Economic talk these days has turned bleak, with discussions of economic downturn and rising unemployment rates. But it’s not all bad news.
There are still many businesses in the service, manufacturing and high-tech fields that are thriving. Rather than being forced to let employees go, these businesses are looking to hire — sometimes even poaching from competitors.
Retaining highly skilled workers has been a challenge of late, according to some of my clients, who have had their employees lured away by headhunters. Additionally, it is now easier than ever for employees to search for a new job with more lucrative offers during their workday; when working from home, there is no fear that the boss will look over your shoulder and see you looking at job postings. So how can business owners retain their top employees?
The go-to answer for many is a high salary offer, but that’s not always enough. This is where “executive design” comes in. To keep employees loyal, I suggest owners consult with experts to design benefits packages for employees who are key revenue producers.
In addition to competitive salaries, employees are looking for top-notch medical plans. It is no secret that excellent health plans can be exorbitantly priced, but the mistake made by many business owners and HR departments is that they don’t regularly review these plans. Plans and businesses change; the best fit five years ago may not be the best option today. I recommend speaking with an experienced professional and independent insurance provider, as navigating these waters alone can be challenging. An independent advisor will give you the best, unbiased advice and can help you provide excellent healthcare plans while saving money.
Another inducement to stay is offering select executive employees generous permanent life insurance packages — up to $5 million is available — that are designed with an eye to the pandemic, meaning with minimal, non-invasive underwriting, as long as the employee is actively at work.
Similarly, offering long-term care insurance will keep employees loyal by offering an oft-overlooked item. Due to underestimated usage and longevity, insurance companies raised long-term care insurance rates, prompting many to drop it. However, many employees are grateful for this benefit, which can be attached as a personally designed rider to new-generation hybrid life insurance programs.
Of course, disability insurance is vital. For those who plan ahead for rainy days, having a high salary but lackluster group disability insurance is a turnoff. For instance, say the group disability insurance plan pays $10,000 a month — for an employee ordinarily making $500,000 a year, that is just 24% of their salary. How is that person going to keep their home, car and more on only a fraction of their income? Group disability insurance plans like this cause “reverse discrimination,” in which select executive employees are discriminated against, not receiving more than 60% of their pay, as lower paid employees do. To prevent this, I suggest looking into supplemental plans with minimal underwriting.
Ultimately, there are two big mistakes people make when designing and purchasing benefits for themselves or their employees: working with a “captive” agent and viewing the plan as an ordinary product.
Captive agents are those aligned with certain insurance companies, which makes them biased. To get the best pricing and services, you should work with independent financial/insurance advisors, who are working to find the plan that works best for you. A multigenerational, seasoned professional is not just looking to make a quick commission. Rely on their experience and, in some cases, discounts. Client satisfaction and trust built on a long-term relationship is what professional firms live for.
When searching for an advisory firm, find one that is a principal of a producer group. Producer groups work with many different insurance companies and have the experience and clout to advise you regarding best strategies, designs, pricing and services. My colleagues and I are fortunate to be a member of the well-respected produce group M Financial Group, which is among the largest and oldest groups, but there are other competent producer groups out there too.
The second mistake people make is just looking at a product. Nowadays people are used to buying everything online. But insurance is not your average product. It is not like buying a television or a refrigerator, where you can review ratings and buy from whichever store offers the best price.
Insurance is a product that should be purchased with the guidance of an independent insurance professional who understands both your needs and the market. Insurance needs vary person to person, business to business. This was true before the pandemic and will be true when this plague finally leaves us.
Elliott Robinson CLU, ChFC, is the president of Robinson Financial Group, a three-generation insurance advisory firm.
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