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As the fall rolls around, it brings with it Employee Benefits Enrollment season for many employers. Not all companies, especially fledgling small businesses, can afford to offer and/or pay a significant portion of the costs of benefits. This change in season does serve as a good reminder to evaluate your employee benefits options as a significant means to invest in your employees.

Build Your Knowledge

First, know what’s required of you as an employer. In New Jersey, employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide “minimum essential” health care coverage for employees who work 30 or more hours per week, or they will be required to pay an annual penalty. This health care coverage requirement doesn’t impact employers with two to 50 employees.

There are so many options when it comes to health insurance and retirement. The insurance industry, like most others, has tons of acronyms such as OOP for out-of-pocket costs, HSA for health savings accounts, FSAs for flexible spending accounts, and EAP for employee assistance programs. Research and read up on what these plans mean and what options you should consider.

And, just as every business comes in different sizes, remember that benefits aren’t one size fits all. Request and review plan options for small businesses, and consider ones that provide local coverage versus regional coverage for affordability. Check out the varied options that are offered at different price points for insurance for your team.

Seek Advice and Counsel

Find someone you trust that specializes and can advise you. This includes someone with knowledge of insurance plans, retirement plans, and a CPA to help you understand the true costs and tax implications of your decisions. Once you decide what you are offering your team, ask these professionals to be available to meet with your team and discuss their options with them.

Employee Benefits are More than Insurance

We’ve already noted that health care, insurance, and other benefit plans and programs are not always affordable, so consider offering non-financial benefits and other means to reward your team. After experiencing work from home during the pandemic, if your work environment permits it, you may find that adding flex time or a hybrid work environment goes a long way with some employees. Consider paid time off for volunteer service or additional non-national holidays.

Most important, you should listen to your team. They have great ideas. Sometimes, as a business owner, it’s hard to know your team’s needs. What we consider to be a valuable benefit may not be what they value. Also, seek out and listen to other small business owners and consider what they offer in terms of benefits. Whatever works best for your company, you can’t go wrong with investing in your employees as they are your most valuable asset.