As we move forward with health insurance reform small group plans with under 50 employees may be dropping health plans all together in 2014.  There is still going to be a need and desire for employee benefits. These future employee benefit packages are going to come in the form on non-medical benefits. This would Long Term Disability, Short term disability, Dental, Vision, Life and supplemental policies. Metlife came out with a study on how to keep your employee happy/loyal should you drop the group health plan. The purpose of these type of benefit packages is show the employee that the company is still investing in them.

According to MetLife’s 8th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends, 43% of all employees agree that benefits are a very important reason why they remain with their employers. This number drops to 31% for employees at smaller companies.

While healthcare legislation has grabbed the attention of small business owners and brokers, it is important to recognize that health coverage may become less of a differentiator when it comes to hiring, retaining and motivating workers. Non-medical benefits – like dental, disability, life insurance – and voluntary offerings will likely play an increasingly significant role in driving employee loyalty, retention and engagement.

Building a Better Benefits Program Without Breaking the Budget: Five Practical Steps Every Small Business Should Consider outlines steps that small business owners can take to strengthen their non-medical benefits program and optimize benefits value:

1. Manage costs for dental, disability and life insurance while increasing employee loyalty. Many small business owners underestimate the value that their employees place on non-medical benefits like dental, disability and life insurance. While 59% of small business employees say these benefits contribute to their feelings of employer loyalty, only 34% of employers recognize this. The resource outlines ways that employers can control their budgets while still offering benefits that drive loyalty.

2. Deliver budget-conscious wellness programs to aid productivity and help control medical costs. While 61% of larger employers offer wellness programs, just 22% of small companies offer the programs. However, 67% of small businesses believe wellness programs are effective at reducing medical costs. Low-cost options can be implemented by small businesses to help create a culture of health and control long-term costs. Options can include leveraging local health organizations and associations that can help to educate employees on healthy behaviors, or providing convenient access and time off to participate in wellness programs like weight loss, exercise and smoking cessation.

3. Help employees become financially secure and support productivity goals at the same time. About one in five small business employees admits that in the last 12 months, he/she has taken unexpected time off to deal with a financial problem or taken more time than should be spent at work to deal with personal financial issues. In fact, 64% of small businesses strongly believe that employees’ productivity is impacted when they are worried about personal financial matters. Small businesses can consider tapping into local financial institutions and services to provide retirement and/or financial planning options during work hours, or provide access to web-based financial resources for their employees.

4. Simplify benefits communications for greater benefits effectiveness. Only one in five small business employees believes that his/her employers’ benefits communications effectively educate the employee about their benefits programs. The resource gives best practices for benefits communication including using multiple channels, removing jargon, and making messages relevant to key life events or life stages. Employers can also beta test communications to listen and learn from their employees prior to launching a full communication campaign.

5. Leverage small business workplace advantages for increased worker loyalty. The MetLife Study found a loyalty gap in that nearly two-thirds of small businesses say they feel very loyal toward their employees but only about one-third of employees feel their employers have that strong sense of loyalty. Small business employers can take advantage of their company culture to foster an environment where work-life balance, which garners employee loyalty.