Colonial Life: Small businesses can offer big benefitsNews added by Benefits Pro on May 15, 2014

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By Lisa Barron

Employees of small businesses are less likely to have the types of benefits enjoyed by employees in large companies, but small employers can offer large benefits, according to a white paper from Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co.

“Small Business: Big Benefits” looks at some of the many familiar issues facing employers at companies with fewer than 100 employees, such as the rising cost of insurance, health care reform and recruitment.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy,” said Rich Williams, senior vice president, growth markets, at Colonial Life. “Our research shows the concerns of their employees aren’t that much different than larger firms when it comes to personal finances. Employees in companies of all sizes tend to worry about having enough savings to retire, to cover an emergency or to cover being out from work if they’re injured or sick.”

An online survey of more than 1,000 full-time and/or part-time employees conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Colonial Life found that 50 percent are concerned about not having enough savings to retire as planned, 39 percent are concerned about not having enough savings to cover an emergency or a period of being unable to work, 33 percent are concerned about losing their job, and 32 percent are concerned about not being able to afford medical costs not covered by their health insurance.

“Small employers value their workers and want to provide good benefits that address their individual needs. Yet today’s economy and a changing regulatory environment make them hesitant to add new benefits,” said Williams.

“But small employers do have options,” he said, noting that voluntary, employee-paid benefits give small businesses a way to offer a more competitive benefits package “without impacting their bottom line.”

Indeed, the Colonial Life Poll found that employees in small businesses are interested in buying additional insurance benefits through their employers. Forty-nine percent showed interest in life insurance, 46 percent in short-term disability insurance, 40 percent in critical illness insurance and in accident insurance, and 21 percent in cancer insurance.

Although small employers may not have a staff member who can educate employees and manage benefits enrollments, they can work with vendors that provide complimentary counseling as part of their services, said Williams.

The online survey was conducted among 2,048 adults ages 18 and older from March 28-April 1.

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