With millions of American workers switching jobs each month, it takes perseverance, creativity, and a dash of ingenuity for business owners to attract and retain talent in today's competitive job market.
"We are transitioning from the 'Great Resignation' to the 'Great Reshuffle' where people are coming back to work but will switch jobs quickly because they have so many options," said Jenifer Allbright, G&A Partners' Director of G&A Beneficial. "The challenge for business owners is offering competitive benefits packages to help retain and recruit employees in a competitive job market while also reducing operating costs."
A comprehensive benefits package is one of the top two considerations that job seekers review when evaluating a job offer–second only to salary. However, small- to mid-sized business owners often struggle to afford and offer benefits in line with larger competitors.
The good news? There are affordable—and innovative—solutions you can adopt to help level your company's recruitment playing field, including:
#1 – Telehealth Services
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant increase in the adoption of telehealth services (or virtual healthcare) provided by a professional at a remote location via computer, tablet, or smartphone, including video chat and remote monitoring. Because the public has become more comfortable with virtual healthcare, telehealth services now appeal to employees searching for more efficient and convenient ways to access physical and mental healthcare.
The Benefit to Employers
Telehealth appeals to employers because of its health and wellness benefits and cost savings opportunities. According to the Harvard Business Review* employers who offer telehealth services through employee health insurance plans realize long-term savings in the following ways:
- Patients make fewer unnecessary trips to hospital emergency rooms, which often incur medical bills that are several times the cost of a telehealth visit.
- Worker productivity increases because virtual doctor visits are less time-consuming and allow for more-frequent medication adjustments, resulting in faster and better disease control and fewer complications.
- Employees have improved access to specialists and affordable, high-quality physical and mental healthcare. It’s estimated that if 30-40% of in-person specialist appointments were replaced with telehealth consults, patients would miss fewer workdays and receive faster and more effective care.
*Source: Harvard Business Review: “The Telehealth Era Is Just Beginning: More gains in quality, affordability, and accessibility are on the way”
#2 – Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Healthcare Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs)
Health plans offer peace of mind for employees and their families, and health savings plans provide your company and employees a way to manage rising medical costs. Because it can be expensive to fund healthcare coverage, business owners can manage expenses by offering a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) in combination with a Health Savings Account (HSA). Many organizations also provide employees access to healthcare flexible spending accounts (FSAs).
The Benefit to Employers
Companies that offer employees access to HSAs and FSAs enjoy these benefits: *
- Pre-tax employee contributions help lower payroll taxes.
- Company contributions are tax-deductible.
- The accounts help employees save for necessary medical expenses, resulting in healthier employees with fewer missed days due to illness and injury.
- HSAs offered with HDHPs incentivize employees to choose these plans, resulting in significant savings in company-paid premiums.
#3 – Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Employees are searching for signs that their employers care about their overall health and well-being. An employee assistance program (EAP) provides employees with confidential access to outside counselors, resources, and referrals—helping them address personal and work-related issues affecting their job performance, mental health, or well-being. And implementing an employee assistance program (EAP) demonstrates your company's commitment to providing workers with additional support resources, particularly when mental health awareness is rising.
"Think about your benefits plan as an extension of your company's overall strategic plan and mission and consider what your plan says about your company to potential recruits," says Brett Brown, Director of Benefits Administration for G&A Partners.
"Yes, candidates care about salaries and bonuses, but they also want to work for an organization that shows compassion and caring for employees. An EAP demonstrates that you will be there for them during life's challenging times."
— Brett Brown, Director of Benefits Administration for G&A Partners
The Benefit to Employers
Employers typically include EAPs in benefits packages at no cost to employees, and services are also available to employees' immediate family members and others living in their home. The average price for employers to administer the program in-house or through an external vendor is $35-$50 per employee per year. Payment is typically based on a per-user, per-call, or per-employee basis.
LifeWorks and the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA)'s Workplace Outcome Suite© Annual Report 2021 estimates that an EAP's return on investment (ROI) is about $5 for every $1 spent on an EAP due to reductions in absenteeism and increases in employee engagement and productivity levels.
#4 – Long-Term/Short-Term Disability Insurance and Life Insurance
Many employees place a high value on benefits that provide guaranteed financial relief—or insurance—when they encounter unforeseen challenges that could force economic hardship on themselves or their families.
Hartford's 2022 Future of Benefits Report found that more than 60% of workers with access to short- and long-term disability insurance take advantage of those benefits. More than 80% access life insurance coverage offered through their employers. And those numbers are rising year over year.
"Income or job loss due to a short- or long-term disability can be financially devastating to an employee, and providing a benefit to alleviate this potential can be a valuable resource that is relatively low cost to the employer," states the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)'s "Managing Disability Benefits."
The Benefit to Employers
For employers in states that do not require participation in a disability income plan, voluntary short- or long-term disability insurance benefits provide your employees and their families financial protection if a sudden injury or accident prevents them from working and earning an income. According to SHRM's "Managing Disability Benefits," the cost of providing short- and long-term disability insurance is approximately 1% of total compensation costs.
Life insurance provides financial assistance to employees and their families (beneficiaries) in the event of their death. Adding life insurance as a group coverage is relatively inexpensive for both companies and their employees. In addition, the US tax code excludes the first $50,000 of group-term life insurance coverage provided under a policy carried directly or indirectly by an employer. In other words, there are no tax consequences if the total amount of the policy does not exceed $50,000.
#5 – Tuition Reimbursement and Student Loan Repayment Programs
A tuition assistance (or tuition reimbursement) program is a benefit that provides financial assistance for an employee’s tuition for a study program, college degree, or other educational programs. Typically, employees must pay the full tuition price before they’re reimbursed or take specific courses to be able to qualify for the program.
According to Forbes’ “4 Out-Of-The-Box Employee Benefits to Attract Workers In 2022” by Ashley Stahl, approximately 43.2 million Americans have student loan debt averaging $39,351 each. More than 60% of those who qualified for general student loan debt relief under the CARES Act of 2020 were not prepared to resume making payments when the program ended in May 2022.
For this reason and others, many workers are willing to compete for jobs that offer some form of tuition assistance and student loan repayment benefits.
The Benefit to Employers
Student loan relief programs provide employees with student loan forgiveness. In other words, an employer pays all – or a portion of – an employee’s student loan debt as an employee benefit. This benefit covers educational expenses incurred before the employee works for the company as well as current educational costs.
In addition to tax relief*, offering tuition reimbursement and student loan relief benefits can help your company:
- Upskill employees and strengthen your company’s professional development program.
- Reduce recruiting costs by improving employee retention rates.
- Attract qualified candidates in a competitive labor market.
*Source: According to The National Law Review’s “Stimulus Bill Extends the Availability of Student Loan Forgiveness (US),” since 1978, the Internal Revenue Code’s Section 127 has allowed employers to make tax-free payments of up to $5,250 per year to eligible employees for qualified educational expenses. Then, Section 2206 of the CARES Act amended Code Section 127 to allow an employer to also pay for all or part of an employee’s “qualified education loan” as a tax-free benefit, meaning employers don’t owe payroll taxes and employees don’t pay taxes on these payments. The 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act extended the CARES Act provision until December 31, 2025.
How G&A Can Help
Insurance and benefits plans can be cost prohibitive for companies that run smaller operations and/or do not have a large workforce. G&A Partners offers small- and mid-sized companies access to top-quality benefits options by leveraging the buying power of thousands of client companies when negotiating with providers. We also keep your employer insurance premium costs in check so that your company has protection without placing undue stress on your budget. To learn more, schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable business advisors