How Important Are Benefits? Ask me, I’m 23!

Posted on September 26, 2011 by Larry Smalheiser in Benefits

By Kelly Kramer, of TriNet’s Public Relations team, Trainer Communications

Common wisdom tells us that small business owners understand the importance of offering competitive benefits packages. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal guide on “How to Retain Employees” advises business owners that “Providing health insurance, life insurance and a retirement-savings plan is essential in retaining employees.” If you are a business owner offering competitive benefits packages, you likely understand their influence on retention and recruiting. They are important for other reasons as well. If you’ve ever wondered how they look from the other side of the employee-manager relationship, here’s my view as an employee of a small business owner:

If you had asked me two years ago how important benefits are, I would have said they are a perk, but certainly not a deal-breaker when considering a job. Today, I’ve changed my tune.

My graduation from college in May 2010 meant that I was no longer eligible for coverage under my parents’ health insurance plan. Fortunately, I was soon hired by a company offering complete benefits, so I didn’t need to risk living without insurance or researching the costs of purchasing a plan independently. Some of my peers weren’t so lucky.

Many of my fellow graduating classmates didn’t find employment, and spent four harrowing months without health insurance until September 2010, when the ‘young adults’ portion of the  Affordable Care Act went into effect. This reform measure extended the age an adult child can stay on their parents’ health insurance coverage to 26. Many of my unemployed peers found themselves re-seeking coverage under their parents’ health insurance plans. Though they are happy to no longer risk their well-being by not having coverage, many also have mixed feelings about remaining dependent on their parents. Some share that they are embarrassed they must still depend on their parents. They’ve studied abroad, passed the LSAT exams and lived on their own, yet cannot provide themselves with their own health coverage.

Those of us fortunate enough to have employers offering comprehensive benefits must share an extra sense of loyalty to our employers. For many of us, it is a sign of independence to say that we can stand on our own. Our employers aren’t just providing us with “perks.” They are helping us to be the grown-ups we imagined we’d be—taking care of our own well-being without help from our parents.

Offering benefits like health insurance can be a very strategic recruiting and retention tool. Though my story highlights how younger adults view these benefits as a means to gaining independence, benefits are an incentive for all ages. After all, parents want jobs with comprehensive benefits to cover their whole family, including those 20-something children of theirs who have come back under their insurance umbrella.

To learn more about offering competitive benefits, please check out this PDF.