employee benefits

What Are The Best Resources for Researching Employee Benefits?

The Hartford

Are you confused about which benefits you should be offering your employees? You’re not alone. Given all the options to choose from these days, drawing up a benefits policy for your business can seem a tad overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure out everything by yourself. In episode #160, Gene Marks and Elizabeth Larkin provide
several resources that small business owners can consult when they are developing their employee benefits plan.

Executive Summary

7:09—Today’s Topic: Which Resources Will Give Me Information About Employee benefits?

7:49—Small business owners can begin their research by using Google to find independent articles that focus on this subject.

8:26—You can approach payroll companies to learn which benefits are in the most popular ones.

8:48—The Society for Human Resources Management site not only features their own articles about employee benefits, but it also provides information about HR conferences and events where they discuss recent employee benefit trends.

10:09—If you have ideas for drawing up your own original ideas for employee benefits, you can always reach out to HR consultants and professionals who have prior experience in these matters; you should also consider speaking to an HR attorney to make sure that you are legally protected when you draft these polices.

17:37—Gene encourages people to utilize more traditional methods of communication when reaching out to small businesses because the average owner is typically in their late 50’s or 60’s.


Submit Your Question


Elizabeth: Welcome back to the Small Biz Ahead podcast, this is Elizabeth Larkin from The Hartford, and I’m here with Gene Marks who is our small business expert, small business owner, small business-

Gene: CPA of small business.

Elizabeth: And Gene, I’m so happy to be back with you-

Gene: I know.

Elizabeth: Because you kicked me out of the podcast for the past several weeks.

Gene: Yeah, that’s exactly right, well we just had clearly more important people to speak to, right Elizabeth. Like, you were actually … just for all you guys who are listening, we had some conversations with some really great execs from The Hartford, and you were here Elizabeth, in the room-

Elizabeth: I was, I was sitting in the background making faces at you-

Gene: That’s right.

Elizabeth: The whole time.

Gene: Right, and then panicking and signaling when we were getting … when we were running over time.

Elizabeth: Yeah, you know what, it’s so funny because I listen to a lot of podcasts and-

Gene: As do I.

Elizabeth: Some of them have like three or four hosts on them.

Gene: Yeah.

Elizabeth: But the ones that I like the best usually just have two voices on them, so I figured if we were going to have guests on, and if they were going to be on for the entire episode, it would just be easier if there was just two of you.

Gene: Couldn’t agree any more. Yeah, actually like some of the podcasts that … Actually some of my favorites are like, you know Fresh Air with Terry Gross-

Elizabeth: Yeah-

Gene: Or Joe Rogan, others and it’s always just the interviewer and the interviewee-

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: Otherwise then everybody’s like kind of shouting to get attention.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: Or whatever, and it’s-

Elizabeth: So I decided to step back and let you take the limelight for a little while.

Gene: It worked! But we collaborated on the questions.

Elizabeth: Yeah, we definitely did.

Gene: So we knew what we were going to ask.

Elizabeth: So thank you to Steve Jones from The Hartford, Kathy Bromage from The Hartford-

Gene: Bromage.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: Right, keep mispronouncing everyone’s …

Elizabeth: You finally got her name right! That’s my bosses’, bosses’ boss, so!

Gene: Yeah, I know, oops!

Elizabeth: Gene’s like mispronouncing her name all the time.

Gene: It’s Bromage.

Elizabeth: So we’ve been talking before we had The Hartford executives on, we were talking a lot about employee benefits and what benefits really appeal to younger workers, I actually always argue that benefits that appeal to younger workers also appeal to older workers. I don’t know if you agree with me on that.

Gene: I disagree.

Elizabeth: I believe you’re wrong.

Gene: Well the reason why I disagree is because a lot benefits that are being … that a lot of companies are considering and implementing nowadays that are appealing to younger workers because they’re the workforce today, didn’t exist when the older workers were around. Perfect example is like, paid time off for new parents. You know, I mean there are some companies, Netflix for example, gives a year off for … paid time off-

Elizabeth: Okay, I think you just made my point though, that’s something that would, if older workers were having kids, that would also appeal to them.

Gene: Okay, so-

Elizabeth: They’re not specifically appealing to young people because only young people like that, like flexibility for instance. Older workers like that as much as younger workers.

Gene: Yeah but older workers aren’t having kids like younger workers-

Elizabeth: Yeah, I get that.

Gene: I’m telling you this from my clients, they have like arguments on the shop floor because they’re thinking of introducing up paid time off for new parents and then you got people who have been working in the company for 20 years, or just people that in their 50’s and their 60’s and they’re like we’re not new parents and we can’t take advantage of this benefit, this time off that you’re giving all these younger people, that’s not fair. That’s not fair and we don’t think that that should be a benefit.

