Small Business Guide to Creative Employee Benefits

When it comes to employee benefits, health insurance, retirement accounts and sick days, they are often standard at larger companies. To set your small business apart, you’ve got to think more creatively. Here are 10 great ideas I hope you can benefit from:

 

  1. Free food: Try keeping the break room stocked with free snacks, soda, and bottled water. You could even do something more significant, like providing a catered lunch on a weekly basis. The productivity is higher each day/week because they don’t have to leave for lunch.
  2. Four-day workweek: A three-day weekend once in awhile could make your employees not only happier but also more productive. A four-day workweek allows more time for employees to restore, if you will, their energy levels.
  3. Unlimited vacation: This policy speaks mostly about your company’s values. It sends a really clear message to employees that you care about them, that you want them to spend time with their families and that you want them have a high quality of life. When people feel cared for by their company or employer, they are much more likely to do great work.
  4. Professional development: Employees want to work for companies that help them advance their careers. Paying for classes, certifications and conferences is a major draw. Another idea, however, is establishing a mentoring program between employees.
  5. Personal development: Employees place a high value on work-life balance. Consider offering personal development benefits. One way to do so is by paying for the services of a life coach. Another is by offering lunch-and-learn events. You can have your bank come in, for instance, and help people learn how to get a mortgage, when the right time is to refinance or how to use their savings account.
  6. Massage therapy: Sometimes the greatest opportunities are the simplest things, like paying a massage therapist to come for two hours on Friday afternoons to give chair massages. This helps your employees relax and relieve stress.  
  7. Flexible working: Giving employees the option to work from home shows that you care about work-life balance. So does letting them come in late or leave early when they need to.
  8. Gym memberships: Fitness and keeping healthy is very important.  If you don’t have the space for weights and a treadmill, consider gifting employees a gym membership or negotiating discounted memberships at a nearby facility.
  9. Community service: Companies that offer time off for employees to volunteer or participate in community service projects earn points with their community and their workforce.
  10. Voluntary benefits: Employers who can’t afford to pay for dental insurance, life insurance or disability insurance can still offer them. You could give your employees—through payroll deductions—the option of accumulating a block of hours for an attorney to help them with the assembly of their will or the closing of a house.

 

Highest Regards,

Stacia

 

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Disability Insurance: The Omitted Employee Benefit

You may have noticed the three letter code LTD on your paycheck next to a small dollar amount that is deducted every period. It stands for long-term disability insurance, and it pays to have it to help continue to provide for your family if you become injured or ill. Unfortunately, many employees go without it. Despite more and more employees offering long-term disability insurance as a benefit to their employees, the number of employees who opt-in is going down.

The Council for Disability Awareness, a group that represents 19 member insurance insurance companies, found this troubling trend in its latest review of claims data in 2013. Over 213,000 employers offer long-term disability through those companies, which is a slight increase from data collected in 2011. Yet the number of employees receiving the coverage declined approximately 1.5% to 32.1 million last year.  

Barry Lundquist, president of the council, cites a couple reasons for this change: primarily that employers are focused on compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance provisions, which causes employers to decide to deal with other benefits like disability later.

Additionally, employers only offer disability insurance as a voluntary benefit, meaning that the employee pays the full cost. Historically, the employer has paid for it, or paid a portion. In that case, the employees would be automatically enrolled. With voluntary plans, enrollment stagnates at about 40%, Lundquist says.

Likely due to the improving economy, the number of people receiving long-term disability payments declined for the second year in a row. Yet total claim payments increased by 1.6% to $9.8 billion in 2013.

If you do have disability insurance, it is important to determine what you do have and if it’s enough. A typical benefit would be 60% of your salary, up to a $5,000 monthly payout. Check if your employer allows you to buy more coverage (extra premiums can be really cheap). If your employer coverage isn’t enough, consider buying a personal policy.

Highest regards,

Stacia

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