Are Voluntary Benefits the Right Solution?

The past few weeks have found me spending most of my time talking with the leaders of small businesses about employee benefits.  The starting place for most of these conversations has been the question, “what can I do about benefits when I don’t have any money in my budget to pay for that”?  It’s a great question and it touches lots of pieces of the small business owner’s team building strategy.

In a recent article Corporate Wellness Magazine hit this topic dead on. (see the article at  They wrote that the solution for many (most?) small businesses is to offer voluntary benefits.  This is most certainly the right option for almost every small business and there are lots of ways to put them in place.  Here are some things to consider.

  1.  Any business with 3 or more employees is potentially eligible to add voluntary benefits to their benefits plan.
  2. You have a number of options for insurance carriers to find the right fit for your small business.  While we prefer and usually recommend Aflac, they are not always the right solution and we believe every business should have an adviser who brings all of the options to the table.
  3. Voluntary benefits offer flexibility to the team because each individual can choose the benefit options that best meet their budget and best cover their individual or family risk.

Now consider this. Many small business owners in the process of exploring voluntary benefits discover that one of the best ways to attract new talent and reward their current team members is to offer to pay for one or more “supplemental” or “voluntary” products.  And the cost is surprisingly low.  Here’s an example:

We recently worked with a small business (only three employees) to help them develop a benefits strategy.  In the process we helped them figure out where to get health insurance for themselves without paying the high cost of an individual market place plan.  We also helped them review voluntary options with Aflac.  As we were going through those options the business owner had an ahh haa moment.  They realized they could offer every team member Accident/Injury coverage for less than $34.00 per month per employee.  When they did the math they figured out their total cost for this plan was equal to less than .20 cents per hour.  They had been considering offering a .50 cents per hour raise to their team.

The business owner discussed this with the employees and learned, much to their surprise, that the employees would rather have the benefit than the raise.  Why?  The raise, after taxes, would net the average employee somewhere around $18.00 per week.  The insurance plan would give them coverage to protect against accident or injury that could be worth thousands of dollars to the individual employees.  For this team, that mattered more than the small increase in weekly pay.

Here’s the point. Small business owners have options.  Too often the problem is that you don’t know what the options are.  We are here to help with that.  Contact us today to schedule a review of your benefits options. We promise, the time will be well spent.



Jobs, The Stock Market, and Your Business: I Have Good News and Bad News.

The Dow Jones Average passed over $25,000 for the first time in history yesterday.  Among the key drivers of the continuing growth in the market is the blistering pace of the US economy.  Over 250,000 new jobs were created in December and the pace seems to be continuing if not accelerating. Unemployment is at nearly historic lows across the US.  All of this is good news, right?  Well . . .

If you are an investor or an executive in a large business this is all great news.  The economy is growing at a strong pace and all the indicators available in the moment are positive for continued growth this year.  The Tax Reduction and Jobs bill seems to have had the desired short term effect of spurring new investment by big business in the US.  Jobs are being created at every level and opportunity is strong.  So what’s the bad news?

Talk to small business owners and you may discover that there is a growing problem finding, attracting, and keeping top employees.  Here’s the issue: when unemployment numbers approach “full employment” finding and keeping top talent becomes increasingly difficult.  Just like a hot real estate market creates demand and allows sellers to demand higher prices, so a hot employment market creates intense competition among employers for the best talent.  Big business attacks this challenge by increasing total compensation, offering improved working conditions, providing perks, and expanding benefits offerings.  How do small and medium sized businesses compete in this environment?

For many (most?) small businesses its a huge dilemma.  They want and need to have top people to grow and thrive, but they don’t believe they can afford to offer the higher compensation, perks, and benefits packages the big companies can.  But are they correct?  Are the benefits packages really beyond their reach?  Did you know that in most cases even the smallest of employers can actually offer a solid benefits program, often at no cost to the employer?

There are many different kind of benefits programs and insurance offerings.  Small employers have often not had the information they need to know how make a benefits/insurance package available that doesn’t break the budget.  In just the past three years we have worked with nearly 100 small firms to help them create a great benefits program that their employees love and their budget appreciates.  The key is understanding what is available and how to make it work for you.

Here’s the challenge: take 30 minutes in the next 30 days to learn what is possible and develop a plan to make it happen for your business.  Give us a call and we will be happy to talk with you about the possible.