In spite of major changes in the health care landscape, small-business owners looking to recruit and retain top employees still need to pay close attention to their benefits offerings. According to the 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report for Small Businesses, which was released this month, a majority of workers employed in small businesses are willing to consider a job with slightly lower pay but better benefits, while half of potential job changers say improving their benefits package could help their employer keep them.
"The Affordable Care Act has enabled more Americans to obtain health care benefits, but it has not reduced the overall costs or the health care concerns of the majority of employees," said Aflac Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Matthew Owenby. "Offering robust benefits, including major medical and voluntary insurance, remains an important factor for small businesses to keep employees happy while increasing growth opportunities."
With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' July 2015 unemployment rate at 5.3 percent, small businesses realize the battle for talent is getting tougher. As a positive sign of their hiring ambitions, the Aflac study found more than one-third (34 percent) of decision-makers expect to hire full-time employees, while 28 percent believe they will hire part-time employees in the next 12 months. Continuing to offer benefits to recruit and retain employees is important to meeting workers' preference for strong benefits packages.
According to the study, almost six in 10 (59 percent) of workers at small companies are at least somewhat likely to accept a job with slight lower pay but better benefits. Nearly half (49 percent) of small-business employees who at least somewhat agree they will be looking for jobs in the next year also say improving their benefit package is one thing their employers could do to keep them in their current jobs.
Small-business owners appear to be listening. While a top business objective in 2015 continues to be controlling costs, the new study found the percentage of small-business employers offering voluntary insurance to employees increased from 18 in 2014 to 22 percent in 2015. Compared to those not offered voluntary benefits at work, the Aflac study found small-business employees enrolled in voluntary benefits are more likely to be very or extremely satisfied with their jobs and their overall benefits packages and more likely to believe the benefits package offered by their employer meets their family needs well.