Small Biz Bosses Lean on HR

February 6, 2002 ( - Even small business owners rely heavily on their human resources departments to make decisions regarding benefits programs, a new survey finds.

According to the Nationwide Financial Small Business Retirement Study, conducted by Greenwald & Associates, only 16% of small business owners reported that they make employee benefits decisions on their own.

In fact, for nearly every type of employee benefit listed in the survey from health insurance to a retirement plan, HR counsel was much more likely than the owner to say that the benefit was very important to employees.

More than 700 business owners and benefits representatives were surveyed, respondents included business with 25 to 200 employees.
Among the findings:

  • 48% of business owners are more likely to be motivated to offer a retirement plan with tax-deferred savings for themselves and key executives versus 39% of HR representatives
  • 63% of the HR representatives surveyed favored tax-deferred savings for employees versus 55% of owners
  • in general, HR representatives are more motivated by employee expectations, 31% versus 23% of owners 

The survey also found that business owners were less likely to understand the importance of investment options, tax-advantaged investing, Internet access to their account information, participant loan availability and brand name funds than their HR representatives.

Also, liability concerns ranked higher with business owners in planning retirement programs than with their HR representatives. Finally, HR representatives were more concerned with employee participation in benefits programs than were business owners.