Benefits and your small business: keeping talent while staying competitive

 Benefits are a consistent challenge for small businesses: how do you juggle your employees’ needs with the realities of resources and finances? Which benefits are important, which are “nice to have,” and which can you skip? For small business owners, getting this mix right can mean the difference between losing good people—or long-term success.

Beyond salary to real benefits

American small businesses—those with 100 employees or less—account for 98% of all American businesses, and accounted for 60% of all jobs created between 2008 and 2010, according to the Small Business Association (SBA). That said, less than half of those companies offer group insurance benefits for their employees, and in 2013, only 7% of companies planned to expand medical benefits for their employees.

There are many reasons why small businesses don’t always offer benefits: financial (too expensive), lack of expertise (the owner simply doesn’t know how or what to choose, and there’s no specialist on staff to help), or lack of interest. Some small businesses raise salaries to compensate. However, while employers cite salary as a key to retaining people, employees cite benefits—specifically non-medical benefits—as the number one reason to stay at a company, according to the SBA.

When 36% of small business employees are living paycheck-to-paycheck (according to the SBA), the benefits you offer can mean the difference between retaining your best people and losing them to bigger companies or competitors who can offer the benefits they need.

The solution: voluntary benefits packages

Small businesses can turn to a variety of voluntary benefits package providers to address this need, retain their best talent, and maintain employee morale. These benefits can include everything from pet insurance to accident insurance and disability—providing a much-needed financial safety net for your employees.

When choosing a voluntary benefits package provider, look for one that has experience with small businesses and offers a consultative approach. You don’t want a provider that uses a one-size-fits-all solution, because your business is unique, and your employees’ needs will be different than another business’ employees.

Good providers will offer this free of charge—and will offer education for your employees too, meaning you won’t need to hire an in-house expert (or become one yourself).

Learn more about benefits packages

To learn more about health care options, including how the Affordable Care Act might affect the benefits you’re able to offer employees, the SBA website has specific resources for you.

For information and resources about benefits packages, including options for what the best package provider might be for your business, visit