Inexpensive Perks You Should Offer Your Employees

Employee turnover costs companies thousands. There’s the cost of lost productivity, recruitment, hiring, and training. But what can a company offer to keep employees from leaving?

Employees stay or go for a variety of reasons, but what benefits a company offers can make a difference. Not all employee perks need to be big or expensive. There are a lot of less expensive benefits that companies can offer to make their employees feel valued. Sometimes a little can go a long way.

Keep Your Employees Nourished

A well-nourished employee is a productive employee. Providing free or at-cost snacks can provide much-needed energy during the workday. If the available snacks are healthy, the company can help employees reach health and nutrition goals.

Celebrate Birthdays

On special occasions like employee birthdays, offering cake to celebrate can show employees that they’re appreciated. The rest of your staff will enjoy the break and camaraderie. The value of providing birthday celebrations far outweighs the actual cost of the cake.

Free Coffee

The world runs on coffee. Some employees don’t function well until they’ve had their first cup in the morning. Providing free coffee can help your employees be productive more quickly. Not charging for the coffee can go a long way towards earning loyalty and motivation from your employees.

A well-caffeinated workforce is a productive and happy workforce. Keep the coffee flowing and your business will benefit in profits.

Help Them Avoid Burnout

Burnout can seriously affect an employee’s productivity. It can also cause up to 50% of staff turnover. Fortunately, many of the benefits that can help employees avoid burnout are inexpensive to offer.

Flexible Hours

Offering flextime allows employees to make their own schedule to best fit their needs. Employees may come in early to leave early, or stay late to make up for having arrived late. Some may take breaks in the middle of the day for appointments or to pick up kids from school.

The key factor is allowing employees to make their own schedules. They’ll feel trusted and valued and their schedules will be optimized to fit their lifestyles.

Working from Home

Allowing employees to telecommute shows that you trust them to work productively from home. Studies show that employees are more productive at home, away from the distractions of coworkers. It costs the company nothing to offer this benefit and video conferencing software means that employees don’t miss anything away from the office.

Telecommuting doesn’t have to be a full-time benefit. Employees could be allowed to work a few days a week from home. Or specific days could be set aside for all employees to work from home. The more employees work from home, the less the company has to spend on office expenses.

Reminder: ACA Information Reporting Deadlines Approaching

Form 1095 Furnishing Deadline is March 4

The IRS deadlines for filing and furnishing Forms 1094 and 1095 are fast approaching. As a reminder:

  • Employers with 50 or more full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) generally must furnish a Form 1095-C to all full-time employees no later than March 4, 2019.
  • Self-insured employers with fewer than 50 or more full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) generally must furnish a Form 1095-B to all responsible individuals—typically the primary insured, an employee or former employee, or other related person named on the application for insurance—no later than March 4, 2019.  
  • All Forms 1094 and 1095 must be filed with the IRS no later than February 28, 2019 (or April 1, 2019, if filing electronically).
Need to attract millennials? Offer student loan benefits!

If you want to attract and retain millennials, it’s all about the benefits. And no perks are more sought after among this group than student loan benefits.

Ten years ago, millennials flocked to employers offering free snacks and ping-pong tables, but as this demographic matures, they seek more meaningful benefits from their company with long-term results. Similarly, growing companies have a hyper-sensitive need to appeal to the millennial group because they will soon make up a clear majority of the workforce.

Focused on their financial futures

We talk to our client’s millennial staff all the time about their needs. My team also talks to our clients, most of which are millennials, every day about how important their financial future is to them.

What we’ve learned is that most millennials have lofty goals, and if a company can help them achieve those goals by supporting their financial future beyond just an income, they have a strong chance of attracting top-performing talent. Millennials also focus on values, so if a company can demonstrate how they support and reflect their employees’ values – financial and otherwise – that goes a long way.

Student loan debt is considered an epidemic in our country and is a major obstacle to the financial independence and goals that millennials seek.  Those with student loans are constantly looking for ways to contribute savings to their payments – from more practical strategies like refinancing or taking on a “side hustle,” to extremes like selling their eggs or participating in medical trials.

Enlightened companies are beginning to recognize how student loan repayment programs can benefit their employees by enabling financial independence, which naturally creates a more positive outlook on their professional and personal life. According to a recent study we conducted with LendEdu, we found that 58% of millennials would prefer student loan refinancing benefits from employers over additional vacation days – pretty powerful! This shows, plain and simple, how millennials are looking for benefits and employers that support their financial well-being.

