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1 Myths and Misperceptions: What employee benefits can do for small businesses Brighter ideas in small business benefits

2 Table of Contents Myths and Misperceptions: What Employee Benefits Can Do for Small Businesses... 2 Non-Medical Benefits: A Big Opportunity for Brokers... 3 Misperception #1: Adding Ancillary Benefits Would Break the Company s Budget... 4 Misperception #2: Administration of Group Benefits Is Too Time-Consuming... 5 Misperception #3: Dental Insurance through the Workplace Isn t Important... 6 Misperception #4: Benefits Won t Help My Company Attract Employees... 7 Misperception #5: Benefits Won t Help Me Retain My Existing Employees

3 Myths and Misperceptions: What Employee Benefits Can Do for Small Businesses According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 98 percent of businesses in the U.S. have fewer than 100 employees, accounting for approximately 35 percent of the U.S. workforce. All told, the small business economy comprises 6 million businesses. 1 As this segment grows, the challenges facing small business owners are becoming more well-known: the uncertain economic climate; employee retention and recruiting; the evolving regulatory environment and taxes; the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on small businesses and the cost of providing insurance for employees are all gaining media attention. A comprehensive employee benefits program can play a role in addressing these challenges, but it can do even more for employee retention, acquisition and satisfaction. Often, the advantages of offering a robust benefits program including protection products beyond healthcare are not fully recognized by small business owners and their teams. This can lead to some myths and misperceptions about benefits and how they can impact a small business strategy. In small businesses, workers typically wear many hats, and when it comes to employee benefits, most small businesses do not have dedicated human resource teams. In fact, 72% of business owners surveyed by the National Small Business Association for the 2014 Small Business Health Care Survey indicated they were primarily responsible for handling benefit offerings, while 24% delegate it to staff and just It s important for brokers to take the lead in educating employers about what these benefits can do for their businesses. 4% outsource the responsibility. 2 Clearly small business owners and their teams have a lot on their plates. Because of this, there can be crucial pieces of information that may go overlooked or misunderstood when they consider their employee benefits offerings. Yet as non-medical benefits grow in strategic importance, understanding what to offer and how to make these products work within a small business model becomes more critical. In order to help small business owners and decision makers make the most out of ancillary benefit offerings and alleviate their concerns about offering them, it s important for brokers to take the lead in educating employers about what these benefits can do for their businesses. 2

4 Non-Medical Benefits: A Big Opportunity for Brokers Though the cost of health insurance continues to be the top concern of small business owners, 3 ancillary benefits such as life, dental, disability and vision are working their way into the conversation as they emerge as critical drivers of employee productivity, loyalty and retention. They also present an opportunity for brokers looking to expand their client base or offer new products. By taking the time to understand the unique needs of small companies and consulting with business owners about the benefits options that can best serve their employees needs, brokers can help small business clients find the right solutions that can help them achieve their business objectives. What follows are five of the most common misperceptions about offering these ancillary benefits and how brokers can help correct employer impressions. Five common misperceptions Adding Ancillary Benefits Would Break the Company s Budget Administration of Group Benefits Is Too Time-Consuming Benefits Won t Help Me Retain My Existing Employees Benefits Won t Help My Company Attract Employees Dental Insurance through the Workplace Isn t Important 3

5 Misperception #1: Adding Ancillary Benefits Would Break the Company s Budget For companies with two employees to companies with 99, there are affordable group dental, disability, vision and life insurance options available. That said, there are costs associated with setting up and offering these plans. Private employers spent an average of $31.32 per working hour on employee compensation in December 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries averaged $21.72 per hour and accounted for 69.4 percent of these costs, while benefits including healthcare averaged $9.60 and accounted for the remaining 30.6 percent. The costs per employee (basic salary, employment taxes and benefits) typically hover in the range of 1.25 to 1.4 times the employee s base salary e.g., the real cost of a $50,000/year employee might run from $62,500 to $70, Over half of all employees, 55.5%, are willing to bear the cost of their benefits in order to have a choice of benefits that meet their needs. But the bigger truth is that adding benefits doesn t have to mean adding to the benefits budget. Over half of all employees, 55.5%, are willing to bear the cost of their benefits in order to have a choice of benefits that meet their needs, according to MetLife s 13th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study. The study also finds that 65% of employees agree with the statement having benefits customized to meet my needs would increase my loyalty to my employer, and employees who are satisfied with their benefits are nearly four times as likely to be satisfied with their job. It is important to keep these insights in mind as competitors are likely offering valuable benefits packages. A study from the Center for American Progress estimated that replacing an employee costs, on average, 20 percent of the employee s annual salary. So if a worker making $50,000 a year quits, you ll pay roughly $10,000 to cover the lost productivity costs and then recruit and train someone new. 5 It is therefore a better strategy for employers to focus on retaining key employees and driving increased satisfaction through benefits. This is especially important for small businesses, where the cost of replacing an employee may be higher because it may be less likely that other employees have been cross-trained to fill in the gap left behind by a departing employee or that they have the skills needed to help train a new staff member. Implication: The more employers understand today s options, the better they can balance cost and employee needs. For brokers, this represents a clear opportunity for education: discuss how the cost of benefits can be shared and that employees are willing to take some of the responsibility. Also, address the financial implications early on to show small business decision makers how non-medical benefits can be additive to their businesses (and not just depletive to their bottom lines). 4

