Importance of Employee Benefits for Small Businesses

Small business owner working in her kitchen

For small-business owners, the importance of employee benefits is a significant factor when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. The majority of workers prefer attractive types of employee benefits—like insurance, paid time off, and a retirement plan—over pay raises. Whether you’re competing for talent or keeping the high performers you already have, small-business employee benefits are essential for making your staff feel valued and supported.

To stay competitive through an economic downturn, it’s important to focus your limited resources on the types of employee benefits that matter most to your workers. Free food is a nice perk, but it’s low on the list of what actually influences an employee to join a company. Morale-building activities, like company retreats and outings, have no influence on people’s decisions to work for you. Instead, employees are most interested in benefits that provide protection and flexibility: insurance, time off, and work-from-home options. Insurance requires a significant financial investment for your small business, but of the many examples of employee benefits, it’s the most important.1

Around 80% offer some degree of employer-provided medical insurance.

Health, dental, and vision insurance

Health insurance is the leading concern and need among prospective employees when they’re evaluating a job’s benefits—and it’s the most commonly offered benefit for that reason. Dental and vision insurance are also common benefits. Around 80% of companies offer some degree of employer-provided medical insurance. Employer-provided insurance is offered by a much lower percentage of small businesses that have less than 10 employees. The reason is the cost; employees typically pay between 10% and 20% of the premiums while the employer covers the rest.2 It’s not easy to balance the types of employee benefits that could be offered to reward and retain top talent while ensuring that your business operates sustainably. If medical insurance is too great an expense for your company, you can look for other ways to reward your employees or can build the cost of medical insurance into your future business goals.

If medical insurance is too great an expense for your company, you can look for other ways to reward your employees or can build the cost of medical insurance into your future business goals.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is a less common employer-provided benefit than medical insurance—it’s offered by roughly half of companies—but it’s valued highly by employees. Sixty percent of employees report that life insurance matters to them, so there are many more people who want this benefit than are able to access it.2 And life insurance is more than just an attractive offering that employees want—it’s a promise to shield and protect your staff and their loved ones. Like medical coverage, life insurance serves both a practical and symbolic function by showing employees that you want to take care of them and are actually doing it. There are different options available to small businesses looking to take advantage of this benefit’s popularity, and a financial professional can walk you through them.


Short-term and long-term disability insurance

As with life insurance coverage, there’s a significant gap between employees who want long-term disability insurance and the number of companies that actually offer this type of employee benefit. This is another opportunity for small-business owners to attract top talent and really stand out with what they offer and how they support employees. Short-term disability insurance is slightly more commonly offered by companies, but there’s no limitation that keeps you from providing both types of coverage.


A competitive benefits package

No matter the size of your business, a New York Life financial professional can guide you in structuring a benefits package that attracts top employees and helps you keep the high performers you have given your business situation. Connect with a small-business professional to learn more about how New York Life product solutions can play a key role in your business’s benefits package.

Certain products may be available through one or more carriers not affiliated with New York Life Insurance Company, dependent on carrier authorization and product availability in your state or locality.

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