Employee Benefits

All posts tagged Employee Benefits

Understanding the Current Status of Employee Benefits

No comments

Understanding the ever-changing employee benefits landscape is important for small business leaders, tasked with making decisions about employee benefits in their organizations. Each year, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) conduct a survey to examine employer-sponsored health benefit trends. Here are some of the main findings from the 2017 survey and suggests how this may affect healthcare decisions moving forward.

Health Insurance Premiums

  • In 2017, the average premium rose 4 percent for single coverage and 3
  • percent for family coverage. The average premiums were $6,690 and $18,764, respectively.
  • Premium costs varied widely across industry and regions in 2017.
  • The premium for family coverage was, on average, lower at small employers (3-199 employees) than at large employers—$17,615 compared to $19,235.

Employee Contributions

  • Most workers must pay a share of their health care costs, and 81 percent had a general annual deductible for single coverage in 2017.
  • Fifty-one percent of workers had a deductible of $1,000 or more for single coverage. The average deductible for all workers was $1,221
  • The average worker contribution toward the premium was 18 percent for single coverage and 31 percent for family coverage
  • In terms of dollar amounts, workers contributed $1,213 and $5,714 toward their premiums for single coverage and family coverage, respectively.

Plan Enrollment

  • Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) were the most common types of health plans with 48 percent of workers covered.
  • High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) were next with 28 percent of workers covered.
  • PPO enrollment has decreased by 8 percent over the last five years, and enrollment in HDHPs has risen by 9 percent over the same period.

Availability of Employer-sponsored Coverage

  • Only 40 percent of very small employers (three to nine employees) offer benefits, while virtually every large employer (1,000 or more employees) offers coverage.


  • Over half of large employers have embraced telemedicine, with 63 percent offering health care services through this method. Participants on the A Plus Benefits Medical Plan (in most states) have access to telemedicine with a $0 co-pay. If you have questions, please contact us at service@aplusbenefits.com or (801) 443-1090.

Supplemental and Voluntary Benefits

  • Dental is offered by 67 percent of small employers, 97 percent of large employers.
  • Vision is offered by 47 percent of small employers, 82 percent of large employers.
  • Critical illness is offered by 23 percent of small employers, 46 percent of large employers.
  • Hospital indemnity is offered by 16 percent of small employers, 28 percent of large employers.

Companies partnering with A Plus Benefits have access to all of these benefits options for employees. Knowing that only a small number of small employers offer some of these benefits, including these to your benefits offering can set you apart as an employer.

As this summary indicates, the market has been stable over the past few years and remains that way. The Affordable Care Act repeal effort is something to monitor—as well as the Cadillac tax, as the 2020 deadline approaches—but the market is stable despite these disruptions. Employers continue to offer employee benefits at high rates and that seems likely to be the future trend as well.

Read more
A Plus BenefitsUnderstanding the Current Status of Employee Benefits

The Benefits that Matter Most to Employees

The most effective benefits packages, the ones that get employers the most bang for their buck are those that are customized to the values and priorities of your employees. But everyone needs a place to start. A recent article from Benefits Pro highlights some of the benefits that most employees value to give you a baseline to start considering the effectiveness of your benefits package.group

Health insurance: Health insurance is still something that many employees seek out from employers. The Marketplace and ACA haven’t changed that. Next to health, employees also value dental and vision plans as well as savings options like HSAs and FSAs.

Paid holidays and leave: Paid time off is another benefit for employees.  According to SHRM, 97 percent of employers offer some type of paid leave and 97 percent also offer some paid holidays.

Recognition: Employees want to feel like their work is appreciated. From a simple thank you, to a free lunch every now and again, to a gift card, small gestures can mean a lot. Check out our free Employee Recognition Toolkit for even more ideas.

Retirement plan: Financial security is a high priority for most employees. Offering a 401(k) or other retirement option gives employees the opportunity to save for their future. A 401(k) can also be a great retention tool. According to research by Towers Watson, almost 50% of employees see retirement benefits as an important reason to stay with a company.

Flexible schedule: Flexibility is becoming a very popular benefit sought by employees of all generations, from younger Millennials to the 55+ crowd. If you don’t currently offer any flexible work options, now may be a great time to consider what you could offer to employees. Flexible work does not have to be one size fits all. Think would creative ways you can allow employees to adjust their work schedules to better fit their lives. Even if none of your employees have requested flexible work arrangements, they may be thinking about it.

