November 30, 2010

What benefits SHOULD I offer as a small employer?

At a time when small business owners are concentrating on efficiency of resources, many small businesses still consider benefits programs a key component in the ever-changing map of success. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most valued benefits by employees include retirement or pension plans, savings plans, healthcare benefits, life insurance, long-term care insurance, wellness programs, flexible spending accounts and childcare subsidies. 

So what benefits are we "required" to offer?  Believe it or not, the list of mandatory benefits is seemingly small.  For a small business owner with less than 4 employees, your "mandatory benefits" list includes Federal and State Unemployment and Social Security and Medicare (FICA) match.  As soon as you employ 4 or more individuals (1 or more in the construction industry), you become obligated to provide worker's compensation coverage.  The requirements grow more complex and extensive as you add 10, 15, 20, 50 employees or more.  But, back to the basics we must go...   

Different strokes for different folks, right?  Or not. . .  Let me take a brief moment of your time and remind you that it's all about design.  What are your company goals and objectives?  Your mission statement?  What makes you different from the next business?

If you are not planning on competing on price, then you must pay attention to the compensation and benefit design for your employees.  I cannot very easily compete on high quality, high-touch, and superior customer service with unwavering concern for human emotional needs when I strive to pay my employees below average wage for their work, provide no paid time off, or deny them access to voluntary benefits that add value to their total compensation.  No, we do not have to lose our shirts on benefits; however, our success and fortune is in the people that we hire to be the faces and voices in our companies.

Allow me to remind all of us that benefits are not all "costs" to the company.  Providing a positive environment to work in or fostering a collaborative team can be the greatest investment and benefit you can provide for your business - small OR large. 

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