You know it better than anyone: One of the defining characteristics of small business owners is that you have to wear many hats. At this time of the year, you are likely working with your human resources consultant as you don your benefits bonnet.
I know that determining next year’s benefits enrollment for your employees is a big task and can quickly become overwhelming. But I have some tips to help you. I’ve worked with my team and we put together three top tips to help make open enrollment a success for small businesses.
1) Take Advantage of Tax Credits
If you are a business that employs 25 or fewer full-time equivalent workers whose average annual wages do not exceed $50,000, and if you offer those employees health insurance, your business may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.
Small Business Health Care Tax Credits can be worth up to 50 percent of a small business’ premium costs.
Note: As of August 26, 2013, IRS.gov states that fewer than 25 employees are eligible for these credits. However, Internal Revenue Code Section 45R (PDF) states that the term “eligible small employer” means an employer which has no more than 25 full-time equivalent employees for the taxable year.
2) Provide Options to Your Employees
People love to feel loved. Understanding this and applying it to benefits will help ensure your workforce feels appreciated.
What does this mean?
Benefits are not one-size-fits-all. Provide employees with two or three options to help them create an overall benefits package that is unique to their needs. To expand the options you provide without adding costs to your bottom line, look into voluntary options such as accident, cancer, life and short-term disability insurance.
Fifty nine percent of employees say they would likely purchase voluntary insurance benefits if offered by their employer.
3) Communication is Key
Effective communication is essential to help employees understand their benefit options and to improve employee engagement with the benefits you offer.
Only 26 percent of workers indicate they always understand everything that is covered by their policy, meaning communication from you should be well-received.
Communicate About Benefits Year-Round
This will remind employees about the important health and financial choices available to them. Use layman’s terms rather than high-level jargon and target your language appropriately to different work streams.
More than 2-in-5 workers agree that a well-communicated benefit program would make them less likely to leave their job.
Use Multiple Avenues to Communicate Enrollment Details
Home mailers, emails, videos, benefits booklets, worksite meetings and online tools or portals are diverse channels to ensure your employees receive the necessary information.
Employees prefer to get their employee benefits information and advice from multiple resources, including their company’s HR professional (30 percent), company intranet (17 percent), benefits booklet (17 percent) and/or benefits provider’s website (12 percent).
Make Enrollment Information Available to Spouses and Partners
Many studies indicate that spouses of workers are often the decision-makers when it comes to benefit decisions. Women make approximately 80 percent of health care decisions for their families.
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