Quick look: For the past several months, the modernization of benefits has been widely discussed and largely appreciated. This makes it surprising to learn that a new report details employee benefits satisfaction has dropped to a decade low. Though things seem to be turning in the right direction, it may simply not be as quick or effective as workers would like. Therefore, businesses are relying on their broker relationships to guide them on ways to improve.
A 2023 MetLife study, which surveyed 2,840 benefits leaders and 2,884 full-time employees, has revealed benefits satisfaction among employees has dropped to the lowest point in a decade to 61%, reduced from 64% in 2022. Additionally, the gap between what employers perceive about employee satisfaction and how employees actually feel has increased from 3% to 22%.
Yet, there’s been increased importance placed on benefit customization to meet the unique needs of employees, so where does the discrepancy lie?
Taking a closer look at a few of the challenges small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face today highlights areas possibly being overlooked and where brokers can help their clients come out on top.
Evaluate employees’ higher expectations
For decades, benefits administration has generally followed the status quo with a few select options regarding health and retirement plans. However, with several generations making up the workplace, all with varying needs, expectations are much higher than they’ve been in years past.
Furthermore, employees are faced with financial and emotional concerns due to a spike in inflation, post-pandemic effects, mental health issues, and more – and as a result, seek support from their employers. Demands have risen since the beginning of the pandemic, and research shows the average number of employee “must-have” benefits have increased from 6.6 in early 2020 to 8.3 in 2023.
Traditional health and 401(k) plans still top the list of benefits, but employees also want options like employee assistance and financial wellness programs and resources. Though many employers understand the current demand, they have yet to update their benefits to match employee needs and therefore, put their retention and recruitment efforts at risk.
It can be overwhelming for business leaders to decide exactly when, where, and how to invest in benefit changes. Here is when brokers can offer their SMB clients the expertise of a professional employer organization (PEO) solution. A PEO can tailor benefits to the specific needs of each company, including what’s best in terms of competitiveness and cost.
Incorporate financial wellness into a benefits plan
Increased and often, unexpected expenses attributed to the pandemic are weighing heavily on employees as well. Many struggle with meeting the rise of everyday expenses while also planning for their retirement future. Therefore, employees are saving less, making early withdrawals from their retirement funds, and living paycheck to paycheck.
Financial stress is one of the leading causes of mental and physical health problems, resulting in a cycle of decline. 48% of employees surveyed for the MetLife study cited financial concerns, an increase from 31% in 2022, as causing a decline in their mental health. Plus, only 55% of employees reported financial wellness, though employers believe 83% of their employees are financially in good shape.
Inflation has affected people more significantly than business leaders may realize. Many are struggling to keep up with the rise in rent, groceries, and transportation, all of which are the basics necessary for everyday life. Therefore, financial wellness solutions have changed to a “must-have” benefit versus a supplement need. It’s become a necessary part of the broker-client conversation to determine how these can be incorporated.
Create a personalized approach to care
Employees want to feel cared for by their employer, yet the MetLife survey reveals 42% of employees don’t. This feeling differs for each employee based on their situation and experience and will likely change throughout the course of their career.
Therefore, employers must create a tailored benefit plan based on employee input, as well as industry trends. Brokers who introduce a PEO solution can help their clients prioritize what’s most important and create a strategy encompassing specific needs.
Connecting clients with a sustainable HR solution
Like employees, SMBs also seek personalization. By connecting clients with a PEO solution, it provides access to a team of HR professionals who can guide SMBs through all aspects of HR. A PEO is equipped with the time, resources, and experience to keep businesses up-to-date on the latest industry trends while ensuring they maintain compliance with regards to changing regulations.
Brokers who work with a PEO like ExtensisHR can connect clients with a sustainable and flexible HR solution with a person-to-person approach. Unlike big-box PEOs, which are driven by a one-size-fits-all approach, ExtensisHR focuses on customizing solutions based on a company’s ever-changing business needs. This is reflected by a(n):
- Dedicated customer service model and HR Manager
- In-house service team
- 97% same-day case resolution rate
- 11 second response time
- Above average Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 82
This level of attention ensures SMB leaders and their employees have a voice in the changes being made; therefore, driving more satisfactory outcomes. This is in addition to a full suite of HR administration and management services, including:
- Benefit services – Access to premium benefits at competitive prices as part of a flexible, cost-effective strategy to attract and retain top talent
- Risk and compliance services – A team of compliance experts keep SMBs compliant with current and upcoming federal, state, and local regulations
- HR technology – Proprietary mobile technology to manage HR tasks and reporting tools to measure work performance and cost management
In the scramble to stay competitive, SMBs must continue balancing what’s new in the industry with what’s best for their company’s unique needs. Arbitrarily adding new benefits come at a cost to both employers and their workers, usually without any payoff. We alleviate the weight of benefit administration and HR challenges to help SMBs drive growth.
To maximize benefit investments and strengthen your client relationships, learn how our PEO solution can support you. Contact ExtensisHR today.