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How Have Your Employee Benefits Changed Since the Start of COVID?

How Have Your Employee Benefits Changed Since the Start of COVID?

Before Coronavirus swept the world with high unemployment rates, a strain on healthcare resources, and economic strife, employers were thinking creatively about how to not only retain their existing employees but also attract the best employees with benefits. While some states have been more affected by the health concerns surrounding COVID-19, almost all have felt the effects of the economic downturn. How have your employee benefits changed since the start of COVID? Once you identify the changes, how can you begin to prepare your insurance plan for post-pandemic employee benefits to attract and retain the best employees?

Despite the large unemployment numbers we’ve seen over the last few months, employers should still consider offering employee benefits that align with their employees’ needs. 

Employers had to act fast as stay-at-home orders went into place rather quickly. Therefore, they had to establish work-from-home policies, provide external education opportunities, provide new leave requirements, and anticipate new policies for return to work phases. All of this combined with the fear of potentially contracting COVID-19 can be overwhelming. 

However your employee benefits have changed since the start of COVID, here are a few ways you can look to the future for your employee’s benefits:

  • Get proactive: As an employer, understand the implications of layoffs, furloughs, and other workplace changes. You also need to understand benefits utilization, headcounts, and changes to employment policies. 
  • Rework your employment policies: What does the return to the physical workspace look like? How can you ensure your employees stay safe when they come back? What happens when an employee tests positive for COVID-19? Think creatively about how to run your business effectively outside of your physical space. 
  • Consider your compliance: Have you experienced changes to your workforce? If you are a large employer (with 50 or more full-time employees), and you do not offer benefits to 95% of full-time or full-time equivalent employees you may be opening yourself up to liability. 
  • Include Telemedicine options: Telemedicine use has seen a drastic increase over the last few months. Be sure telemedicine is offered in your employee’s benefit programs. 

As we all continue to understand what the effects of Coronavirus will be, as an employer it’s best to try to get out in front of it. Ensure both your business and your employees stay safe. Contact us to begin crafting your benefit plans today!

Your Guide to Post Pandemic Employee Benefits

How to attract the best employees: Voluntary benefits.

Attract the best employees with voluntary benefits

Looking for ways to attract the best employees in a market where thousands of employees have been laid off? Offering voluntary benefits adds a level of insurance coverage that many workers have not previously had access to. Benefits beyond the traditional 401(k) and health insurance are vital to attracting the right talent for your business. 

What exactly are voluntary benefits?

Voluntary benefit plans are offered through the employer, but are paid, either partially or solely, by the employees. These benefits are typically paid through payroll deductions. Some of these plans offer group rates that employees cannot typically get on their own.

Why do employees look for employers who offer voluntary benefits?

  • It gives employees the choice: Allowing employees to choose the voluntary benefits they need gives your employees higher satisfaction and engagement with your business.
  • It meets the needs of various types of employees: Voluntary benefits cater to various generational, cultural, and economic differences among employees. It can be a challenge to meet the needs of a diverse workforce with a benefits plan that has only one option.
  • It ensures employees are financially stable: Voluntary benefit plans can protect employees financial wellbeing, and give them a sense of security in case something goes wrong. This makes them better, more engaged employees.

Not only do voluntary benefits help your existing employees, but also your future employees. When you offer competitive voluntary benefit packages to your workforce, great talent will be more likely to join your team. 

At SBMA, our benefit plan offers voluntary benefits that most employees will need. Your employees are the backbone of your business, so treat them right! Our plans can be modified to include dental, vision, life, hospital indemnity, accident, and critical illness coverage. Contact us today to see how voluntary benefits packages can improve your company’s ability to attract and retain the best employees.

how can voluntary benefits help you attract and retain employees

Employee Retention is More than Just Health Care

Keeping employees engaged and excited about work can be a difficult task for some employers. There are a few things you can do as a leader within your organization to foster employee happiness. One of the main ways is to offer voluntary benefits. Employees are looking for insurance when they are looking for a company that will serve them, but they also require additional benefits, and other creative approaches to benefits. In the article below, you will see the best ways to keep employees engaged and excited about work, and how important it is to offer more than just health insurance. At SBMA, we have insurance options that include vision, dental, and other voluntary benefits. Check out our plan options here!

