Cutbacks Weaken Loyalty at Smaller Employers

With small companies scrimping on employee benefits as the recovery stalls, a growing number of employers say that they are actively looking or open to better offers from other employers.  A recent study by MetLife’s Emplyee Benefits Trends produced some interesting results:

Less than half of the 1,412 small-business workers recently surveyed said they felt a strong sense of loyalty toward their current employers, down from 62% in a similar 2008 survey.  As many as 34% said they would rather be working for someone else.

By contrast, another study of 1,508 employers found their perceptions of employee loyalty had not changed, with 54% believing their workers were still fiercely loyal.

About 50% of workers who said they weren’t happy with their jobs blames company benefits.

During the downturn many small employers cut back or held benefits packages steady.  Since 2007, the number of employers offering prescription drug and disability benefits stayed roughly the same, while fewer offered medical, dental and life insurance.

The results are a “reality check for smaller employers who may still be viewing their workforce through rose-colored glasses,” Jeffery Tulloch, VP of US business at MetLife stated in a recent statement.  “Economic recovery will not only present opportunities for employers, but also for top performers.”

Yet, rather than merely boost spending, small employers should seek to optimize benefits with a broader goal of strengthening employee retention, increasing productivity and controlling costs.  One cost-effective approach is to provide voluntary benefits.  The study found that about half of the employees surveyed wanted key benefits available through the workplace, like dental and disability, even if they have to pay for them.

Another approach is to simply let an outsider take a look in.  Have your overall benefits plan assessed by a local employee benefit consultant.  Sometimes, the new set of eyes can create opportunities to strengthen your plan in a more cost-effective way, while reducing costs in overlooked areas.  These consultants, because they work with a variety of companies and company sizes, are oftentimes one of the best resources to offer alternatives and subjective opinions to your current plans.

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