Small Businesses Can Offer Big Benefits

Small employers (those with less than 100 employees) do not have to settle for small benefits packages, according to a recent white paper from the Colonial Life and Accident Insurance Company. The paper, Small Business: Big Benefits, explores some of the issues facing small business employers and employees regarding their workplace benefits such as the rising cost of insurance, health care reform, and employee recruitment and retention.

Although employees of small businesses share the same interests and concerns about their benefits and personal finances as employees in large companies, they are less likely to have benefits, Colonial Life says. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy,” said Rich Williams, senior vice president, growth markets, at Colonial Life. “Our research shows the concerns of their employees are not that much different than larger firms when it comes to personal finances. Employees in companies of all sizes tend to worry about having enough savings to retire, to cover an emergency or to cover being out from work if they are injured or sick. But small employers do have options when it comes to providing competitive benefits packages.”

Colonial Life found that workers in small firms are concerned about the following financial issues:

• Not having enough savings to retire as planned: 50 percent;
• Not having enough savings to cover an emergency: 39 percent;
• Not having enough savings to cover a period of being unable to work due to an illness or injury: 39 percent;
• Losing their job: 33 percent; and
• Not being able to afford medical costs not covered by their health insurance: 32 percent.

“Small employers value their workers and want to provide good benefits that address their individual needs,” said Williams. “Yet today’s economy and a changing regulatory environment make them hesitant to add new benefits. Voluntary, employee-paid benefits give small businesses a way to offer a competitive benefits package without impacting their bottom line.”

In fact, employees in small businesses show considerable interest in purchasing additional insurance benefits if they had access to them through their employers. The Colonial Life poll noted employee interest in the following types of insurance plans:

• Life insurance: 49 percent;
• Short-term disability insurance: 46 percent;
• Critical illness insurance: 40 percent;
• Accident insurance: 40 percent; and
• Cancer insurance: 21 percent.

Although small employers typically do not have dedicated human resource personnel who can educate and manage their benefits enrollments, they do have options for these services. Small businesses can work with vendors that provide complimentary personal counseling sessions as part of their enrollment services to enhance their communication efforts.

“Small employers don’t have to settle for small benefits packages,” concluded Williams. “They can enjoy many of the same advantages as their larger counterparts. Voluntary benefits can be a tremendous asset to small businesses looking for a cost-effective way to compete in the marketplace.”

The survey contains responses from more than 1,000 U.S. employees. For more information, visit

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