The Best Ways to Keep Employees Engaged and Excited About Work

Attract ENGAGE Retain. 

An engaged workforce is a productive workforce. 

But you can’t force someone to be engaged. 

Once you’ve got a candidate through the hiring, onboarding and training process, you really want to retain them.  But what about two years in, five years in.  What do you do as a company to re-engage and thereby retain your staff?

People are engaged when they feel they make a difference.  People are engaged when they feel appreciated.  People are engaged when they feel a sense of purpose.  People are engaged when they feel aligned with the company’s values.

So, here are 6 ways to align yourself as a company for the best possible chance of engaging, inspiring, and thereby retaining your workers. 

  1. Benefits aren’t just a 401K: While health insurance is the #1 benefit employees look for, there are many other ways to keep employees feeling valued that are outside the traditional, raise, increase in benefits routes. Flexibility around work-life balance rates more highly among millennials than even health insurance in a study conducted in 2017 by Forbes magazine.  Bringing yoga into the workplace is another way to engage your teams in physical and emotional self-care right there on the job.  Don’t think of it as losing an hour of productivity, you’re not!  You’re donating an unproductive hour to the cause of engagement. Stress is the #1 reason people leave jobs.  So OHHHMMMMMM.
  2. Share your passion: If you’re passionate about running, donate 5% of your profits to a charity that uses running programs to get homeless people back on their feet.  If your passion is the environment, commit to a 100% plastic waste-free catering service… Whatever drives you will inspire others.  Sharing your passion with the team makes everyone clear that the CEO and owner cares deeply just like them.
  3. Get goofy: Not the dog that owns a dog… Get silly, be willing to be wrong.  Allow the company to see your human side. If that means outtakes and blooper reels go out on social media, do that.  If it means sharing that your dog died and you’re feeling really low… that’s vulnerability and as goofy as it may sound.  There’s tremendous strength in vulnerability (Brene Brown)
  4. Raise the bar: Raise up the mid-level managers in your company by bringing in training for them.  There are grants companies can apply for that pay for training effectively making that training free on the front end and so very profitable when your managers become leaders.
  5. Bang a gong: Employee of the month? Employee Spotlight, an actual gong for sales that close? There are so many ways to praise publicly (and reprimand in private).  These principles set out years ago by the likes of Ken Blanchard hold true to this day.  People want to be recognized for what they do well.  So give ‘em a hand.
  6. Ensure role alignment: Identify your company culture.  Hone in on it like a laser and protect it like it’s a crystal figurine your granny asked you to hold.  When you’re certain about your culture you can hire to align with it.  When you hire people who are aligned with the culture and get them in the right role, you’ll retain those people throughout their job lifecycle.

Intentional culture takes time and effort to build and only a small amount of neglect to destroy.  On that happy note, we’ll say, Happy retaining!

Encouraging and engaging employees can make a huge impact on your company’s culture. If you feel your company could use some adjustments to your current company culture, Culture Works can help!

Vision and Dental Add Value for Employees

How Can Vision and Dental Add Value for Your Employees?

Voluntary benefit plans are an important part of employee insurance opportunities. Among these voluntary benefits, vision and dental insurance are an important part of employees voluntary benefit plans. How can vision and dental plans add value to your employees’ wellbeing? Here are a few ways:

Vision:

  • Vision exams identify future problems: They can detect things like eyestrain, diabetes, and even high blood pressure. They can also identify common eye issues and diseases.
  • Cost savings: According to the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research eye disease, vision loss, and eye disorders cost the U.S Economy $68 billion per year.
  • Increase productivity: The vision council reported that eye care delivers $7,800 in more productivity per employee.

Dental:

  • Dentists can identify disease: Dentists have the ability to identify over 120 diseases. This can help your employee long-term health with potential early detection
  • Young employees likely don’t have dental coverage: The American Dental Association states that millennials have untreated tooth decay. The main reasons for this issue are cost convenience and confusion surrounding dental care.
  • Those with dental coverage are more likely to use it: As more people offer dental insurance the number of adults who miss work for oral health-related issues dropped 7%.