Additional perks that are valued by employees according to SHRM:

  • Company-paid life insurance
  • Casual dress
  • Employee referral bonuses
  • Dependent care flexible spending accounts

If you are looking for ways to offer unique benefits options to your employees that will help you attract and retain the bets employee talent, contact us.

Read more
A Plus BenefitsThe Benefits that Matter Most to Employees

Small Business Employee Benefits Trends in 2015

One request we receive often from the small business owners we work with is access to information about what other companies are doing, particularly what benefits are being offered by other employers. The National Compensation Survey is conducted each year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and provides some insight into what types of benefits are offered to employees at small businesses around the country. The most recent data was released in March 2015 and offers some information that could be helpful as small business owners consider their benefits and total compensation strategies. For the purpose of this research we will be discussing small businesses in the private sector with fewer than 100 employees.

Health, Dental and Vision Benefitsstudent-849818_1920

  • Employees at 57% of small businesses have access to employer-sponsored medical coverage.
  • Only 30% of small businesses offer dental coverage and only 17% offer vision coverage.


  • Paid holidays and paid vacation time are among the most common time-off benefits; offered at 68% of businesses.
  • Unpaid family leave is offered at 81% of companies with fewer than 100 employees (even though FMLA laws only apply to those with 50 or more employees). Paid family leave is very rare and only offered at 8% of companies.
  • Paid time off for funerals, jury duty and sick time are offered at about half of small businesses (45%, 47% and 52% respectively).

Retirement Benefits

  • About half (51%) of small businesses offer some type of retirement plan to employees, with a participation rate of 35%.

Ancillary Benefits

  • 40% of small business offer access to life insurance while only 27% offer long-term disability coverage.
  • Only 4% of small businesses offer some type of flexible work arrangement.

This type of data can be extremely helpful for small business owners looking to attract and retain top employee talent. There are a couple of easy things businesses owners can do. First, you can make sure that your benefits offering is at least as robust as what a majority of other small businesses are offering. Second, you can look for opportunities to stand out from the crowd, by offering benefits that may not be available from other employers. Some of these might include, long-term disability, dental, vision and flexible working arrangements.

Working with a PEO, like A Plus Benefits, can provide small businesses owners with a cost-effective way to offer many of these benefits options to their employees. Contact us to learn more about our full suite employee benefits offerings.

Read more
A Plus BenefitsSmall Business Employee Benefits Trends in 2015

The Best Benefits Package to Attract Top Millennial Talent

We often hear from small business owners that attracting and retaining great employees is one of the biggest challenges they face. By the year 2020, Millennials will make up almost half (46%) of the workforce, which means that it is vital that small business leaders learn what these employees expect in order to successfully compete for the best employee talent. A recent article from BenefitsPro highlights five things that Millennials want with regard to benefits.entrepreneur-593378_1280

Choice and Variety: Millennials appreciate choice in their benefits package and may be turned off by a one-size-fits-all benefits package.  Offering multiple health plan options or an array of voluntary benefits, such as dental, vision, life insurance, long term disability, accident insurance, flexible spending etc. can attract these employees and keep them on board long-term.

Customizations and Control: Millennials like to have control over how they spend their money. Offering consumer-driven health plans, like those paired with health savings accounts can help appeal to these types of employees.

True simplicity: Often Millennials are entering the professional workforce for the first time. They may not have a lot of experience or knowledge about benefits. Offering employees access to a benefits expert who can help them make the best choices for their lifestyle can be very valuable.

Interaction and Collaboration: Millennials like to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Technology: Finally, Millennials want access to technology solutions that make using their benefits easier.

If you are looking to improve your employee benefits package to make sure you are attracting and retaining the best employees, consider working with a PEO like A Plus Benefits. We offer a variety of benefits options including multiple health plan options including HSA plans, voluntary benefits like life insurance, long term disability, dental, vision, 401(k), flexible spending and so much more. Out team to expert Benefits Specialists can help answer your employee’s benefits questions and make them feel confident in their benefits selections. Our technology solutions give employees access to benefits information online.

A Plus Benefits helps small businesses succeed by partnering to provide the resources, solutions and expertise required to win in an increasingly competitive market. Contact us for more information about how we can help.

