benefits is linked to general employee satisfaction. But there is an upside for SMBs. For decades, health insurance benefits have been an emotional and expensive topic. All that is about to change with the pending nationalized health care program. According to MetLife analysts, SMBs can shift the focus and win employee satisfaction by offering improved benefits in non-health areas.
- Dental – SMBs should review plans and offer specific dental services that employees value. Plans should also focus on preventive services. According to MetLife statistics, more companies (36%) with fewer than 50 employees pay all dental coverage than the 00+ employee companies (16%) do.
- Disability – MetLife statistics show that SMBs are more likely (45%) to pay the full cost of disability income protection than large companies (27%). However, only 51% of small companies offer this type of coverage while 87% of large companies do. To keep costs down, SMBs could shift to a partial pay model and add this benefit for more employees.
- Wellness – Currently only 27% of SMBs have a wellness program while 36% of large companies do. These programs can include the following low-cost options: discounted gym or fitness class memberships, lunchtime fitness circuit – walking program – for all employees or arranging for healthier options in vending machines and company break rooms.
Insurance companies are actively marketing these alternative benefits programs to SMBs. After the strains of the recession, more employers and employees are interested in a work-life balance that ensures a healthier and more productive workforce.[Source: Building a Better Benefits Program Without Breaking The Budget. MetLife. 2010. Web. 22 Jul. 2010]