Thought Leadership

The Fortune 500 Effect: How small businesses can make benefits part of their strategy

You may not be able to offer the lavish lunches, foosball tables, and extraneous stipends for vacations, furniture, and exercise like Fortune 500 companies do. Yet just because you don’t have a massive corporation doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to offer high-quality benefits. Small businesses have more options out there than the cookie cutter plans they’re typically presented with.

There are some benefits that all companies – regardless of size and revenue stream – must have, like workers’ compensation insurance, social security and medicare, and unemployment insurance. If you have more than 50 qualified employees, you also need to provide health insurance and family and medical leave. Benefits that are standard to offer, but not given, are paid time off, 401(k) contributions, life insurance, and ancillary benefits like vision and dental insurance. 

Given the immense competition that employers are facing for talent, businesses should aim to offer attractive benefits that set them apart from other companies. Here are three things small businesses can emulate from Fortune 500 companies in making benefits a key part of their business strategy. 

1. Engage your employees in the process  

The companies that are successful at offering top benefits have already engaged their employees in the process. A lot of the time, bigger companies will partner with consultants to survey employees and test what will work best for the team – and what will make them work more efficiently. As one Facebook employee said, “With Facebook you literally do not have to worry about anything - every benefit possible is available to you.”

Small businesses can do this too on a smaller scale. Speaking to employees about the benefits they want and need can help guide the decision process, so employers can actually offer the types of benefits and perks that employees want and will make them better able to do their jobs. 

2. Focus on high impact benefits 

Having benefits only matters if people use them, and many large companies have found out that utilizing too many vendors to deliver benefits can lead to low utilization. Instead, focus on benefits that create real impact for employees. Mental health support is a great example. As we've seen, mental health can impact the workplace in a big way. Depression can cost employers $12,000 per employee per year in absenteeism. Today, one in five adults have a mental illness. 

Smaller employers should ensure their people can access behavioral health resources - such as counselors and psychologists. Sometimes this is included in the health insurance benefit. 

In addition, employers can improve mental health by reducing financial stress – which costs $4.7 billion per week in productivity loss. A study showed that employees that had a benefits package with financial wellness were 51% happier with their offering, compared to 36% that didn’t offer this benefit.

3. Go beyond cookie cutter health plans 

Large companies offer a better overall healthcare experience to employees because they provide quality care and benefits, like free preventative and diagnostic care, advanced primary care, centers of excellence, and high-touch service. 

Small businesses can do the same, going beyond what is typically offered in fully insured high deductible health plans (not convinced? See for yourself why HSAs are not all they’re cracked up to be). 

While small businesses might not be able to offer their employees beer on tap or other luxuries, taking the above to heart when planning your benefits strategy can go a long way in making employees feel cared for and providing better wide ranging coverage this enrollment season.

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