Read more
A Plus BenefitsThe Best Benefits Package to Attract Top Millennial Talent

Attracting Top Employee Talent in a Competitive Job Market

Since the economy rebounded and unemployment rates returned to low level, small business owners have struggled with how to attract the top talent they need to take their company to the next level. In Utah with a 3.4 % unemployment rate and an influx of large corporations moving into the state, small businesses have to find new ways to bring in the best job candidates. Here are some suggestions from an article in US News and World Report, to bring in the best of the best when you are recruiting for an open position.DeathtoStock_Medium5

1- Have clear, easy to understand job descriptions. Clear job descriptions give potential employees an accurate picture of the job so they can determine if it would be a good fit for them. If you have not reviewed your job descriptions in a while (or you don’t have any written job descriptions), before you recruit for an open position is a great time to take a look. Our expert HR Advisors can help you with this task.

2- Don’t force candidates to use convoluted and time-consuming application systems. While “big data” is popular these days, forcing applicants to jump through hoops to apply may deter the best talent, who can easily apply for positions elsewhere.  If you use application software, make sure that it is user friendly and glitch free.

3- Don’t play games on salary. Refusing to discuss salary until a formal offer is made can get your best candidates to turn away. Be honest with yourself that employees work for money. They need to know that the job will allow them to take care of themselves and their families. Talking about salary upfront takes away any removes any surprises if an offer is made. Out HR Advisors can help you conduct a salary survey for your open positions, to make sure your planned salary will attract the talent you need.

4- Respect candidates’ time. Avoid cancelling an interview at the last minute, start interviews on time, and actively listen to the candidate in the interview.  This shows the potential employee that you respect them. The interview is a good opportunity to showcase your company culture and give the prospect some idea of the way your employees are treated.

5- Keep interviews focused on questions related to the work. Odd interview questions (like if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Or what kind of animal do you relate with most?) will make your strongest candidates feel silly and they don’t really give a good insight into the candidate anyway.  Stick to behavior based interview questions. Need help developing them? Talk to one of our expert HR Advisors.

6- Be transparent throughout the hiring process. Explain the hiring timeline and set appropriate expectations for communication through the hiring process. This will help keep the good candidate interested. Be honest about the job details and any downfalls of the position. Allow the candidate opportunities to speak with current employees about their experience with your organization.

7- Remember that interviewing is a two-way street. Put your best foot forward and remember that the candidate is deciding whether your organization is a good fit for them as well. Allow them to ask questions and learn more about the company.

8- Be worth working for. Long before you recruit for a position, make sure you have laid the groundwork for a company culture and environment where employees want to work. In addition to paying fair salaries and offering competitive benefits, the best employees are looking for positions with companies who value effective leadership, professional development and employee recognition.

Read more
A Plus BenefitsAttracting Top Employee Talent in a Competitive Job Market

3 Reasons PEOs Make Sense for Small Businesses

When an individual decides to start a business it is because they love what they do. They have a passion for their industry that drives them to put in the time and resources to build a company of their own. What most small business owners don’t have a passion for is all of the pieces that come along with hiring employees. Finding and keeping great employees is necessary for any business that wants to grow and succeed. But many small business owners struggle to find the time to focus on the growth of their employees and their business. That is where a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) comes in.Success

Partnering with a PEO gives a business owner:

More time: Partnering with a PEO means you spend less time on the administrative tasks related to your employees. PEOs process your payroll, pay your quarterly and annual employer taxes, issue W-2s, complete unemployment paperwork, track employee time off, negotiate with insurance carriers, train employees, conduct drug screening and a number of other time consuming tasks that pull you away from the reason you went into business in the first place.

Better access to resources: The nature of the PEO relationship allows companies to have access to a wide variety of resources including employee benefits such as health, dental, vision, life insurance, disability, 401(k), and flexible spending accounts. These benefits usually come with enhanced coverage at a lower cost since PEOs are able pool small businesses together to provide better buying power.

Expert advice: Most business owners are experts in their field. They may know everything there is to know about plumbing, advertising, or dentistry, but they are not experts in human resources, payroll, benefits or risk management. A PEO hires skilled employees in each of these departments, providing immediate access to expert level advice whenever it is needed.

Over the past 25 years, A Plus Benefits has learned from our clients that the benefits small and medium sized business experience from partnering with a PEO are second to none. We have been lucky enough to work with great businesses over the years and learn a lot about what it takes for small businesses to succeed, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Research shows that “small businesses that use PEOs grow 7 to 9 percent faster, have employee turnover that is 23 to 32 percent lower, and are 50 percent less likely to go out of business than companies that don’t use PEOs.”

