New York, N.Y., October 15, 2018 – The physical, health, and financial security of 60 million Americans is linked to small businesses or firms with less than 50 full-time, permanent employees. More than four in ten small business workers say they depend on their workplace benefits for financial security and agree their benefits positively impact their overall health, according to the 5th Annual Workplace Benefits Study, “Small Business, Big Benefits," by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian). With unemployment at its lowest levels since 2008, competition for talent is fierce – 61 percent of small businesses aim to offer a better benefits package than competitors with this increasing even more among start-ups (70%) and high-tech firms (81%).
“The ability for small businesses to stand out in today’s marketplace is essential for growth and this study confirms that small businesses are using flexible work arrangements, wellness initiatives and benefits technology as important recruitment and retention tools,” said Marc Costantini, executive vice president, Commercial and Government Markets, at Guardian. “Creating a benefits experience that employees value allows small business owners to demonstrate they care about the well-being of their employees - which leads to stronger employee loyalty.”
Creating a Culture of Well-Being
Over the past five years, more small businesses have established flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and wellness programs to help employees improve their work-life balance. For small businesses already applying these practices in the workplace, the study confirms it makes a difference - 55 percent of workers who feel their employer cares about their well-being want to stay at their company for 10 years or more compared to 33 percent who don’t believe their company cares. Women and millennial small business owners placed even more importance on benefits that support workforce health, financial, and emotional well-being. For example, 66 percent of millennial small business owners agree their company creates a culture of well-being versus 51 percent of baby boomer owners.
Small business owners are in a unique position to identify the needs of their workers on a more personal level. The study shows small firms know that workers rely on their workplace benefits for financial security, and that often money is a top source of stress for their employees. For a growing proportion of workers in high deductible health plans (HDHP), out-of-pocket medical costs are near the top of that list. To help workers pay for expenses not covered by their HDHP, more employers are offering supplemental health coverage, up 20 percent since 2015. Additionally, since many employees feel their benefits are important to their household’s financial security, small businesses are responding with two of the top five benefits strategies including helping workers make better benefits decisions (53 percent) and increase employee financial education (44 percent) over the next five years.
Benefits Technology Makes it Possible
Cloud-based software has made human resources and benefits technology more accessible and mainstream to small businesses. In fact, the Guardian study found more than 50 percent of small businesses have digitalized a majority of their benefits process. Technology not only enables small businesses to enhance the employee experience but to help improve efficiency and compliance. Outsourcing benefits administration has also become an important benefits strategy for small firms. Roughly 30 percent of small business owners have increased their level of administration outsourcing in the last three years, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Twenty-four percent of small firms believe outsourcing will be a top benefits strategy in the next five years.
Adds David Poirier, national director of Small Group Sales at Guardian: “More and more people are looking to work for a company they feel cares about their well-being. As small businesses rethink their employee benefits strategy, we recommend evaluating what motivates their employees and work closely with a trusted advisor who is knowledgeable in key areas like benefits technology, voluntary benefits and compliance.”
For more information about Guardian’s workplace benefits or to view a copy of the study, please visit: guardianlife.com.
The Fifth Annual Workplace Benefits Study was fielded in the Spring 2017 and consisted of two online surveys: one among 2,000 benefits decision-makers (employers) and another among 1,700 working Americans (employees), allowing us to explore benefits issues from both perspectives. The study was conducted for Guardian for Zeldis Research, an independent market research firm located in Ewing, NJ.
Every day, Guardian provides 26 million Americans the security they deserve through our insurance and wealth management products and services. Since our founding in 1860, our long-term view has helped our customers prepare for whatever life brings whether starting a family, planning for the future or taking care of employees. Today, we’re a Fortune 250 mutual company and a leading provider of life, disability and other benefits for individuals, at the workplace and through government sponsored programs. The Guardian community of ~9000 employees and our network of over 2750 financial representatives is committed to serving with expertise when, where and how our clients need us. Our commitments rest on a strong financial foundation, which at year-end 2017 included $8.0 billion in capital and $1.6 billion in operating income. For more information, please visit guardianlife.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America