How to Get Employee Benefits for a Small Business
So you’ve decided to offer employee benefits at your small business. What now?
Figuring out how to get benefits for your small business (without breaking the bank) can be a daunting task. Most small business HR teams are working with a tight budget, low bandwidth, and limited resources.
Still, employee benefits are an investment — not only in the health of your employees but in the future of your business. They help provide stability for your employees’ lives, both on and off the clock, so they can bring their best to their jobs. Benefits also give your business a competitive edge in the talent market, so you can recruit (and retain) great employees.
Whether you’re just getting started or you’re looking to improve your current small business employee benefits package, here’s your step-by-step guide on how to get benefits for your employees.
1. First, find a great benefits broker
This is number one for a reason. Your employee benefits broker is absolutely essential to the success of your benefits strategy – and this is one area where you can’t afford to settle.
Your broker should be your partner through every step of the process. They also should support your team in year-round benefits management, acting as an unofficial team member. Pair with the wrong broker and your thinly-spread HR team will be taking on a new list of obligations they probably don’t have the capacity to handle.
You’ll want to find a benefits broker who specializes in supporting small businesses. That’s because large and small businesses manage benefits very differently. Small business benefits brokers are already familiar with the unique needs of an SMB. They can help you build a package to meet your needs, stay within budget, and keep pace with your industry.
2. Consider your budget
Take a hard look at your business’s current spend, business goals, and financial outlook, then determine what’s feasible for your benefits budget. It may also help to look into the typical benefits packages for your industry and geographic location, then chat with your broker about what that might cost.
Benefits are often one of the largest expenses for any business. Still, they’re an important investment in your talent, retention, and culture. In other words, you definitely want to find a good value, but this isn’t an area where you want to skimp and save too much.
But when you’re working with a great benefits broker, you won’t have to choose between your benefits and your bottom line. Your broker should partner closely with your team to build a benefits plan that can meet your needs, your values, and your budget.
3. Determine which types of benefits will work best for your employees
Now comes the fun part: choosing the benefits you’ll offer to your employees.
Let’s get this out of the way — if you want to stay competitive and support your employees, you definitely want to offer the big three: health, vision, and dental. These are generally considered tablestakes, regardless of industry or employee demographics.
Outside of the big three, you can get creative with your selection of ancillary benefits. Ancillary benefits, also sometimes referred to as supplemental benefits, are additional benefits that an employer may offer to employees in addition to their core health and retirement benefits. For instance, pet insurance, gym benefits, healthcare navigation – those are all ancillary benefits.
When deciding which ancillary benefits to offer, take a look at your employee population’s needs. You can do this by assessing prior utilization data (if you have it); rolling out benefits surveys to your employees; and checking out benchmarks from similar companies of your size, industry, and geographic area.
Your broker should help with this process. As benefits experts, they can draw from benchmarking data and professional experience to help add context to your decisions.
4. Choose the right carriers, vendors, and plans for your needs
Over the last couple of years, the benefits space has grown at the speed of light. Now there are thousands of vendors out there, with solutions for nearly every need your employees may have.
Too much choice can be overwhelming, but that is where a great broker comes in. Your broker can help you navigate the sea of vendors, determine the must-haves of your coverage, and choose the best partners for your needs and your employees’ needs. They'll take the lead on finding and recommending vendors and plans.
5. Collaborate with your broker in rolling out benefits to your employees
You want to be sure your employees understand the benefits offered to them, so they can choose and use them confidently. Your broker should lead the way to help make this happen.
Of course, open enrollment is the biggest (and most obvious) opportunity for stand-up employee benefits education. But benefits literacy is a year-round gig, and your broker should step up to guide you (and your employees) through the process. Whether your employees are still getting to know their new benefits, or they’re running into roadblocks while using them throughout the year, you should be able to turn to your broker for guidance.
In short, choosing the right benefits broker is the most important step toward building a successful employee benefits strategy for any small business. Ready to kickstart step one and find a broker with small business expertise? Talk to one of our experts today.