The Economy and Your Business

Business executives remain cautious given today’s economic climate. They are continuing to do more with less, operating lean, and demanding more from fewer employees.  The expression “a company’s employees are its greatest asset” is truer than ever. So what are companies doing to protect their greatest asset? For many, the emphasis is on the compensation and benefits package.  The latter, in particular, is of high value to employees who count on their employers to offer cost-effective health insurance, a sound retirement plan (such as a well-managed 401(k) plan) and other voluntary benefits that help them better manage their risks and protect their families.

While the healthcare reform debate continues and everyone awaits the Supreme Court’s decision in June, employers and employees alike are gravitating toward consumer-driven healthcare arrangements including high deductible health plans, health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement arrangements  (HRAs), and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). All of these plans give employees a financial incentive for more prudent healthcare consumption.  Beyond this, employers are offering ancillary healthcare benefits such as dental and vision, along with traditional life and short and long-term disability insurance. Often the ancillary benefits are presented as 100% employee-paid voluntary, but at a much lower group rate than an individual would be able to secure independently.

Employers are also offering their employees many quality-of-life type benefits. These range from credit union memberships and adoption assistance to scholarship programs, employee assistance programs (EAPs) that offer counseling to employees and their family members, and employee discount programs for things like mass transit, transportation, travel, entertainment and shopping. Employees also value wellness programs and health and fitness club membership discounts that not only encourage a healthy lifestyle but go a long way in containing healthcare costs for both the employer and employee.

Ultimately today’s American workers recognize the challenges the economy poses on everybody, including their employers. Many workers are happy to have jobs and are willing to carry a heavier load if they feel that their employers appreciate them. A well-developed employee benefits package conveys this message and encourages employee loyalty while promoting a higher level of productivity and performance – both critical in a challenging economy.

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