One of the biggest challenges small employers face with their benefits is health insurance, and specifically the rising costs associated with them.

Modern employee benefit offerings play a critical role in recruiting and retention. A recent survey from MetLife found that 73 percent of employees said customized benefits increase loyalty to their employer.

However, small businesses can struggle to offer the same quality and quantity of benefits that larger employers do, which makes competing for top talent and retaining high-performing employees more challenging.

Related: Small businesses struggle with waning employee loyalty

One solution for small business owners to overcome employee benefit issues is exploring outsourcing solutions such as a professional employer organization (PEO). Here are four ways a PEO can improve a small employer’s current employee benefits.

1. Provide employees with voluntary benefits

The last decade has seen employers put a bigger emphasis on adding a wide-variety of voluntary benefits and perks to their offerings. This is mostly due to the fact that while voluntary benefits were once considered to be “nice to have,” they are now viewed as must haves, especially by employees.

But voluntary benefits can be costly for small businesses, and with new trends emerging each year, they also have to be continuously updated which adds additional costs and time.

By partnering with a PEO, small business owners gain access to numerous voluntary benefits as part of their overall solution. Additionally, PEOs routinely monitor and add to their voluntary offerings, saving time for small employers and their leaders.

Some of the voluntary benefits offered by PEOs include:

  • Telehealth programs
  • Financial and legal advisement programs
  • Pet insurance
  • Identity theft protection services
  • Auto and home insurance
  • Accident and illness plans
  • Supplemental life insurance

2. Gain access to large-employer quality health care

One of the biggest challenges small employers face with their benefits is health insurance, and specifically the rising costs associated with them.

With small group offerings becoming more limited, business owners don’t have as many options to explore to improve their health care options and bring down costs. But this is where a PEO partnership can prove its value.

Through a PEO, small businesses gain access to similar quality and quantity of benefits as much larger employers, including health insurance that is tailored to the company’s workforce, industry and location.

Offering higher-quality health care benefits to employees is a great way to improve happiness, engagement, and ultimately retention. It’s also a great resource to attract and recruit top-talent to your organization.

3. Give employees complimentary benefits

While health care, retirement, and voluntary benefits tend to be the most sought-after components of a benefit plan, others can play a key role in recruiting and retention strategies. Complimentary benefits are one example.

A few common examples of complimentary benefits include:

  • Discounts on concerts, movie tickets, sporting events, Broadway shows, theme parks, shopping and more
  • Access to banking services such as savings, checking, loans, mortgages, and more
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) which provide advice, resources, and support 24/7

Most PEOs provide their clients with complimentary benefits as part of their overall benefit plan and come free of charge to employees.

4. Offer personalized benefits

The rise of personalization has impacted most areas of the modern workplace, and benefits are no exception.

Employees want and expect some degree of personalization with their benefit choices so that they get the most out of them for their families and themselves.

But offering personalized benefits can be a significant challenge for small business owners who are sometimes left with a one-size-fits all benefit plan. This is another area where a PEO can be valuable to a small employer.

PEOs provide their clients personalized HR solutions, which include benefits. Clients get healthcare and other benefits that are tailored to their company, industry, location, and more.

And with plenty of voluntary offerings and complimentary benefits available to them, employees can select benefits that they and their families need.

Personalized benefits are becoming more important as recruiting and retention grow more challenging, and small businesses can gain an advantage by offering them to current and future employees.

Exploring a PEO or other outsourcing solutions can help small business leaders enhance their employee benefit offerings and better compete for today’s top talent.


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Jan Kaupas is the senior vice president of sales at Extensis Group, a regional professional employer organization headquartered in the NYC area.