Benefits in Focus » Succeed As Your Own Boss

Benefits in Focus » Succeed As Your Own Boss


metlife talent

Sponsored by MetLife. 


As we kick off 2024, you are likely spending time thinking about your company’s objectives and plans for the year ahead. What’s top of mind for you and your team?

Q1 serves as a strategic time to engage with your employees and proactively understand what’s changed over the past year. MetLife’s 2023 Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS) deep-dive into small business trends highlights the opportunity for small business owners to stand out this year by anticipating and adapting to employees’ ever-changing needs – all while improving business outcomes in stride.  

Before diving in, we of course can’t overlook the fact that last year presented unique challenges for businesses of all kinds, and especially for small businesses. Consider inflation costs, supply chain issues, rising interest rates, and more. In fact, according to the MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index for Q3’23, 86% of small business owners said that small businesses are the most vulnerable to rising interest rates. 


With mounting external pressures on small business leaders, their employees are feeling financial uncertainty as well and need support. According to the EBTS small business data, six in 10 small business employers agree that attracting and retaining talent are top business concerns. Employers must consider how they are incorporating employee needs into business decisions during the 2024 planning season and beyond.  

So, what does the research tell us about what top talent are asking their employers to do to better support them this year? Let’s take a look: 

Providing an array of benefits is one way to demonstrate care for employees and give your business a competitive edge against larger organizations. Indeed, research shows that workplace benefits programs can bolster employee happiness, satisfaction, and, ultimately, loyalty.

Furthermore, broadening wellness programs and benefits to include supplemental benefits specifically can serve as a value-add for a small business. Notably, 69% of employees said in MetLife’s 2021 EBTS that having their employer offer a wider array of non-medical benefits would make them more loyal. Today, the non-medical benefits that can help protect and keep small business employees engaged at work include:  


Many of us have experienced unexpected dental scenarios – such as cavities, root canals, wisdom teeth removals, etc. – which is why it would be comforting for your employees to know that they can access a network of dental care providers whenever they might need it. As dental expenses can often be costly, dental insurance is a great way to help employees find care that is suited to their unique needs; the result can lead to less employee stress and distractions at work.


Being underinsured can have a big impact on the financial stability of your employees and their loved ones. As highlighted in the 2021 EBTS, 86% of employees say finances are a top source of stress for them now and in the future, demonstrating why having financial protection is more important than ever before. Life insurance is one way to provide financial security for employees. According to 2023 EBTS data, 51% of small business employees are interested in life insurance, which can help support their families should the worst happen. 


  • Vision care insurance or discount program

Did you know that eye exams can detect early signs of disease, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more? This could be one of the many reasons why, according to the EBTS small business data, 61% of small business employees are interested in their employer providing vision care, which can protect their sight, as well as their comprehensive health.  


Short- and long-term disability can serve as an incredibly valuable tool should an employee be absent from work due to pregnancy, injury, surgery, or a chronic disability, to name a few potential scenarios. In particular, disability insurance can help provide peace of mind through financial protection and income continuation if an employee is unable to work. 48% of small business employees consider disability insurance a must-have, as noted in the 2023 EBTS.  


Access to counsel and legal representation during unexpected run-ins with the law or planned milestones can make a big difference in legal outcomes. Unbeknownst to many, legal services can be used for a broad range of situations, including getting married, buying a home, starting a family, and more. Due to an awareness gap, legal plans are often underutilized by U.S. employees; however, if you are going to provide legal services, be sure to educate your employees about this benefit and when it might be applicable to their lives.


While small businesses may not be able to provide “big business” benefits, especially during times of economic uncertainty, even small investments in benefits can make a big difference. Offering flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, wellness programs, mentorship and coaching, and offering parental leave, childcare assistance, or on-site daycare services can help expand current benefits offerings to not only surprise and delight employees but also to keep pace with what employees might get from working at larger organizations.


Attracting talent, retaining employees, and improving the well-being of everyone in the company are undoubtedly key areas of focus for small businesses. That said, taking the time to better understand what your workforce is interested in when it comes to their benefits has never been more important. Now is the time, as we start a new year, to gather feedback from your employees on what’s most valuable to them and make the necessary changes to ensure your business is positioned for future success. 


About the sponsor: 

The MetLife Small Business dedicated website has more information and resources for small business owners looking to find the right mix of benefits that can help attract and retain top talent. You can also connect with a small business expert or build a plan for your business that you and your employees can feel confident about. Find out how MetLife can help you achieve your business goals and offer the benefits employees want.