Employee benefits and company culture go hand in hand. Benefits should be an ongoing part of the conversation for you and your teammates -- even if that simply means establishing how their benefits packages will ideally look in the future. For startups -- where physical compensation may not be high -- a unique, money-saving benefits package can help attract and retain young talent. But you must think about it holistically.
Does it make more sense to push employees to the private exchanges? Would childcare services, healthy meal delivery or a health savings account stretch your money further than funding a more expensive plan? What about preventive benefits in addition to reactive benefits? And would a wellness program keep your employees healthier than covered checkups? These are just a few of the questions you must ask yourself as you build your package. But no matter what route you take, it’s important to provide benefits that make sense for your greatest asset: your people.
Unfortunately, many startup leaders encounter obstacles when trying to implement benefits programs. For example, if you don’t know enough about the insurance industry, you can’t influence employees’ lives in real ways. Not having the appropriate technology -- or the means to create it -- can be another hindrance. Finally, you may have a wonderful benefits package, but if your employees aren’t using it properly, it’s just burning money.
To combat these barriers, you need to use three key tactics:
1. Re-frame how you discuss benefits.
Companies are struggling to retain talented young workers. Recent reports found that 45 percent of companies have a high turnover rate with millennials. Those that have succeeded took an entirely different approach to their employee relationships.
Start by making your relationship with employees less transactional by thinking more about benefits that enhance and protect employees’ lives and shield them from outrageous medical bills. Then, communicate those benefits to your employees. The worst thing you can do is give workers a one-pager outlining benefits -- and never mention them again. A recent study by MetLife found that when employers provide more information about benefits, employees are more loyal and more satisfied on the job.
Related: The Basics of Employee Benefits
2. Find a broker you can trust.
Knowing the details of a specific region’s employee benefits is imperative for brokers. Companies need different plans as they scale, and brokers can help them save money and think about efficient, long-term scaling. Brokers are compensated mostly on commission from insurance premiums, so find one who doesn’t immediately push for the most expensive plan. Good brokers help you explore your options rather than steer you toward a benefits strategy that isn’t in your best interest.
One benefits package doesn’t fit all, so your broker should learn as much about your company as possible -- including your teammates and their preferred benefits strategy -- to craft an offering that meets your specific needs.
3. Help your employees use the benefits you give them with technology.
The best benefits in the world are worthless if your employees don’t use them. And in the digital age, employees demand an intuitive, paperless interface to help them navigate insurance. The insurance industry is traditionally slow to adopt technology, but it’s gaining some traction. The Affordable Care Act in tandem with the emergence of mobile, consumer-focused technology has practically turned it upside down.
Finding an intuitive, tech-friendly program or platform is crucial. Around-the-clock mobile experiences help employees make smart decisions with their money, which can lead to financial wellness in the office as a whole. And your employees will appreciate the autonomy. This is the do-it-yourself generation -- nobody under 30 wants to get on the phone or talk to someone in person.
As an added bonus, your human resources team members will love when their desks aren’t loaded with mountains of paper. Taking your company paperless with a beautiful tech solution keeps everyone organized and saves time, money and sanity.
Employee benefits are entering a new age. You need to put careful thought into the benefits you offer to ensure the future health of your business and the individuals who fuel it.