How SMBs can use health and other benefits to lure top talent

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There’s no doubt: One of the biggest issues affecting business today is attracting and retaining the talent they need to help their companies succeed. For small and midsized businesses (SMBs), the war for talent is intensifying as they feel increasing pressure to differentiate themselves from large companies.

So what can these businesses do to compete? For starters, they can ensure they offer a compelling benefits package.

According to ADP research, 75% of small businesses and 95% of midsized businesses currently offer health insurance — primarily to stay competitive with other companies vying for the best employees. Additionally, a separate ADP survey of 6,000 ADP TotalSource worksite employees, from companies with fewer than 150 worksite employees, found that 64% feel the benefits program their employer offers helped attract them to work there.

However, many SMB owners struggle to figure out which benefits will make the largest impact on attracting and retaining great employees without breaking the bank. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, here are areas to consider as you help your clients navigate the benefits landscape:

· Employees prioritize health insurance and retirement savings. According to a recent ADP survey, when asked about the benefits most important to them, employees said their top three are medical insurance, dental insurance and 401(k) retirement savings plans. While some employers must offer health insurance under the Affordable Care Act requirements or potentially be subject to a costly penalty, benefit advisers should ensure that their SMB clients consider this benefit as a potential game changer for their talent strategy. Similar to health insurance offerings, a 401(k) or other retirement savings plan can be a compelling incentive for new hires and existing employees.

While some SMB owners may think health insurance and retirement plans are too costly, they don’t have to be. There are many ways to create affordable options. For example, using a professional employer organization can help companies streamline costs while still giving them access to offer more robust benefit plan offerings.

· Bring on the bonus. Year-end incentives like cash bonuses can also go a long way to help retain top-performing employees. ADP research found 58% of small and 89% of midsized companies planned to thank existing employees at the end of 2015. And — surprise, surprise! — a cash bonus was the most popular option.

· Don’t forget the intangibles. Here’s where SMBs have a real advantage. They can often offer employees a wide range of intangible benefits like greater workplace flexibility, more job diversity and opportunities to grow and develop new skills. These types of benefits can be particularly critical for attracting and retaining millennial employees — a group that’s expected to make up as much as 75% of the global workforce by 2025. A Bentley University study found that 77% of Millennials believe a flexible schedule would make them more productive.

Creating a competitive benefits package may seem daunting, but the potential payoff is worth the investment. Benefit advisers can play a strategic role in helping clients assess their current benefits, identify new offerings to boost recruitment and retention, and then refine their benefits package accordingly. The right benefits mix can be critical in helping SMBs find and engage the workers they need to drive the success they seek.

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Employee benefits Employee productivity Small business Retirement benefits