Elizabeth: Yeah, but I would still argue that they would have taken advantage of that and like the benefit when they were in their 20’s and 30’s.

Gene: Yeah, yeah I think that’s a fair statement.

Elizabeth: So I’m right.

Gene: A lot of people get unhappy with new benefits that are geared towards younger workers because they didn’t get that when they were younger.

Elizabeth: Yes.

Gene: And they feel kind of gypped.

Elizabeth: But now everyone would like more flexibility in their job.

Gene: Everybody would.

Elizabeth: Everyone would like that, and a lot of the new benefits are around that. But today’s question is actually about, are there resources online that you can go and look up like what type of benefits should I be providing my employees, and we are going to answer that question after a word from our sponsor.

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This podcast is brought to you by The Hartford. When the unexpected strikes, The Hartford strikes back for over 1 million small business customers with property, liability and worker’s compensation insurance, check out The Hartford’s small business insurance at TheHartford.com.

QUESTION: What Are Some Resources Small Business Owners Could Look At For Current Employee Benefits?

Elizabeth: Okay, we’re back and today’s question is from-

Gene: I have to interrupt you, before we even get to that question, we were talking in the last segment about the benefits that you offer younger people-

Elizabeth: I knew that was going to happen! I got the last word, that’s not allowed to happen-

Gene: No! And the older people don’t like it or whatever, but there is the demographics are such that older people are staying on the job a lot longer, because we’re healthier and working longer and frankly, people don’t put enough money away for retirement. And so smart employers that I’ve seen, they’re not only looking at the younger workers like paid time off for new babies or whatever, but their older workers are just as important to keep happy.

Elizabeth: Oh yeah.

Gene: So what specific benefits can they be offering to older workers that would just appeal more to an older, you know, to that demographic.

Elizabeth: I don’t know, I mean that would really be more in your age range, right?

Gene: Yeah, really you know what, certain benefits is … I see companies providing, first of all just physical benefits, like knee pads and lower chairs and more comfortable things that maybe like the younger workers, they don’t really need or take advantage of. And then also paid time off.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: It’s like listen, we understand that you’re not new parents anymore-

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: You’re 60, but you’d like to spend time with your grandkids, so we will offer some additional time off-

Elizabeth: Or time by yourself, without having to listen to your boss.

Gene: Sure. Or you’ve earned … you’ve worked for 35 years and you want to take some extra time off to play some golf or whatever-

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: So I guess my point is, is that one benefit isn’t going to please everybody.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: So you have to tailor your benefits to the differing demographics of your business and say okay, we’re not offering you guys this type of a benefit because you’re older, but we are offering you that type.

Elizabeth: Yeah, maybe an extra five days off every other year, because you know people don’t have kids every year, so.

Gene: Yeah, yeah concierge medical services for example or something that’s just you know, or something health and wellness.

Elizabeth: You know what Gene, why not … let’s do a whole episode on what benefits would appeal to-

Gene: Old people.

Elizabeth: People.

Gene: That’s me.

Elizabeth: And you know what, and then there’s benefits for younger people-

Gene: Right.

Elizabeth: Like people under 30, there’s benefits for people over-

Gene: You’ve got to hit-

Elizabeth: And then of course there’s the people in the middle like me, and no one really cares.

Gene: No one really cares about you guys right now, you guys just … But you know it’s like the world is becoming a very you know, everything’s broken down to the specifics, you know what I mean and now suddenly you have to look at your workers and just this one benefit, you know fits all just doesn’t do it. Biggest benefit you can provide for older people, instead of … you know how you put those bowls of candy out, you know of like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or M&M’s-

Elizabeth: Oh my God, this is going to be so [crosstalk]

Gene: Just add bowls of Advil. I think that’s my … Anyway let’s get onto our question. We digressed and I apologize.

Elizabeth: So this question is from Amy from Laguna, Nigel, I think that’s how you pronounce it-

Gene: California.

Elizabeth: California. Did I say that right?

Gene: I don’t know, I really don’t know if I could pronounce Nigel, but I know it’s near Laguna Beach, I’m assuming.

Elizabeth: Probably. And her question is can you give suggestions on resources for current employee benefits. So she’s looking to really research, like what, where can I go to find out what benefits are out there? Maybe she’s trying to attract some new employees or she’s trying to retain employees, and she wants to offer some new benefits.

Gene: Sure.

Elizabeth: Where would she go to research that?

Gene: So a couple places that I use … So I actually, I actually do this presentation about attracting and motivating employees or whatever and when I have to prep before I do it because it changes so much, I go to a few different places I can share. First of all, I don’t mean to kind of just punt on this part, but I do Google it, right, you know top benefits, you know, hot benefits for 2019, you know that kind of thing. If you do this kind of Google searches, you will get lots of just independent articles written on a lot of different sites from Small Biz Ahead to you know other small business platforms where people will write and do the research for you. That’s number one.