If you want to know more about how working with a PEO can benefit your business specifically, contact us today for a no-obligation consultation.

Read more
A Plus Benefits3 Reasons PEOs Make Sense for Small Businesses

Employees with Flexible Schedules Actually Work More

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you let your employees set their own schedules? I’m sure for many business owners the idea sets off alarm bells in their heads. But consider for a moment how important it is that all of your employees are in the office from 8:00am-5:00pm Monday through Friday. Could one of your employees get the same job done 7:30am-5:30pm four days a week and 8:00am-12:00pm the other day?alarm-clock-590383_1280

A recent article in Inc. begs that very question. It focuses on research done by three European professors that suggests that employees who have more control over their schedule actually work more than those with set schedules. The research found that “when management doesn’t record hours worked at all, letting employees set their own start and finish times and control their time off, workers put in an additional 7.4 hours a week above and beyond what they’re obligated to do.” This is at least in part due to the fact that employees are more likely to feel motivated to continue working until their job is complete, rather than when their shift is over, if their time is not being monitored.

While it may seem counterintuitive and while you may be thinking “that would never work with my employees,” take a moment to consider it. Do you have good employees who might be even better if they had more flexibility in their scheduling?

Having more flexible scheduling options for employees won’t just get them to put in more time, it will also help attract and retain top talent. According to the 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study by Workplace Trends 75% of employees (and 74% of those unemployed) ranked workplace flexibility as their top benefit. And on top of that, employers who offer workplace flexibility see additional benefits as well. “The top benefits organizations saw in their work flex programs were improved employee satisfaction (87%), increased productivity (71%), and that they retained current talent (65%). 69% use their programs as a recruiting tool and 54% said that their programs positively impacted their recruiting.”

This idea of workplace flexibility is great, but it will only work if you have the company culture to back it up. Simply telling employees to make their own schedule is likely not enough. You must first build a culture of accountability where you set appropriate expectations and then allow employees to demonstrate if they are able to meet those. As the article states, you “treat your employees like adults.”

Let us know what you think. Have you seen this work for your company? Share with us on Twitter using the #APlusInsights.

Photo from Pixabay.

Read more
A Plus BenefitsEmployees with Flexible Schedules Actually Work More

Small Businesses Confused about ACA Tax Reporting Requirements

A Plus Benefits recognizes the amount of uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for small business owners and we remain committed to helping our clients better understand and comply with any necessary requirements. As you may have heard, a recent Supreme Court ruling upheld the ACA in its current form, which means that certain requirements put into place when it was originally signed into law in 2010 are now set to move forward.tax-468440_1280

One main area of confusion surrounds IRS Code Section 6056, often referred to as the employer shared responsibility reporting. When the news came out last fall that the employer shared responsibility requirement (also called the “employer mandate” or the “pay or play” provision) was delayed for some qualified employers with 50-99 employees until 2016, many small business owners assumed they had no new requirements for 2015, but that is not the case. While the requirement to offer minimum essential coverage to employees or face tax penalties has been delayed for certain employers in this category, there are still new tax reporting requirements that the organizations must comply with.

All employers with an average of 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees during 2014 (according to IRS guidelines) are still required to perform the IRS tax reporting that applies to applicable large employers for 2015, even if they are not required to offer coverage that meets the minimum essential coverage requirements of the employer shared responsibility regulation until 2016.

In order to not face tax penalties for not offering minimum essential coverage even though you are an applicable large employer, you must meet the following requirements:

  • The employer must have had on average between 50 and 99 employees (including FTEs) in 2014.
  • The employer cannot have decreased the number of employees to below 99, just to meet avoid this requirement.
  • Medical plan coverage offered cannot have been decreased or eliminated by the employer between February 9, 2014 and the last day of the plan year that began in 2015.
  • The employer will have to complete the above reporting requirements and certify to the to the IRS that it meets the requirements listed above when they file their 1095-C form in early 2016.

Again, even if you meet these requirements and are not required to offer coverage in 2015, you must complete the tax reporting for 2015. Failing to do so can cost the company significant fines and penalties. A Plus Benefits will be reaching out to clients in the next few weeks to provide the necessary resources for them to determine which ACA tax reporting requirements apply to their company.

If you have questions about the ACA tax reporting rules, please contact us.

