Navigating Benefits

Keep the Cost of Employee Benefits Low and Expand Your Benefits Package

Posted by February 13, 2017

If you’re a small business owner, the cost of employee benefits may already be at the top of your budget. Because of that, you may have kept your benefits plan the same throughout the years.

If you have, you’re not alone. According to the 2015 Employee Benefits report by the Society for Human Resource Management, “within the last 12 months, the majority of organizations have offered the same amount (58 percent) of employer-sponsored benefits or have increased (35 percent) the number of benefits offered.”

So, what happens when you have a hard-working, dedicated staff and you want to reward them by expanding the benefits you offer? Simple: It’s time to get creative.

Poll Your Employees

Before you start brainstorming creative, cost-free ways to offer additional benefits, it’s important to find out what your employees actually want. You don’t want to waste time negotiating with wellness vendors to set up an employer-sponsored yoga class only to discover that your employees would rather do something more physical and high-energy, such as Zumba.

Offer Additional Vacation Time

While the current cost of employee benefits may be at the very top of your budget, you might be able to find some wiggle room in different financial budgets to absorb slight additional costs.

One perk your employees would love more of is personal time, according to a recent survey. When benefits are up for renewal, consider enhancing your benefits package by offering your employees more paid time away from work. There are a number of creative ways you can do this that won’t impact the overall productivity of your company. For example, give each employee an additional day off in their birth month. Or replace two minor company holidays with four use-them-or-lose-them holidays, which employees can use on days of their choosing.

Offer a Freebie in the Workplace

It doesn’t matter what type of small business you run; there are many ways you can expand your benefits by offering work-related perks for your employees and their families. For example, an auto body shop owner looking to boost his benefits package can offer one free oil change each quarter to his employees. A beauty salon might provide a free massage for each hair stylist and a free hair coloring for the masseuse on a regular basis.

Barter With Other Companies

You can enhance your employee benefit package without paying a dime if you work with other businesses. Bartering is an excellent way to add benefits you’d normally have to pay for.

For example, since you’ve already polled your employees, you know they’re interested in self-defense classes and weight-management programs. If you own a graphic design company, contact a local gym to see if a trainer would be able to lead a five-week self-defense class in exchange for help in updating their brand materials. A local nutritionist may be willing to put together individualized weight-loss plans for a landscaping business’s interested employees in exchange for work improving the curb appeal of her office building.

Are Any Benefits Being Underutilized?

First, reevaluate your current benefits. Ask your insurance companies for information on benefit utilization so you know what your staff are currently using, as well as what they’re not. Make room in your budget by canceling any unused benefits, and allocate the costs saved to something new.

Expanding your benefits package doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Remember, the best benefits are the ones your employees actually use. Before you make any changes to your benefits plan, take some time to find out what your employees really want. Then get creative. By working with other local businesses, offering work-related perks and taking a flexible approach to time off, you may be surprised at the diverse benefits you’ll be able to offer, all without breaking the bank.

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