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Benefits critical to attract good employees

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Providing good benefits to your company won’t come cheap — benefits can cost up to one-third of an employee’s salary. However, benefits are vital to attracting and keeping skillful and loyal employees. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 45 percent of businesses with three to nine employees offered health benefits in 2007. For companies with 10 to 199 employees, 59 percent offered health benefits.

Benefits can include:

•Health insurance
•Vision care
•Life insurance
•Paid holidays
•Vacation pay
•Employee stock ownership plan
•Retirement benefits
•Dental insurance
•Short- and long-term disability
•Accidental death and dismemberment
•Tuition reimbursement
•Health-care spending account
•Employee assistance program

Each type of insurance includes a variety of services and payment options. Plans can be different based on deductibles, co-payments and maximum payouts. The size of your business and the number of employees enrolled in the plan will be determining factors in the benefits you can afford to offer and contributions you can make to offset employee costs.

To help sort through the options, order the importance of potential benefits you can provide. Determine which ones you can afford and consult a benefit plan administrator. Make sure that benefits carriers have data to back up their performance claims. Look for carriers who provide performance guarantees in areas of claim accuracy, turnaround time, customer service and cost management.
The Virginia Association of Health Plans can provide more information on managed health-care providers in Virginia. Visit the association’s Web site at http://www.vahp.org

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Fun perks
Many companies these days are offering employee perks that go beyond traditional benefits. These perks don’t always cost a lot of money, but can go a long way to help keep employees.
Perks you can offer include:

•Flexible schedules. Employees are demanding a better work-life balance. Parents will be especially pleased with flexible work schedules.
•Telecommuting. If your type of business allows, many workers are interested in telecommuting, even if it’s only allowed a day or two a week.
•Mentoring or training programs. Workers want professional development. Spend some time and money on work-force develop­­­­­­-ment programs to encourage
workers to grow at your company.
•Time off for volunteer work. Employees are conscientious and want to help others. Prove you’re dedicated to volunteer work by offering time off or by organizing community service projects through your business.


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