At SBMA, we provide voluntary benefits that employees love. To learn more about our voluntary benefit programs, contact us today!

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Worksite Benefits Benefit Everyone

The high cost of health care and the evolution of insurance plans with high deductibles has created a market for voluntary benefits. 

Employees can choose from a number of insurance products to complement their coverage and to help achieve a greater degree of stability. Worksite Benefits (voluntary coverage) plans may be 100% paid for by employees or cost-shared with the employer. Here’s why worksite benefits benefit everyone.

Creating a more comprehensive and competitive benefits package is good for the employer as they attract better talent, good for the employee as they get improved coverage and good for the broker who is providing cost-effective solutions. In 2017 nearly half of large employers offered at least one of the three major voluntary benefits: accident, critical illness, and hospital indemnity.

Enrollment in voluntary benefits can be streamlined by offering these benefits at the time of enrollment in a MEC or other benefits plan, by ensuring ease of use in a portal or enrollment documents and by informing employees of the benefits of Worksite Benefits. .

Voluntary benefits generate commissions that can be used to fund overall benefits administration costs and project work done by TPAs that would otherwise be paid by the employer. 

SUPPORT FOR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS

On the employer side, there has been a national push for physical and financial wellness initiatives. Employers are recognizing the increased stress their employees deal with on a day-to-day basis and are offering solutions. Stress costs American businesses more than $300 billion a year. 

PERSONAL PREFERENCE DRIVES DEMAND

Employees want to have more control when it comes to deciding which options are useful for them.

When employers offer a wide range of benefits that address physical and mental health and wellness issues, employees can adapt the package to fit their lifestyle needs. 

Employees want a benefits package that feels personalized to them, so that they feel like they An Aflac survey found that employees who were offered voluntary benefits were 19 percent more likely to be satisfied with their job – and 14 percent less likely to be job searching.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TECHNOLOGY

The wide array of technology providers offering more streamlined technology also makes voluntary benefits easier to implement for employers and brokers. Online enrollment, automated processing of administrative tasks and the ability for employees to “self-serve” all make the voluntary benefits enrollment process more attractive to employees and employers.

Voluntary benefits are only going to increase in popularity for employers and brokers of all sizes as they become more essential in the lives of employees. Isn’t it time to take a look at your benefits offerings and make sure they are competitive? Call SBMA today.

How Employee Benefits Improve Retention

The Affordable Care Act, enacted in 2010, ensured that everyone was able to receive health insurance regardless of if they have pre-existing health conditions or for any other discriminatory reasons. This Act gave employees the ability to leave their employers if the only reason they were staying was insurance reasons. Employees who were stuck in their jobs to receive benefits now had the opportunity to look for opportunities elsewhere.

employee benefits improve retention

When employees leave a company, that company incurs many costs to their business, in addition to the added inconvenience. A study done in 2016 by the Society for Human Resource Management discovered that the average cost for companies to find replacement employees is $4,129, including turnover costs, and the average 42 days of lost productivity to find a new employee.

 If that employee holds a job that requires higher skills, that number increases, according to the Center for American Progress. The economic cost for finding a replacement goes from 5.8% of a year’s compensation to up to 213% for a highly skilled employee.

So how does a company prevent employees from leaving their company?

In short, the answer is simple: offer better benefits. While the ACA ensured benefits for all, you can differentiate your company by providing great options for their benefits. 

Around 75% of employees said that being able to customize their benefits package based on their specific needs is an important consideration they take when accepting a new job. Not only will it attract new people to your company, but 88% of employees say that the ability to customize their benefits package leads to higher overall job satisfaction. 

With these statistics in mind, if you offer voluntary benefits like vision, dental, accident, critical illness, hospital indemnity, and life insurance options for your employees, you will be able to retain and attract great employees.

At SBMA, we want to help you attract and retain those employees. Contact us to get started on your employee benefits packages. 