Offering a student debt repayment benefit reinforces that employers care about the same things their employees do, establishing trust and demonstrating how the company and staff have the same values. It also helps to boost employee morale and satisfaction, and a satisfied workforce is one that’s likely more productive, committed to their team’s success and loyal to their company.

Employers as advocates

On the recruitment side, this benefit allows employers to attract top-performing millennials who seek employers that advocate for their financial health. Companies that are first to introduce this benefit are shaping their brand perception as one that’s invested not only in the financial health of their employees, but in doing good for people facing an extreme burden.

In a time where job switching has become more common – and where 50% of millennials carry student loan debt – student loan refinancing benefits can help encourage employees to stick around for the long-haul. This benefit establishes trust and demonstrates that employers care deeply about the financial future and overall well-being of their staff, which, for millennials, is far more appealing than most “work perks.”

 

 

What Is an Employee Benefits Broker?

When you hear the word “broker,” what comes to mind? Insurance? Real estate? Brokers are typically people who have access to several options (in whatever their specialty is) and can help you narrow down your choices. Employee benefits brokers are exactly that: people who have access to (and information about) various employee benefit options who can help you narrow down your offerings by providing their input and expertise on the matter.

It’s important to note, however, that not all employee benefits brokers are the same. Some may work for one organization, such as a large health insurance provider, and therefore steer you only through choices from that provider. Others may not be tied to only one provider but may only specialize in one type of benefit. Still others may have a larger base of benefit options to consider but may or may not have as much depth of knowledge across all of the choices. There are a lot of things to consider.

What Can an Employee Benefits Broker Do?

When selecting an employee benefits broker, be sure to know which of these topics (below) are most important to you, and confirm that the broker you select can assist with those specific concerns. Not all brokers will perform every item on the list.

Here are some of the things an employee benefits broker may be able to provide to an employer:

  • Information and assistance in choosing various forms of insurance, including health, life, disability, dental, vision, and more. Note that not all brokers offer the full range of insurance options, but a large majority of benefits brokers specialize in insurance in some capacity.
  • Compliance information, helping the employer to ensure it stays compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and any other regulations that are relevant for the benefits on offer.
  • Advice on how to minimize total costs, such as how to reduce total premiums.
  • Assistance with employee communications related to benefit enrollment.
  • Contract review and negotiation (leverage) with the benefit providers to get a good deal. They may be able to create a customized insurance package for your organization.
  • Assistance in resolving problems. A broker may be able to act as a go-between for the employer to help resolve any problems with claims or administration of the benefits.
  • Analysis of your existing benefits and claims to provide advice on changes and potential cost savings.
  • Advice on changes to benefit packages based on your employee demographics, as well as analysis of previous utilization rates.
  • Direct assistance to employees who have benefit, coverage, or claims questions or need help with claims.
  • Education for employees about their options during open enrollment.

Remember, not all brokers provide all of the above services. It pays to ask in advance which of these items will be provided. The more services a broker provides, the greater he or she assists the organization and the employees. But there are also costs to consider.

Once you know what functions you’d like from an employee benefits broker, that’s not the end of the story. Here are some other considerations:

  • Any broker who is providing insurance will likely have to be licensed to provide this. Consider whether this individual will need licenses across multiple states to help serve your business or whether you may need multiple brokers who are licensed in different geographic areas. If you do, this may be solved by utilizing a firm with expertise across more than one location.
  • While some people may use the terms interchangeably, an employee benefits broker is not necessarily the same thing as an employee benefits consultant. Some would argue that an employee benefits consultant goes beyond what a broker does by providing even more in-depth consulting and decision-making assistance to the employer and the employees. A benefits consultant may be more likely to be able to assist with multiple types of benefits beyond just insurance. Consider which option you need. Note that fee structures may also differ for consultants versus brokers.
  • Brokers may work for or have contracts with specific insurers. The employer should ask what carriers the broker evaluates before making recommendations. It’s not necessarily a problem if the broker works with a specific insurer—it may mean you get greater discounts. But know what you’re getting and what trade-offs you’re making.
  • Brokers have fees, of course. These fees are typically bundled into the coverage provided. Ask about this up front and whether there are any additional fees. Some brokers instead operate on a flat fee based on your specific needs.

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