Finding Benefits $$ Getting Harder for Small Employers

July 13, 2009 ( - Some 62% of decisionmakers at small businesses are looking for insurance coverage cost-cutting avenues because of the increasing difficulty in paying for a robust workplace benefits package, a recent survey found.

A news release from Columbus, Georgia, insurance provider Aflac said companies that experienced a revenue decline over the past year are particularly pressured to reduce insurance costs, cut back on employee benefits and slash employee wages.

In fact, 69% of companies with reduced revenues are finding it more challenging to offer strong benefits packages, compared with companies whose revenues stayed the same (56%). Nearly half of decisionmakers (43%) say they are more likely to reduce employee benefits, with 65% admitting they are more aggressively looking for ways to trim benefit expenses.

Seventy-one percent of small businesses with staffs of 50 to 99 employees reported they are more aggressively looking for ways to reduce insurance costs, while that number fell to 56% for companies with 10 or fewer employees.

“Employers are concerned about losing employees to competitors with better benefits packages, even while they may be struggling to reduce costs and make ends meet,” said Paul S. Amos II, Aflac president and chief operating officer, in the news release. “It’s a cost-benefit balancing act.”

According to a separate Aflac consumer survey, 52% of workers are more concerned than a year ago about out-of-pocket medical expenses and 56% say an illness or injury would be a greater concern today than a year ago. Employees with young children are especially worried, with 60% reporting increased anxiety about illness or injury from one year ago.

The Aflac small business survey was conducted by Accelerant Research among a sample of 512 decisionmakers at U.S. small businesses with five to 99 employees and annual revenues of at least $100,000, via an online survey between March 9 and 12, 2009.

The Aflac consumer survey was conducted online by Accelerant Research between March 2 and 5, 2009, among a U.S. sample of 1,243 adults, aged 18 years and older.