by Bill Higgins and Tiffany Finnegan
In major cities throughout the country, the manufacturing industry is booming. With global demand for American products on the rise as well as emphasis on encouraging more American manufacturing, this manufacturing boost will only continue to increase the competition for employees. Combine that with a low unemployment rate and industry employees have the luxury of being choosy about the company they decide to work for.
While a healthy salary and an appealing work environment can go a long way toward swaying top talent to “sign on the dotted line,” the strength of an attractive benefits package should not be overlooked. In fact, a strong benefits program may be the deciding factor between that prime candidate choosing between your company and the competition.
That said, knowing how to select a benefits plan that will attract and retain employees at a price that your company can afford requires due diligence. Here is where a trusted benefits advisor can help you evaluate, select and implement a program from the get go.
All too often, business owners attempt to do the proper research to select a benefits plan on their own, only to discover there is much more to know than a handful of online articles can provide. Of course, it’s always a good idea to have some background knowledge, but the selection of the proper benefits plan for your specific business is best placed in the hands of a benefits broker – one who is well-vetted, has proven success and shows a genuine interest in your business.
Take the time to find a broker who is willing to put in the effort necessary to learn about your company, how it differs from others in the manufacturing industry, and above all, is committed to entering into a trusted business partnership with you. Don’t just assume that rates have gone up and you are at the mercy of carriers; there are many brokers whose experience and approach can reduce benefits costs significantly and may even deliver better benefits to your employees than those received previously.
What must also be taken into consideration when deliberating a benefits plan is your business strategy, keeping in mind that it may change as time goes by. Aspects to be mindful of include whether your company might go national and the demographics of your employees. Perhaps of most importance is whether it makes more sense to offer top shelf benefits or more standards benefits offset by a larger salary. And word to the wise – if your business is poised for considerable growth in the future, be sure to select a benefits advisor who has the capability of providing the guidance and information required to accommodate that growth. A benefits program for 30 employees is one thing, but one for 100 can be a whole other situation.
Benchmarking benefits should not be overlooked, particularly in the current competitive employment market. Comparing your benefits offerings to industry bests and practices of other nearby companies in the manufacturing industry can be a real eye-opener. Take the time to do some research (often a little online sleuthing will do the trick) and see what your direct competition offers; this will let you know if your benefits program is competitive or way off scale in one direction or the other. Adjusting your benefits program based on this knowledge may give you a leg up in attracting top-notch employees.
Additionally, manufacturing companies should take advantage of the many benefits packages that offer embedded technology – this allows for ease of communications, enrollment, change requests, etc. This often overlooked technology typically comes at no added cost, but it could prove valuable to employees in terms of added convenience.
Finally, it’s important to look “outside the box” when selecting a benefits provider. Sure, there are any number of large firms with easily recognizable names and big advertising budgets, but with a little extra research you may locate a firm that offers a similar menu of wide-ranging options…and will take the time to customize a package with your company’s and employees’ specific needs in mind.
With the guidance and support of a benefits expert who has genuine interest in your business, you can rest easy knowing that the benefits program selected will complement your company’s strengths and position you as a standout in the competitive employee market.
Bill Higgins is president and Tiffany Finnegan is director of benefits at Full Spectrum Benefits (based in Hingham, Mass.), which offers proactive, strategic solutions for companies providing benefits programs to their employees. For more information, please visit www.fullspectrumbenefits.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.