The Difference Between Group and Voluntary Benefits

There are many options to consider when choosing what coverage you would like to include in your group benefits plan. When considering the purchase of voluntary benefits versus buying group benefits options, you need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both. Here are a few significant differences that will allow you to make a more informed decision.

  • Keeping your coverage: With voluntary benefits, you own the policy, meaning it can move transferred and taken with you whether or not you choose to leave your employer. There is no limitation on age or time of the policy. With group benefits, your policy owner is the employer, and they are responsible for renewing the policy. You could lose coverage if the plan gets canceled or if you choose to leave your employer. With some group policies, there are age limitations, which could include the possibility of losing your benefits at a certain age. The ability to move the plan is limited, and there is a possibility to keep coverage at a reduced benefit, or with a higher premium that may only last 12-36 months.
  • Premiums/Pricing: The premium for voluntary benefits takes into account your age at the time of purchase, and it does not increase over time. There is no annual renewal process, so you do not have to sign up for these benefits every year. With group benefits, the premiums are step-rated. There are predetermined points in the policy that inform you of when the premiums increase. The rate you receive when you purchase your coverage could only last 2-3 years, and rates are subject to change.
  • Renewability: Voluntary benefit policies are guaranteed to be renewable, and the carrier can not terminate. As stated above, there is no annual renewal process. With group benefit policies, the employer, who owns the benefits, is required to renew the group benefits policy. The employer also can cancel the policy at any time with a 60-day notice to employees.
  • Enrollment: Enrolling in voluntary benefits typically involve a one-on-one session with the enroller. You are the primary contact person, and anything to do with the policy goes directly to you. With group benefits information, there are group sessions to inform you about enrollment, but typically you enroll on your own. The employer is the point of contact between the policyholders and you, so those policyholders are usually less engaged with fewer customization options.

These are some considerations to take when looking for policy options. You may not be able to decide whether or not your employer offers group or voluntary benefits; this should help you navigate your policy. Inform yourself about what your policy provides, and you will be better suited to get the coverage necessary for you. Contact us for more information.

What is the Employee Tax Credit?

The Employee Retention Tax Credit was rolled out as part of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. It was enacted to encourage employers to retain employees throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. As our country begins to understand the full scope of COVID-19, this credit could allow employers to keep employees on their payroll and keep their doors open.

What is the Employee Retention Tax Credit?

The tax credit is a refundable tax credit that is meant to incentivize employers to keep employees on their payroll. For all businesses working to keep their staff on the payroll, 50% of qualified wages must be paid to the employees from March 12, 2020, to January 1, 2021. Including credit for qualified health plan expenses. 

An employer can claim up to $10,000 in wages paid if the employer’s business is entirely or partially suspended because of coronavirus and if their gross receipts also decrease by more than 50%.

What makes someone eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit?

The ERTC is available all employers, including tax-exempt organizations. The only organizations that are not eligible for the ERTC are state and local governments and their instrumentalities and any small business that has taken a Small Business Loan. Those who are self-employed are also not eligible for the ERTC.

An employer must be a business that has been fully or partially suspended by the coronavirus government orders, to qualify for the tax credit. If they do not meet that requirement, they may also be eligible if the employer has gross receipts below 50% of the same quarter in 2019. If the employer’s gross receipts go beyond 80%, they are no longer eligible for the tax credit after the quarter ends.

Employers with fewer than 100 employees may receive a tax credit for all employees. Those with more than 100 employees can receive credit for the employees who are being paid but are not working due to coronavirus cutbacks.

How can I claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit?

The ERTC cannot be combined with any other tax credit. If you are counting wages toward the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act tax credit, you cannot count those same wages toward the ERTC.

To begin your ERTC claim, employers should report their total qualified wages and other credits quarterly. Form 941 allows businesses to report their income, along with their Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from employee’s paychecks. 

If an employer reduces the amount of payroll taxes they withhold from employee’s wages, they can be immediately reimbursed. 

