Leveraging Employee Benefits for Small Businesses: A Game Changer for Small Enterprises

Discover how leveraging employee benefits can be a game changer for small businesses, contributing to increased productivity, morale, and overall business growth.

Leveraging Employee Benefits for Small Businesses: A Game Changer for Small Enterprises

In the competitive landscape of small businesses, every edge can make a significant difference. One key area that many small enterprises overlook is the power of comprehensive employee benefits. Offering benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and flexible working hours isn't just a strategy for large corporations; it's an equally powerful tool for small businesses. These benefits help attract and retain top talent and foster a positive work environment, leading to increased job satisfaction and loyalty among employees.

Furthermore, small businesses might perceive that providing a robust employee benefits program could be financially draining. However, this is far from the truth. Several cost-effective options are tailored specifically for smaller enterprises, providing a win-win situation for the employer and the employees. From tax advantages for the business to improved financial stability for employees, the rewards of a comprehensive benefits package can far outweigh the investment. When leveraged strategically, employee benefits can be a game changer, propelling small businesses to new heights.

Understanding Employee Benefits for Small Businesses

Employee benefits for small businesses refer to non-wage compensation provided to employees over and above their typical salaries or wages. These benefits encompass a broad array of offerings that can be categorized into legally required, optional, and fringe benefits. Legally required benefits include social security, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation. 

Optional benefits include health, vision, dental insurance, retirement plans, paid vacation, and sick leave. Fringe benefits include gym memberships, flexible work hours, telecommuting options, or employee wellness programs. While these offerings may differ from one tiny business to another based on various factors, the underlying objective remains the same - enhancing the overall job value for employees while promoting a healthy work-life balance.

The Significance of Employee Benefits in Small Business Operations

The role of employee benefits in small businesses must be balanced. These benefits have far-reaching implications impacting employee satisfaction and the company's bottom line.

1. Talent Attraction and Retention: In the face of fierce competition for skilled talent, offering a comprehensive benefits package makes small businesses more attractive to prospective employees. It's a compelling differentiation that can tip the balance in your favor when candidates choose between job offers.

2. Employee Morale and Productivity: Benefits contribute to a supportive work environment, which boosts employee morale. Employees who feel valued and cared for are more likely to be invested in their jobs and exhibit higher productivity. 

3. Lower Turnover Rate: High employee turnover can be costly for small businesses. However, with an appealing benefits package, employees are more likely to stay, reducing the costs related to hiring and training new staff.

4. Enhanced Corporate Image: A business that cares for its employees projects a positive image to customers, suppliers, and potential investors. It reflects well on the company's values and business practices, promoting a positive public perception.

5. Better Employee Health: Health-related benefits lead to healthier employees, reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity.

6. Tax Incentives: Certain employee benefits are tax-deductible. This aspect can lead to substantial savings for small businesses, further emphasizing the financial viability of providing such benefits.

In conclusion, employee benefits are not merely an expense but a strategic investment that can yield substantial returns for small businesses. By understanding and harnessing their potential, small businesses can level the playing field, compete effectively for top talent, and achieve sustained growth.

Mandatory Employee Benefits For A Small Business To Offer

Regarding employee benefits, there are specific mandatory offerings that every small business must provide to their employees. Let's delve into the details of these compulsory benefits and better understand their significance in maintaining a healthy work environment.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is one of the most valued benefits for employees. Small businesses can provide health insurance coverage to their employees through group plans. This offers financial protection to employees in case of medical emergencies and contributes to their overall well-being. Additionally, offering health insurance can also provide tax advantages to the business.

Worker's Compensation

Worker's compensation is a mandatory benefit that small businesses must provide to their employees. The insurance program benefits employees who become ill or injured on the job. This ensures financial support to the employees during their recovery period and protects the business from potential legal complications.


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows employees to continue their health insurance coverage after termination of employment. While it's typically associated with larger businesses, some state laws may require small businesses to comply with COBRA regulations. Offering this benefit helps maintain goodwill with former employees, potentially aiding in future re-hiring scenarios.


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires employers to provide unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. While the FMLA does not generally apply to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, voluntarily offering similar perks can boost employee morale and establish a supportive company culture.

Top Benefits That Matter The Most To Employees

While there are several benefits small businesses can offer, it is crucial to prioritize those that matter the most to employees. By understanding employees' needs, small businesses can create a competitive package that attracts and retains top talent. Here are some benefits that employees highly value. 

Life Insurance

Life insurance is a highly valued benefit among employees. It provides a financial safety net for the employee's family in the unfortunate event of their demise. This benefit can ease the financial burden and provide peace of mind, knowing their loved ones are cared for. For small businesses, group life insurance plans can be a cost-effective way to provide this benefit. Not only does it add to the appeal of the overall benefits package, but it also conveys a message of care and concern for the employee's well-being beyond the workplace.

Mental Health Assistance

The importance of mental health assistance in the workplace cannot be overstated. Employees are increasingly looking for employers who prioritize mental health and well-being. Small businesses can offer mental health benefits in various ways, such as providing access to counseling services, sponsoring mindfulness or stress management workshops, or offering flexible work hours to promote work-life balance. 

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are valuable in any benefits package. These programs support employees facing personal issues that could affect their job performance, health, and well-being. Services can range from counseling and mental health support to financial advice and legal assistance. Small businesses can contract with EAP providers to give their employees access to professional, confidential help. 

