Happy Tax Day!
Especially small businesses. Where would we be without you?
Without a job.
Without basic public functions.
Without charity organizations that are largely funded by small business contributions.
The list is endless.
Out of our economy, small business (defined as 500 employees or less) make up 99.7% of companies in the United States. In the private sector they make up 49.2% of employment, 42.9% of payroll, and 46% of output. 60 million people are employed by firms with less than 100 employees. Suffice to say they are really important to the economy.
Much of the pain and frustration surrounding this economic engine is focused on the people they employ. Whether it be they can’t find enough people, get the people they have to engage, retaining the quality people they have, or affording the things they need to offer to keep their people from moving from their small business to a bigger business, who can afford to give them more in the form of salary and benefits.
It’s heartbreaking to hear that many small businesses have just given up. In conversations I have had with chamber of commerce reps and small business owners, many have taken the approach of hiring as many people as they can, hoping to keep just a few, leveraging the law of large numbers to fill their staffing needs.
Here is the problem with that, it’s an expensive way to operate the HR operation of your business and you lose connection with the people who are working for you. Which, perpetuates the negative feedback loop of disengagement, poor production, and again, high turnover.
The biggest misconception is that smaller employer don’t have the HR and benefit options available to them that bigger organizations do. I call BS on that. Small employers have as many, if not more options available to them to offer just as good of an HR and benefits program as the bigger players, plus they can do it more a much more personal and human touch. There is a literal alphabet soup of options that can be looked at as options for small business health plans, courtesy of the IRS, from MERP’s, QSEHRA’s, HRA’s, FSA’s, MEC’s, ICHRA’s (2020), that pair with insurance and medical cost sharing models that allow smaller organizations to offer at least what their larger competitors for talent can offer. They just have to do it differently.
HR and administrative technology are available to any size business giving fortune 500 level HR experiences to employers with 5 employees, so there shouldn’t be any excuse that it is “too difficult to manage.
So what has led to this misconception from small business owners?
Well, from an advisor perspective, let’s not kid ourselves, everyone wants to work with the big firms. That is not unique, as I’m sure the smaller employers discussed here also would like those larger accounts for the product or service they market.
Either due to the financial incentives offered, ego, or through strategic objectives of their own firms, many advisors, brokers consultants have minimum group sizes. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “I don’t touch anything below 50 (or pick the number) employee lives.” As a consequence, a lot of talent and expertise is left unused by those who might need it the most.
We have committed not to ignore this hugely important component of our communities and economy. We value small business for what they do and the contributions they make. Are we always on the lookout for all opportunities to help people in their personnel needs? Of course. But we will not ignore the impact that can be made at the start up, small family operation, or strategically small organizations that have unique HR and benefit needs.