5 Reasons You Can’t Afford Not to Offer Employee Health Benefits

health-benefits-1 When it comes to compensation, today’s employees look for a lot more than just a salary. The best candidates also look for employers who can offer competitive benefits like retirement planning, sick days and vacation days. But there’s one benefit employees want more than any other — health insurance. According to a new report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), 78 percent of employees in 2013 said health insurance coverage was the most important benefit an employer can offer.

It’s no surprise employees feel this way. Health care costs keep going up and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means those who don’t receive health coverage at work will have to get it elsewhere. Soon, many employers will be required to provide coverage. Some employers may hesitate to assume the additional costs and liability associated with offering health benefits to their employees. But in today’s economy, you need to offer these benefits in order to keep your competitive edge.

Attract the Most Desirable Employees

The job market is more competitive than ever. Today’s employees are holding out for positions with employers who offer attractive benefits. Many candidates — especially the most qualified, desirable ones — will pass up job offers altogether if they don’t include a comprehensive benefits package that includes health coverage.

As health care costs continue to go up, candidates will increasingly seek out employers that offer health coverage benefits. According to the EBRI, these benefits are vastly more valued than retirement or even time off; only 37 percent of employees surveyed in 2013 said that retirement benefits were more important, and only 26 percent valued paid time off more.

Keep Your Employees Longer

Employees who have good benefits are loyal employees. But if employees are leaving because they aren’t happy with the benefits you offer, you can count on their replacements leaving sooner, too. In fact, your employees may just be using your company as a way station on the road to positions with better benefits.

The costs of recruiting and training new employees can be phenomenal; it can cost 16 to 20 percent of an employee’s annual salary to replace that employee. In the long run, it’s cheaper to pay for the benefits — then you can keep your best employees with the company and save the costs of recruiting and training replacements.

Boost Productivity and Morale

health-benefits-2When your employees are happy and know that you care about them as people, they work harder. Offering competitive benefits is the best way to show your employees that you care. When your employees know that they owe their good health to you, they’ll work much harder than they would without the incentive offered by benefits.

Comply with New Federal Regulations

Soon, most employers will need to comply with the ACA by offering health benefits. If you offer benefits ahead of the deadline, you won’t have to rush to comply at the last minute.

Employers with at least 50 full time employees or the equivalent of 50 full-time employees will need to begin offering health benefits in 2015. But even if your company is too small to fall into this category, health care reform means that you can now get tax credits for offering your employees health benefits. This means you can enhance the value of your employees’ benefits packages at a lower cost to yourself.

Keep Your Employees Healthy

Employees who won’t have health insurance coverage are more likely to skip wellness visits and other preventive care. They’ll also delay going to the doctor as long as possible when they do get sick, because they may not be able to afford to pay for health care out-of-pocket. Employees who lack basic health coverage miss more days of work due to illness and are often forced to take extended leaves of absence or quit working altogether because they got sick.

When you offer health care benefits, your employees will be able to afford preventive care and get medical care promptly when they need it. They’ll be healthier all around and have fewer serious or chronic illnesses. That means they’ll be able to work harder and miss fewer days.

Today’s competitive job market, combined with rising health care costs, mean that most employees look for health benefits first and foremost when seeking a new position. Offer your employees the benefits they need and want, and you’ll be rewarded with more loyalty, harder work and a happier, more productive workplace culture.

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