Dental and Vision Insurance 

Dental and vision insurance are two of the most sought-after benefits by employees. Dental insurance typically covers a portion of the cost of a range of dental services, from routine cleanings and check-ups to more complex procedures such as root canals or oral surgery. Similarly, vision insurance can cover regular eye exams and partially or fully cover the cost of eyeglasses or contact lenses. 

Flexible Work Arrangements

In today's digital age, flexible work arrangements are becoming increasingly popular. This could include options for remote work, flexible work hours, or compressed work weeks. Such flexibility can greatly enhance work-life balance, increasing job satisfaction and productivity.

Training and Professional Development

Employees appreciate employers who invest in their growth and development. Offering opportunities for professional development, like workshops, seminars, or tuition reimbursement, can help employees acquire new skills and boost their career progression. This not only benefits employees but also contributes to the growth of the business.

Retirement Savings Plan

Retirement savings plans, like a 401(k), provide employees with a means to plan for their future. Businesses that match a portion of their employee's contributions to the plan can stand out as an employer of choice. Retirement benefits provide financial security for employees and can lead to tax savings for the business.

Wellness Programs

Health and wellness programs can include initiatives like gym memberships, mental health support, stress management workshops, or health screenings. These programs promote a healthy lifestyle among employees, leading to improved performance and reduced absenteeism.

Aside from the standard paid vacation and sick leave, offering additional PTO for personal matters or volunteering can be a highly attractive benefit. This demonstrates respect for employees' personal time and commitment to social responsibility.

By offering these valued benefits, small businesses can create a positive work environment that attracts and retains top talent and drives business success. Remember, small business employee benefits are not just a cost - they are an investment in your business's most valuable asset: its people.

How To Set Up an Attractive Employee Benefits Program

Creating attractive and competitive benefits packages requires strategic thinking, careful planning, and a deep understanding of your employees' needs. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you build an effective small business benefits package for your small business.

  1. Understand Your Employees' Needs: Start by understanding what your employees value the most. You may conduct surveys or have one-on-one discussions to gather insights about their preferences. 
  2. Research the Market: Look at what your competitors are offering. This can give you a good idea of the standard benefits employees in your industry expect.
  3. Budget Planning: Define a clear budget for your employee benefits package. While you want attractive benefits, you must do so within your business' financial capacity.
  4. Consider a Broad Range of Benefits: Don't limit your benefits package to health insurance and retirement plans. Consider many benefits, including flexible working hours, mental health support, wellness programs, and professional development opportunities.
  5. Work With a Benefits Consultant: If you need help deciding what to include in your package, consider working with a benefits consultant. They can help you design a comprehensive benefits package that fits your budget and meets your employees' needs.
  6. Communicate With Employees: Once you've designed your benefits package, clearly communicate it to your employees. Make sure they understand the value of the benefits you're offering.
  7. Regularly Review and Update Your Benefits Package: Employee needs and market standards can change. Make it a point to periodically review and update your benefits package to ensure it remains competitive and relevant.

Remember, an attractive employee benefits package can be a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top talent, fostering employee satisfaction, and driving business growth.

Determining the Cost of an Employee Benefits Package

The cost of an employee benefits package can vary significantly based on the type, extent, and scope of benefits offered. As a rule of thumb, businesses often spend approximately 20-30% of an employee's salary on benefits. However, this percentage can fluctuate based on several factors.

Group Health Insurance

Providing health insurance can be one of the most significant expenses in your benefits package. The average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance was $7,470 for single coverage and $21,342 for family coverage in 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Employers paid 82% of the cost for single coverage and 70% for family coverage on average.

Retirement Contributions

Retirement contributions, such as a 401(k) match, can significantly cost your benefits package. The cost will depend on your match program. For instance, if you offer a 100% match on the first 3% of an employee's salary that they contribute to the 401(k), and the employee earns $50,000 and contributes 3%, this would cost you $1,500.

Life, Dental, and Vision Insurance

Life, dental, and vision insurance are relatively less expensive benefits to provide. Costs can vary depending on the coverage level and the number of employees. Life insurance costs $150-$200 per employee per year. In contrast, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental and vision insurance costs can range from $250 to $450 per employee per year.

Professional Development and Training

The cost of professional development and training programs will depend on the type and frequency of the opportunities you provide. According to the Association for Talent Development, companies spent $1,299 per employee per year on training in 2019.

Wellness Programs

Wellness program costs vary widely, from minor expenses for providing healthy snacks or a gym discount to significant fees for comprehensive wellness programs that include fitness classes, mental health resources, and health screenings. 

Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements can often be a low-cost but highly valued benefit. Costs include setting up remote work technology or slightly decreasing productivity during compressed work weeks.

PTO is the cost of an employee's salary and benefits when they're not working. For example, if an employee with a salary of $50,000 takes five days of PTO, this would cost you approximately $1,000, plus the cost of their benefits for those days.

In conclusion, determining the cost of an employee benefits package requires a thorough analysis of the individual components of the package. While some benefits, like health insurance and retirement contributions, can be quite costly, others, like flexible work arrangements, can be an excellent way to provide value to employees at a relatively low cost. Additionally, remember that tax advantages, increased productivity, and decreased turnover can frequently offset the costs of providing benefits.

Do you want to offer the best benefits to your employees? Head to the Benefit360 Experts website and check out the employee benefits program they are offering.