The big payroll companies are really good to go to to get information about hot benefits and good benefits to offers, so Paychex is a fantastic place, great company, ADP is their number one competitor, those two alone have lots of content on their site where you can go and find out about benefits. And then also … because I had to like, just double check you know, who these guys are because I go there a lot. The Society of Human Resource Management-

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: Had their own … they basically are the association, professional group for HR people and there’s a few things you can get out of going to The Society of Human Resource Management site. Number one is that they do have their own … they have lots of organic content on benefits and people management matters or whatever, but in addition to that, they do their own conferences and they also participate in other people’s conferences and there’s an events area to their site. And if you see what conferences they’re doing, and what conferences they’re participating in, you can go to those conference websites and you’ll see all the hot new HR topics that are being talked about at these conferences, which should certainly keep you up to speed.

So, in summary, organic places, just Google search hot benefits, 2019, top benefits that kind of thing. You’ll go and you’ll see a lot of independent articles all around that are written about that. The big payroll companies, ADP and Paychex are the two leading ones, they’ve got lots of great content, and then finally The Society of Human Resource Management is a great place to go not only for content, but also to link to different events and conferences that are doing HR stuff that will have content, you know information about that.

Elizabeth: Now what if you want to make up your own, I guess it wouldn’t be a benefit, more of like a perk. You’re thinking like, you know what I would like to do something for those older workers who didn’t get maternity leave or paternity leave when they were in their 20’s or 30’s. And I want to do like a sabbatical program, or something like that, would you go to an attorney to talk about that?

Gene: No, what I would … there’s a couple different places I would go. First of all, again you know, without sounding like I’m bailing on us, if you Google about that perk itself, you will find lots of content out there that can at least give you background information-

Elizabeth: Yeah but what if I don’t want to read, I just want to talk to someone about the-

Gene: Right, then you want to find an HR professional, not necessarily an attorney, so you want to go on LinkedIn or you want to go to you know a career site that you can hire somebody on a contracting basis that has HR experience that can consult with you on the ins and the outs of the plan that you might be considering. I have some clients that bring in HR consultants and again, you can find them on job sites as contractors, you can find them by Googling them or going to Craigslist, for example and bringing them in on a consulting basis, and take a look at the benefits that we’re offering, are these good are these not good? The attorneys, there’s some good HR attorneys are great for protecting you and making sure that when they draft up the policies and contracts and all that, that they’re doing it in such a way that you know, you’re being protected.

But I’ve found attorneys to not be the most innovative people in the world when the times come to come up with benefits.

Elizabeth: Well you just insulted half of our listenership-

Gene: Oh, I’m sorry but listen, I’m a CPA, so we’re even less innovative. You want people that are experienced in HR, so you want an HR consultant to work with you. And this being America and 2019, Elizabeth, there’s tons of HR consultants out there, because there’s tons of everything out there.

Elizabeth: Okay, we’ll be right back with Gene’s word of brilliance, stay tuned.


Gene: And we’re back and this is Gene Marks and I’ve got a word of brilliance for you, actually it’s two words, and those two words of brilliance are this: old people. And the reason why I say that, and I recently wrote about this somewhere else, but it was a study that just came out that looked at thousands of small business owners around the country, and found that the average age of a U.S. small business owner is about 52 years old and almost 60% of current U.S. small business owners … these are people running companies with less 100 employees, they’re baby boomers. They were born between the years of 1946 and 1964.

And the reason why I bring that up is because sometimes when you’re marketing and you’re looking at your demographics and you’re trying to figure out where your customers are, if your customers are small businesses, a lot of times people are looking in the wrong place. Unfortunately the media sometimes you know tells us that all small businesses are located in Silicon Valley or they’re in some hot place they’re working on some start up somewhere with some innovative tech creator from Stanford, and that’s not really the case.

Small businesses in America in 2019 are old people, or older people. We are again, a generation that are in our 50’s and I think will continue to move into our 60’s and still run our businesses while we can because we’re able to live longer and operate our businesses for a longer period of time. And I just think it’s smart and important to remember that if you are selling to other small businesses, or if you are in that environment, just remember that the vast majority of small business owners are not young kids and they’re not even people in their 30’s, these are people that are baby boomers, these are people that are in their late 50’s and 60’s and you want to target your marketing and your demographics to find them there.

They’re not necessarily on Twitter or Facebook, they’re probably at their industry association conference or somewhere else that people of a certain different generation might be, and maybe again, they might you know, direct mail might resonate with them over email. Social media might not be their thing, these are people like me that still read the paper for example, or respond to telephone calls. So just bear that in mind if you’re selling to small businesses, most of us are old people. That’s my word of the day.

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