By WILLIAM E SUMMERS, V
In today’s economic climate, employees are anxious about many aspects of their jobs, including benefit plans. Small business owners must plan ahead in their budgets for benefit costs, working with employees to create the best possible plans.
To attract good employees, small business owners should offer options such as group health, long-term disability insurance and life insurance. Voluntary plans such as dental and voluntary dependent life are additional options. Usually, there is no cost to employers for offering these benefits. Not surprisingly, the most popular voluntary plan among small businesses is dental coverage.
Some employers go beyond traditional offerings. Group long-term care is a valuable benefit, one that many businesses include because of the number of “baby boomers” in the workforce. Maintaining healthy lifestyles is important to many, and some business owners have responded with annual health assessments and wellness plans with incentives for good health. Promoting healthier lifestyles can also help business owners save money on benefit plans. Healthy alternatives in vending machines promote a more health-conscious lifestyle. And owners should promote annual wellness checks if they are part of benefits packages.
Educating employees can also save money. Make sure they are aware of generic alternatives to any prescription medication they use regularly. Using generics can add up to savings for employees and help keep plan cost down for employers.
Encouraging employees to search for the best rates for healthcare will not only save them money, but will benefit the business owner as well. Many online tools are now widely available, making it simple for customers to compare rates. Owners should make employees aware of these resources.
Check out High Deductible Health Plans to see if they are good fits for your business needs. The plans are often paired with Health Savings Accounts or Health Reimbursement Arrangements. Many small businesses favor these types of plans because they allow more flexibility in regards to healthcare dollars.
To develop a benefit plan, find a trusted agent who can explain the options. It’s crucial to discuss your company’s needs and budget with the agent. Once you’ve agreed upon essential benefits, it’s time to gather bids from insurance carriers. Bids from several companies will allow for more competitive rates. Developing and implementing benefits can take some time – around two to three weeks – so allow extra time in your schedule.
A budget can help when putting together a benefit plan. Discovering which plans are most utilized by your employees will make it easier to allocate appropriate dollars to each portion of the plan. Going into the process with an open mind will serve you well, too.
Finally, listening to your employees’ input is important. This shows your concern for their wellness and proves you appreciate their opinions on important issues. If a benefit is popular, you can forecast participation and discover what is most valuable to your
William E Summers, V is Senior Vice President of Central Bank of Jefferson County. You can reach him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.