Originally posted July 11, 2014 by Alan Goforth on https://www.benefitspro.com.

Small businesses are taking a cautious approach to hiring, compensation and employee benefits, according to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report for Small Businesses. The study of businesses with three to 99 employees also found that benefits are a key component to employee hiring, retention and satisfaction.

Although 63 percent of small-business employees are extremely or very satisfied with their job, many believe there is room for improvement when it comes to their benefits packages. Only 12 percent are extremely satisfied with their benefits, while only 14 percent believe their benefits package meets their current family needs extremely well.

These numbers are vital to employers, because 50 percent of small-company employees said they are likely to seek a new job in the next year. Of that number, 57 percent said they probably would accept a job with slightly lower pay but better benefits. On the other side of the coin, 47 percent said improving their benefits packages is one thing their employers could do to keep them in their job.

“Employees at a small business might be satisfied with their pay, enjoy their company environment, their colleagues and the work itself, but that doesn’t mean better benefits offerings elsewhere won’t entice them to leave,” said Teresa White, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Aflac Columbus. “These findings should alert small-business decision-makers that robust benefits, including voluntary insurance, are an important way to keep employees engaged, productive and loyal.”

The study found that 85 percent of small-business employees consider voluntary benefits to be part of a comprehensive benefits program. Six in 10 workers at small companies see a growing need for voluntary insurance benefits today, driven by:

  • Rising medical costs (71 percent);
  • Increasing price of medical coverage (63 percent);
  • Increasing deductibles and copays (58 percent); and
  • Reduced number of benefits and/or amount of coverage by their employers (29 percent).

Small-business leaders are well aware of employee concerns and the importance of benefits. Although 84 percent said they either maintained or grew sales and revenues in 2013, they are concerned about taking care of employees and continuing their benefits options. This may be one reason why they hired at a slower pace than medium or large companies last year.