When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)became law, companies scrambled to understand – and then adapt to-- the changes in regulation. And no market segment struggled morethan small businesses.

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Businesses with 100 or fewer employees have found themselves ata crossroads over the past few years, challenged by how toaffordably attract employees and keep the ones they have.

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It’s not an unfamiliar position. Small businesses have longstruggled to balance cost with valuable benefits options – achallenge that’s compounded by confusion over the changes usheredin by PPACA and exactly which responsibilities lie with the smallbusiness owner. Amid the confusion, small businesses still have toattract and retain quality employees like any other business --only with fewer resources. That means small business owners arespending valuable time shopping for benefits options they oftendon’t fully understand.

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No matter which industry they inhabit, small businesses facesome universal challenges – financial pressure, employee retentionand productivity. Employers are constantly trying to simplify theirbenefits process, respond to their workforce’s diverse needs,reduce the amount of time they spend shopping for benefits and staywithin or under their budget. The right benefits strategy can helpthem achieve this balance, but it’s not always easy – particularlyif they’re going it alone.

Law of Attraction/Retention

Five years after PPACA implementation, employers still struggleto comprehend the law’s structures and requirements.. Many smallbusinesses need help navigating the regulatory requirements,exploring options and staying compliant.

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The challenge continues to intensify. Thanks to the advent of anew presidential election cycle, PPACA is once again front andcenter for the small business owner. New questions about potentialchanges, uncertainty about the future of a program and a lack ofclarity about how it will affect the business itself – all thesehave employers searching for help.

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And they’re wise to do so. According to MetLife’s annualEmployee Benefit Trends Study, benefits play a larger role thanever in small business employee attraction and retention. The studyshows that employees consider their benefits to be an importantpart of their financial futures. Over one-third of small businessemployees said that dental insurance is a key reason they’veremained with their employer, with nearly the same proportionnaming vision coverage as the primary deal breaker.

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Jimbo Story, VP, Small Group Sales & Specialty Markets atMetLife, thinks that’s good news for employers. “Understanding whattheir employees’ needs are is the first step for employers,” hesays. “Then, it’s a matter of choosing the right funding mechanism– whether they’re committing employer dollars or a portion ofemployer dollars along with employee contributions towardbenefits.”

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Such decisions make the broker’s role more important than ever.“Small business owners aren’t benefits experts,” Story says. “Theyplace a high value on expert guidance, and they want to buildstrong relationships with their advisors.”

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Those advisors, he says, can offer a wide range of benefitsoptions to small business owners and their employees. Products likevision and dental can be a low-cost way to increase employeeloyalty. And a solid benefits package doesn’t have to hurt thepocketbook. Employees aren’t opposed to shouldering some of theexpense: The MetLife study shows that over half of employees arewilling to bear some of their benefits costs in exchange for morechoices that meet their needs.

The Benefits That Drive Results

To demonstrate to small business owners the value of voluntaryoptions, Story says brokers should connect the dots for them.Brokers, he says, can show an employer the gaps in a benefitstrategy and how those gaps can be filled.

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“Agents and brokers can help their small business clientsprovide a range of cost-conscious benefits – and the best way tohelp them is to simply show the employer options,” Story says.“Brokers can illustrate which plan design options would reducecosts or how cost-sharing can ease the financial burden on bothemployer and employee.”

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Though health care costs will continue to be a top concern forsmall businesses, the broker can play a valuable role in helpingemployers offer key ancillary benefits that improve loyalty and jobsatisfaction. “For brokers looking to expand their client base oradd new product lines, there is an opportunity,” Story says. “Bybecoming a trusted resource for small businesses, brokers can helpthem locate right-sized options that improve business results andmake for happier, more loyal employees. “

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For more information, please visit www.MetLife.com/smallbusiness.

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L0816476368[exp1017][All States][DC,PR] © 2016 Metropolitan LifeInsurance Company, New York, NY 10166

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