Small biz workers getting short end of benefits stick

Small biz workers getting short end of benefits stick

healthform-crop-600x338Does working for a small company mean receiving small benefits? Apparently so, according to the 2014 U.S. Worker Survey, conducted last December on behalf of Colonial Life and Unum.

Only 44 percent of employees at very small businesses (fewer than 10 employees) have benefits at work, compared with 82 percent of all employees. Companies that are only slightly larger, with between 10 and 99 employees, do much better, with 75 percent offering benefits.

Perhaps the worst news for small employers is that their workers know they are getting the short end of the stick.

  • Benefits package. Only 25 percent of employees at very small companies who are offered benefits rate their benefits as excellent or very good, compared with 58 percent of employees at large companies.
  • Benefits understanding. Sixty-two percent of employees at very small companies who are offered benefits report a good understanding of their benefits, well below the 80 percent reported by workers at large firms.
  • Value of benefits. Fifty-five percent of very small business workers who are offered benefits agree they highly value the insurance benefits provided by their employer, compared to 70 percent at large firms.

The risks are obvious, with disgruntled employees looking for the exit to find a job with better benefits. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, said Gil Youmans, director of small market solutions for Colonial Life.

“It might be easy to assume smaller employers can’t afford to offer rich benefits programs and provide comprehensive education and enrollment support, but that’s not the case at all,” he said “Small employers can gain access to most of the same benefits and support services as larger employers at no cost to their business. One way to do this is by partnering with a voluntary benefits provider that offers benefits education and enrollment support at no additional direct cost as part of its services.”

The 2014 U.S. Worker Survey compiled the opinions of more than 1,500 workers on a variety of workplace, benefits and financial topics. It is conducted annually by an independent national research firm for Colonial Life and Unum.