6 Misperception #2: Administration of Group Benefits Is Too Time-Consuming Employers may be concerned about the cost of and time needed for benefits administration, which can burden a small firm that may not have dedicated HR staff. This need not be the case. Employers can seek guidance on optimizing administrative tools and services and work with their brokers or other outside vendors to find creative solutions addressing benefits administration. Many small businesses may not be aware of the advantages that new distribution channels such as private exchanges can offer. These exchanges, including examples like Liazon Bright Choices Exchange or Maxwell Health, offer non-medical benefits in addition to healthcare and allow for intuitive employee self-service and automated benefits selection, minimizing the burden on HR staff. Private exchanges take less time to implement and, in many cases, may offer employees greater options and a broader range of insurance products to choose from. In addition, private exchanges can offer an enhanced enrollment experience, featuring tools and tips that will enable employees to make better benefits decisions. Consolidating multiple coverages with a single carrier can reduce administration and increase efficiencies. MetLife s study found that less than half of employees strongly agree that their companyies benefit communications helped them to understand how much they would pay for specific services and effectively educated them on benefits. Business owners often lack the time or understanding to help their employees understand benefits, and making the time can be a daunting task for a business owner who lacks insurance expertise. Brokers and carriers can alleviate small business owners time concerns through resources and tools that can help educate employees and address their questions. Implication: Brokers should help their clients identify carriers that will take the time to understand their unique needs and recommend the programs that include the enrollment and administrative service solutions that fit those needs. Consolidating multiple coverages with a single carrier can reduce administration and increase efficiencies. Exploring new channels, such as private exchanges, can help identify opportunities for increasing benefit choice while reducing administrative burdens. Making carrier recommendations based on services, ease of implementation, educational resources and customer understanding as well as price instead of just price alone will ensure small business decision makers are getting the holistic support they need. 5

7 Misperception #3: Dental Insurance through the Workplace Isn t Important Dental insurance is a benefit that is in high demand and highly utilized by employees. Across employee age groups, the majority of employees say that they are interested in purchasing dental insurance at the workplace, with 63% of Gen Y and Boomers interested in purchasing dental insurance at work and more than half of Gen X interested in purchasing this coverage. Not only are employees interested in accessing dental insurance through the workplace, offering dental coverage can also have a payoff for the employer. According to the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP), individuals without dental insurance are less likely to obtain dental care, which means missed opportunities for prevention and early treatment of cavities and other issues that can turn into larger health complications down the road. In fact, the NADP finds that those without dental benefits report higher incidences of other illnesses: By offering dental benefits, employers can lay the foundation for a healthier, more productive workforce. 67 percent more likely to have heart disease; 50 percent more likely to have osteoporosis; 29 percent more likely to have diabetes. In terms of cost to employers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that more than 164 million work hours are lost each year due to dental problems alone. 6 Implication: By offering dental benefits, employers can capitalize on the link between oral health and overall health and lay the foundation for a healthier, more productive workforce. Small business brokers should discuss this link with their clients and ensure the full benefit of offering dental insurance is understood. 6

8 Misperception #4: Benefits Won t Help My Company Attract Employees According to a 2014 study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 76% of employees state that benefits are a very or extremely important factor in their decision to accept or reject a job offer. 7 This insight is critical for small business owners who may find recruiting high-quality employees a difficult task. Despite the important role benefits play in attracting top talent, a surprisingly small share of employers actively leverage their benefits programs to recruit employees. In fact, only 29% of respondents to the Society of Human Resource Management s (SHRM) 2014 Strategic Benefits Survey indicated they were doing so. 8 Implication: Brokers should lay out all of the ways small business owners can leverage the benefits they make available to employees. 76% of employees state that benefits are a very or extremely important factor in their decision to accept or reject a job offer. 7

9 Misperception #5: Benefits Won t Help Me Retain My Existing Employees Sometimes business owners focus so much on playing offense, they forget that defense wins championships as well. According to Glassdoor.com, 48% of employees are confident they can find a job that matches their compensation level within six months of starting a job search. 9 With that in mind, small business owners need to evaluate what else they are offering to employees above and beyond salary. What added perks will make employees feel valued enough to keep them from looking around in the first place? A robust benefits program can drive employee satisfaction and act as an important hedge against costly employee turnover. In a survey of hiring managers, HR professionals and workers, CareerBuilder reports that 58% of respondents identified better benefits as the best way to improve employee retention. 10 Better benefits means offering a range of benefits to meet a variety of employee needs this includes medical plus ancillary options that employees can choose from and pay for on their own. Employees who are satisfied with their benefits are nearly four times more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, according to MetLife s study, once again reinforcing the impact benefits can have on existing talent. Implication: Not offering a range of employee benefits options opens the door to competitors looking to attract high-performing employees. A robust benefits program can drive employee satisfaction and act as an important hedge against costly employee turnover. Benefits don t have to be a headache for small businesses. In fact, they can add significant value to employers and their hard-working employees. By understanding these potential misperceptions and helping small business clients rethink their beliefs about benefits, brokers often small business owners in their own right can strengthen their client relationships and grow everyone s businesses. 8

10 There are Significant Business Costs to Replacing Employees, Center for American Progress CS 2015 MetLife Inc. L [exp0716][All States][DC,GU,MP,PR,VI] PEANUTS 2015 Peanuts Worldwide LLC Metropolitan Life Insurance Company New York, NY

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