One way to compete in the labor force with large corporations seeking to attract and retain talented employees is to offer a menu of benefits. How can you do this without busting your budget?
You don’t have to pick up the tab for the voluntary benefits that employees choose from this menu. You only pay the minor administrative costs. Here are some voluntary benefits to consider:
1. Identity Theft Protection
It’s no secret that identity theft is rampant (PDF), and anyone who is victimized can spend considerable amounts of hours and money fixing the problem. Think of the impact that being victimized can have on an employee. Consider offering an identity theft protection program to employees. Some options:
ID Shield. An employee’s individual coverage is under $10 per month.
LifeLock. LifeLock offers volume discounting so pricing depends on the number of employees enrolled.
2. Pet Insurance
According to one source, every six seconds a pet owner faces a vet bill of more than $1,000.
When an employee’s pet becomes ill or injured, the cost of care can be significant. An employee can reduce out-of-pocket costs (and, on some plans, obtain discounts for wellness and other care) by carrying pet insurance.
One site claims this is the fastest growing employee benefit. All you have to do is make employees aware of this option; anyone interested can take it from there. Some options include:
Embrace. Cost: Call for a quote at 800-511-9172.
HealthyPaws. Cost: Starting at $15/month for cats; $25/month for dogs.
PetFirst. Cost: Plans vary, starting at $37/month.
3. Long-term Care Insurance
Employees concerned about their future health care needs and who understand that Medicare won’t pay for long-term care may want to have long-term care insurance. This will protect their life savings and provide peace of mind.
Small businesses can offer employees the option of buying their long-term care insurance; coverage can continue when they leave the job. Having the company arrange for the opportunity to buy this coverage may give employees group rates (i.e., lower rates than they’d paid if they purchased their coverage individually).
The advantages to employers and employees are listed by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.
Employers know they can offer discounts for their own products and services, and doing this within limits is a tax-free fringe benefit (PDF). But employers can arrange for discounts from other companies to benefit their staff. Some resources:
Corporate Perks. This savings portal gives employees access to discounts at over 30,000 merchants (e.g., Macy’s, BestBuy, Priceline). Employers can customize their program.
Working Advantage. This is a savings portal for more than 10,000 companies and their 10 million employees. Discounts are available for amusements, travel, and merchant gift certificates.
5. Wellness Programs
Encouraging employees’ good health is win-win, for the company and staff. Some small businesses may think that the cost of these programs is prohibitive. It’s true that some wellness programs may be costly, but there are some low-cost and no-cost options:
Provide nutritional snacks (e.g., fruit) and refrain from having unhealthy snacks (e.g., salty or sugary items).
Make nutritional information handy.
Sponsor a company’s sports team.
Provide information about local resources for smoking cessation and weight loss programs.
Note: In light of Affordable Care Act rules, wellness programs offering incentives and rewards are a minefield that can produce problems for employers despite good intentions. Make sure you run any rewards-based wellness program past a benefits expert.
These aren’t the only voluntary benefits you can offer. The options are limitless. Use your imagination to find benefits that will be appreciated by your staff.
by Barbara Weltman