Read more
A Plus BenefitsSmall Businesses Confused about ACA Tax Reporting Requirements

5 Ways to Keep Employees Happy and Productive

If you took a poll of your employees today on whether they would like to work someone where fun or somewhere boring, there is no doubt that close to 100% would respond “fun.” Individuals spend almost 1/3 of their waking hours at work, so why wouldn’t they want to enjoy at least some of that time? I don’t doubt that most business owners would like their organizations to be considered fun, but also understand that maintaining productivity is vital. This is especially true for small businesses who are always trying to do more with fewer resources.

A recent article in Entrepreneur gives some great ideas for creating a company culture that is both fun and productive:free-time-422035_1280

  1. Organize challenges: Bring a little healthy competition into your workplace to add some excitement. You could do this company-wide or within each department. Our company did this last year by organizing some members of the company into teams who worked to come up with a proposal for a new product or service that would result in an increase in revenue. Everyone enjoyed working together with their team and competing with the others to have the best proposal. The icing on the cake was the new ideas brought to company leadership, one of which has since been implemented. You can also consider some non-work related challenges. Past challenges at A Plus Benefits include cooking contests, dress up days (best corporate apparel outfit,   best Halloween costume, etc.) and watermelon carving contests. Perhaps you want to organize a Ping-Pong, foosball or corn hole tournament.
  1. Encourage breaks: It may sound counter-productive, but taking breaks actually makes you more productive. Being able to take a step back from a project or issue and come back with a clear head can be invaluable. It’s important to encourage employees to take periodic short breaks. Some suggestions for encouraging breaks include having free coffee, soda or snacks in the break room where employees can step away from their desks for a few minutes. Managers should model this behavior by making sure they take breaks as well.
  1. Socialize offsite: Research shows that employees who have friends at work are happier, more engaged and more productive. One way to encourage these relationships is to provide opportunities for employees to get together outside of the workplace. It doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive event. What is most important is that people have the opportunity to get to known their co-workers personally. They don’t have to become best friends, but making that connection is important. Perhaps you could treat one department each month to an off-site lunch or each manager could host their teams for a backyard barbecue or potluck.
  1. Celebrate achievements: Get your employees involved in celebrating the great things going on at your company. Maybe you have a sales employee who is absolutely killing it, or you beat your first quarter goals, or you have an employee celebrating a milestone birthday or anniversary. Find something to celebrate with your team. People like to feel like they are a part of something great and celebrations remind us of the progress we are making.
  1. Focus on productivity, not schedules: This is especially important for your managers, but may apply to other employees as well. Rather than focusing on what time people arrive at work and what time they leave, focus on what actually gets done during the day. Allowing some flexibility in scheduling allows employees to work when they are most productive. For some employees, occasionally working from home may actually make them more productive than being in the office. Think about what might work best for your company.

Finding a balance between having a little fun and staying productive is important for all small businesses. Do you have some best practices you could share with other small business owners? Share with us on Twitter using the #APlusInsights.

Read more
A Plus Benefits5 Ways to Keep Employees Happy and Productive

Consumer Driven Health Plans Gaining Popularity: What You Need to Know

The last few years have led to many changes in the health insurance industry. In addition to the changes mandated by the Affordable Care Act, a certain type of health plan has continued to gain popularity. These plans are called Consumer Driven Health Plans (CDHP) or High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP). The plans are different than traditional plans because they focus on offering lower premiums, due to higher deductibles and the elimination of co-pays. With these plans, most covered expenses (other than wellness) must be paid for by the employee until they reach their deductible. The plans are also HSA (Health Savings Account) qualifying , meaning an employee can put money into a bank account pre-tax to use for medical expenses.stockvault-stethoscope138954

A recent article in Entreprenuer, highlights some of the reason for their increase in popularity:

“Why is the market moving in this direction? For starters, high-deductible plans are attractive to employers because it means managing less of the insurance cost. On the employee side, both high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts encourage employees to be more mindful about their health and more involved in making decisions for the best-value care.”

These types of plans can be a great way for employers and employees to have more control over their health care costs. That being said for an employee who is used to a traditional PPO or HMO plan, these can seem risky or even scary. Education about these plans is key to their success. The A Plus Benefits Health Plan includes two high deductible health plan options that are HSA qualifying. We have Account Managers who are knowledgeable about these plans and can help employers and employees make educated benefits decisions.

It may seem early to start thinking about open enrollment, but now is a great time to rethink your benefits strategy and prepare an action plan for October and November. Contact your Client Account Manager to start the conversation.

Read more
A Plus BenefitsConsumer Driven Health Plans Gaining Popularity: What You Need to Know