Some of the most valued employee benefits are low cost or free to the practice, according to practice management consultant Carol Stryker — for instance, supplemental insurance such as AFLAC, and, depending on your location, credit union membership.
Offering a flexible schedule to, say, parents who need to pick up children from daycare or Little League practice is of no cost to practices, yet it is highly valued by staff. Stryker cautions that of course the needs of the practice should be met first, "but, it means that you really make a conscious effort to accommodate somebody's schedule," she says.
Another popular benefit, adds Daniel Bernick, a principal at the Health Care Group (HCG), is life insurance. A group term life insurance policy is relatively inexpensive for the practice, and the cost of the first $50,000 is tax free to the employee. "It is not a W2 item if you are under the $50,000 threshold. Group term life insurance is generally 100 percent employer paid," he says, and tax deductible for the practice.
Another important component of a benefit package is a retirement plan. According to HCG's Staff Salary Survey, 58 percent of practices say they offer a retirement plan to employees. Bernick says because a 401K retirement plan is largely paid by the employee, it is a crowd pleaser that doesn't cost the practice a lot of money.
Remember, when putting together a benefit package on a budget, it should be customized to both your practice and staff. In addition to paid time off and a health plan, the following list should give you a good place to start, but is by no means exhaustive — feel free to get creative.
No cost to practice
• Flex time
• AFLAC supplemental insurance
• Credit union membership
Low cost to practice
• Group term life insurance
• 401K retirement plan
• Continuing education