As businesses continue to adjust their business plans in the face of coronavirus, there are many ways they can find relief through various programs. The ERTC is a good option for employers who are trying to keep their employees on their payroll. Visit our COVID-19 resource page for more information on programs that can benefit your business.

Voluntary Benefits Attract the Best Employees

Voluntary Benefits Aid in Attracting the Best Employees

Including options for voluntary benefits and supplemental benefits is quickly becoming the norm for most employers who offer health insurance to their employees. As an employer, attracting the best talent and keeping them is of the utmost importance to maintaining a successful business. Over the last few years, there has been an increase in demand for voluntary benefits. While major medical coverage is the foundation of a good employee benefits program, it’s important to ask the question: how can I use these voluntary benefits to make my company more attractive to new prospects?

Most employers view voluntary benefits as a way to provide a choice to their employees, to offer options for their diverse workforce, and to ensure that their employees are happier and healthier. Employees need solutions that they can cater to their specific lifestyle. 

Some voluntary benefit options include hospital confinement, accident, critical illness, disability, cancer, legal services, identity theft protection, and commuter benefits. Some employees will enroll in every type of coverage available. 

This shift in regard to voluntary benefits could be attributed to employers wanting to offer holistic coverage that supports their benefits strategy. Employers can align their benefits with their overall company offerings and values. 

With multiple generations involved in their workforce today, an employer must offer benefits that would cater to each of their needs. Those who are older might consider traditional benefits packages to be sufficient, but younger generations might prefer voluntary options. 

Enrollment portals allow employers to offer both core benefits and voluntary benefits in one place. This gives employees the flexibility of changing their plans whenever they need to and educate employees on how to choose the benefits that align with their needs. 

Not only do these benefits allow your company to attract and retain talent that will benefit your company in the long run. For more information on how you can offer the best, affordable benefits to your employees, contact us.

What Benefits Improve Employee Retention?

Offering employees the benefits they want and need is one of the best ways to retain talent and improve your employees’ satisfaction. There is a large portion of employees who view benefits as an essential factor in their satisfaction with their job and company. So, what employee benefits can you implement that will differentiate you from your competitors? Here are a few options:

Retirement benefits: 401(k) and defined-benefit plans are becoming more important in retaining talent. The incoming workforce of younger employees views retirement benefits as an important factor in deciding whether or not to take their job. Glassdoor found that as companies increase their retirement benefit programs by 1 star, the employees experience a .08 star increase in satisfaction.

Wage increases: Increases in wages can increase employee satisfaction. Some companies choose to forego traditional group benefits and raise employee wages instead. While this seems like an excellent solution to improving employee satisfaction, if you decide to forego any benefits program, it might cause employees to look elsewhere. Employers expect the additional wages to be spent on benefits, but employees may not spend that money to account for a benefits program. Employees typically do not see wage increases as a replacement for benefits. 

Transportation benefits: Commuting can be a hassle for many employees across the U.S. Employees may dislike it so much that they decide to look elsewhere for a job closer to their home. Transportation benefits may mitigate this hassle and help employees justify a commute. Companies that offer a supplement for transportation cost are viewed as better places to work. Not many employees provide these benefits so that it could differentiate you from the rest.

Bring your device programs: These programs employees can use their own devices for work-related purposes. Companies can also offer to reimburse employees for any costs that incur with their devices. While this is seen as a benefit to its employees, it also can reduce the costs of buying devices for your workforce. The satisfaction increases when companies offer to reimburse employees for their expenses, like their phone bill.

Traditional Group Health Insurance: This is the most valued benefit program for employees. Employees increasingly desire healthcare benefits that are customized to their needs. Offering different options depending on the lifestyle each employee lives can increase employee satisfaction significantly. 

Education Benefits: Educational assistance from companies gives employees a greater feeling of importance. More and more employees desire additional education benefits. These benefits could be in the form of tuition reimbursement or paid job training. With these types of benefits, employers must ensure that they are offering robust education options to ensure their employee’s happiness.

Employee benefits can allow employees to feel cared for and important within their company, which leads to higher company satisfaction. For more information on how to offer the best, most affordable options for your employees, contact us