Stop, Look and Listen: What Your Employees Really Want in Their Benefits Package

From ChamberChoice and Smart Business Pittsburgh

In today’s job market, employers are finding it increasingly difficult to offer their employees what is of top importance to them — money. This results in the need for employers to get creative when it comes to recruiting and retaining top-notch talent. Where salaries fall short, many employers bolster their benefits packages in conjunction with other incentive-based offerings, says Rob Higginbotham, finance and HR director at JRG Advisors.

Here’s the million-dollar question: What matters most to employees?

Smart Business spoke with Higginbotham about the key areas where employers should pay attention in their employee benefits.

How much does money matter?

Probably without question, the most important factor for any employee is salary. After all, we all want to be paid what we are worth, right? The reality is we are all worth more than simply what a dollar amount reflects, but salary negotiations are a big component to attracting and retaining quality employees.

As an employer, you must pay your best and brightest, and give no reason for these employees to polish up their resumes. Pay attention to the compensation standard in your industry and region. Know what your competitors are paying. And by all means, do not hesitate to proactively talk about compensation with transparency and clarity.

What needs to be included in a comprehensive employee benefits package?

Providing access to a good benefits package that meets the needs of your employees is a worthwhile investment that pays dividends. Although health insurance ranks as the primary concern for employees, providing added benefits to your program goes a long way to strengthening the overall compensation package. Consider including short- and long-term disability insurance, life insurance, dental, vision and voluntary benefits like critical illness, cancer riders, and tuition savings and reimbursement plans. Sponsoring a retirement savings plan is a benefit that can separate your company from the competition, too.

A well-rounded benefits program fosters healthy and productive employees. It bolsters employee morale and demonstrates that you care about your employees’ health, well-being and future potential.

Where does work-life balance come into play?

Your employees’ work-life balance is a crucial factor when it comes to accepting a new job or leaving a current job. Plain and simple, overworked employees develop resentment and that can lead to burn out. There are only so many hours in a day. The more time an employer demands, the less quality time an employee has to spend with his or her family or to pursue interests or hobbies that are critical to his or her well-being.

The balancing act for employers is enabling employees to have lives outside of the workplace, while ensuring that the job gets done. More companies are beginning to offer flex-time schedules, job sharing and unique paid time off plans to help employees achieve the proper work-life balance.

What’s important to understand about career development and providing purpose?

Employees need to know they have opportunities for advancement within a company because it increases the likelihood of loyalty and dedication. If an employee feels stagnant, bored, overlooked or underappreciated in their position, chances are they will actively seek a job opportunity elsewhere. Provide on-going training programs and help employees further develop their skills. Senior management can motivate employees with open dialogue, a chance to work on a new project and constructive feedback, too.

Employees want jobs that provide them with a sense of purpose. In other words, a company’s goals and its measurement of success must be defined by more than financial earnings. Many employees find a great deal of satisfaction working with a company that aligns with their own values, a company that is socially responsible and aims to have a positive impact on society.

Employers can also foster a sense of purpose by taking the time to acknowledge employees, celebrate their achievements and reward hard work. After all, we all want to grow personally and make a meaningful difference.

Penn National Declares 10 Percent Dividend This Year for Business Insurance Program

Chamber members that utilize the ChamberChoice business insurance program through Penn National Insurance will receive a 10% dividend delivered back to them for policies written and retained during the program’s sixth year (May 1, 2016 – April 30, 2017), as Penn National recently announced a 10% dividend for this year. Members enrolled in the program that remained chamber members and policyholders through the end of the program year should expect to receive their checks in July if they haven’t already. 

Since the program’s inception in 2011, over $9 million has been returned to member businesses in dividends out of over $31.5 million in paid premiums. The average annual dividend return in the six years of the program has been 7.8%. Columbia Montour Chamber members enrolled in the program have now received over $231,000 in dividends over the last six years. This year alone, Columbia Montour Chamber members received $58,041.49 in dividends in aggregate. 

“This program is not only a great benefit to our members, but has made a significant economic impact by putting dollars back into our local community and member businesses,” said Columbia Montour Chamber president Fred Gaffney.

An important aspect of this group insurance program is preventing loss and controlling claims costs. Because dividends are based on the group’s collective loss experience, a business that may have had a significant loss may still be eligible to receive a dividend.

The program is sold exclusively through local, independent agents who can offer chamber members a variety of coverages and pricing on property and casualty insurance, including business owners, commercial auto, general liability, inland marine and workers’ compensation. Dividends are paid on all of these coverages. In addition, through safety consulting, Penn National Insurance and local independent insurance agencies encourage member businesses to develop safety practices to substantially reduce or eliminate workplace injuries.

To see if this program could be a good fit for your business, contact Chamber members Associated Insurance Management at 570-275-0100 or Hutchison Insurance Agency at 570-784-5550, for a no-obligation quote. 

Grants Available to Organizations From Pennsylvania’s Volkswagen Settlement Funds

As many are aware, Volkswagen was required to donate funds to the government as a result of its diesel emissions violations in 2015. In Pennsylvania, those funds were designated to reducing emissions from diesel engines throughout the state and there are multiple funds/grants that are scheduled to open soon that may be available and of interest to some member organizations. There will be grant money for items such as electric vehicle chargers for multifamily residences, public places and employers. There are also rebates for buses to transition to alternative fuels. 

Some programs are currently closed, but will be opening soon. The PA Department of Environmental Protection is administering these programs, and has set up a website with all of the pertinent information about the various programs and grants available. Any interested organizations or individuals can also sign up to be added to an email list to stay informed about grant application openings and deadlines. 

U.S. Department of Labor Ruling Will Allow Expansion of and More Options For Small Business Health Insurance Plans

In late June, the U.S. Department of Labor released a ruling that will allow for the expansion of small business health insurance plans. This long anticipated news is very exciting and will give members additional options for health insurance. Several associations and membership-based organizations, including ChamberChoice, have been preparing for this ruling and the opportunity to create new association health plans for many months. Thus far, the response from insurance companies and other service providers is positive, and the goal is for ChamberChoice to begin offering association health plans again starting in September.

This ruling changes the USDOL’s interpretation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA) definition of “employer” to allow small businesses to band together to create health plans for their employees with less expensive premiums than previously available for individuals or single organizations in the marketplace. The rule change essentially changes the DOL’s interpretation of ERISA’s definition of “employer” to include “employer association.” This ruling will restore ChamberChoice’s ability to create and sell differentiated ChamberChoice health insurance benefits and pricing for Chamber members – including sole proprietors.

Here is an easy to read document that further explains this change and includes FAQs. 

ChamberChoice Announces New Partnership to Save Members Money on Prescriptions and More

From ChamberChoice

ChamberChoice recently partnered with National Benefit Builders (NBBI) to offer discount programs to Chamber Members, their employees and family members.

Its new discount programs are a cost-effective way to enhance any benefits program! It provides people with choices that are affordable and voluntary. The benefits are portable and can fill the gaps in coverages – with significant savings for out-of-pocket expenses.

Do you pay full price for medications? Does your insurance force you to buy generic when you prefer the brand? Save an average of 15% on brand name and 55% on generic medications at over 80% of pharmacies. This discount prescription card can be used immediately and shared with family. You may also request additional cards for family and friends. Your personal information is never collected.

Available Programs include:

  • Discount Rx
  • DentaChoice Dental & Vision
  • Health Discount Network
  • Telehealth
  • NBBI Senior
  • NBBI Wellness
  • NBBI Pet
  • NBBI Lifestyles
  • Keystroke GuardTM

For more information on the programs and pricing, review this two-page descriptions flyer.