Jessica Moser is senior vice president and leader of Small Business Solutions in MetLife’s Group Benefits business. She oversees sales, strategy, underwriting, and overall P&L for businesses under 100 employees.
MetLife – For additional resources on how to get a leg up in the ongoing war for talent, check out Jessica’s website!
NAPEO – For your HR needs
3 Value Bombs
1) In a small business, bringing the wrong person on is almost worse than having nobody.
2) Highlight that people can also get competitive salary and benefits. But really, first and foremost, highlight the values that you have as a small business owner – that you can value your employees potentially in a way that a larger company can’t.
3) There are people who will take a lower paying job to work in a company that shares their values.
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**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: How to get a leg up in the ongoing war for talent.
[01:04] – Jessica shares something interesting about herself that most people don’t know.
- She writes poetry and is actually published!
[01:57] – Are there a lot of business owners searching for new hires right now?
- We’ve got 28 million small businesses that play a pivotal role in our economy.
- Unemployment in the country is at its lowest, and it’s really hard to find qualified workers.
- 29 percent of small business owners plan to hire in 2019.
[02:50] – Are these small business owners having success finding the right people?
- Lots are having a hard time finding quality candidates.
- In a small business, bringing the wrong person on is almost worse than having nobody.
[03:55] – How can those small business owners attract qualified candidates, hire, and retain them?
- Job seekers prefer to work in small businesses because they have access to leadership, they have more involvement in running the business where they can see the impact of their work, and they like the family feel.
- Highlight that people can also get competitive salary and benefits – but really, first and foremost, highlight the values that you have as a small business owner and that you can value your employees potentially in a way that a larger company can’t.
[05:17] – Jessica talks about benefits.
- Benefits really are a great way to attract and retain employees.
- There are ways to put together a benefits package that doesn’t cost you anything as a business owner.
- The easiest way to know which benefits you can give to employees without any added cost is to find somebody who is a professional in benefits.
- If you find a broker who understands small businesses, you can use their expertise.
- You can find brokers through working with your Chamber of Commerce, or find an association of business owners and have someone you can trust help.
- You may also take advantage of LinkedIn connections.
[09:23] – Jessica talks about highlighting desirable workplace culture.
- As a small business owner, you know why you went into business.
- If you lead with your values, it becomes very clear who you want, and also who wants to be on that journey with you. This makes the firm a great place to work for the right people.
- There are people who will take a lower paying job to work in a company that shares their values.
- If you can find ways to make your employees feel valued, then you are driving engagement and loyalty.
[14:01] – How can adding benefits beyond medical really boost employee productivity and loyalty?
- You have to make sure that you understand what it is that you’re providing, because if you’re providing something that they’re not valuing, then you’ll be frustrated and your employees will be frustrated as well.
- You want to make sure that what you’re giving is resonating.
[16:46] – How do we find the right mix of benefits to keep employees satisfied?
- Make sure that you’re listening to your employees.
- Make sure that you’re understanding where the gaps are.
- Match the benefits to the life stages.
- Take a step back and figure out what is it that makes sense, and what is it that you want to be providing.
[20:09] – 5 tips that small business owners should keep in mind as they assess their benefits plan.
- Communication is critical—it is not enough that you understand the benefits package… your employees should understand it, too. You need to communicate in a way that’s clear and simple.
- Find the gaps—high deductible health plans are very common in today’s world. The concept of voluntary benefits help employees manage the out-of-pocket cost and reduce the risk.
- Listen to your employees—know what your employees are looking for. If you can get underneath what their needs are, you’re going to be able to figure out a way to make your employees feel valued.
- Choices, choices—in the face of having too many choices, people just choose not to.
- Streamline—it makes sense to put the many benefits you want with one carrier. Often, the products are designed to work together like bundles. It saves you, the employer, time and it also saves your employees time because it’s streamlined together.
[24:50] – Jessica’s parting piece of guidance
- Your values lead with your values. This is your passion. This is what makes you.
- Make your employees feel valued.
- MetLife – For additional resources on how to get a leg up in the ongoing war for talent, check out Jessica’s website!
JLD: What’s shaking, Fire Nation. JLD here with audio master class on how a desirable workplace culture and competitive benefits will give small business owners a leg up in the ongoing war for talent. And Fire Nation I have brought Jessica Moser on to talk about this because she is the Senior Vice President and leader of Small Business Solutions in MetLife’s Group Benefits business.
She oversees sales, strategy, underwriting and overall P&L for businesses under 100 employees. And we’ll be talking about a lot of things that small business owners need to know to have a successful workplace environment, Fire Nation. As soon as we get back from thanking our sponsor.
Jessica say what’s up to Fire Nation and share something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.
Jessica: What is up Fire Nation. I’m so excited to be here. And what many people don’t know is that I write poetry and I’ve actually been published.
JLD: Very cool. Well, I’m not gonna put you on the spot here but maybe it’ll come up later Jessica and let’s just go with it.
Jessica: It will definitely not come up.
JLD: You know, it might not come up Fire Nation because today’s master class is on this, how a desirable workplace culture and competitive benefits gives small business owners a leg up in this ongoing war for talent. And this is a war Fire Nation, so you are gonna want to take out a pen and a pad of paper and take some notes because we’re gonna give you everything you need to be armed and dangerous here.
So, let’s just dive right in Jessica because, again, we have a lot to get to today and are there a lot of small business owners right now searching for new hires?
Jessica: Yes, actually. I mean we’ve got 28 million small businesses; they’re obviously playing a pivotal role in the economy and our community. Unemployment in this country is low, it’s as low as it’s been for 50 years and it’s really hard to find qualified workers. At 29% of small business owners an index that we do with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, say they plan to hire in 2019. So, that’s good but that slow growth that we’re living in right now is really putting a strain on the small businesses finding the right people.
JLD: So, that was gonna kinda lead into my next question which is, are these small business owners having success finding the right people? Are they winning this talent war?
Jessica: I think it varies. They’re looking for sure. Lots are trying to hire. They’re having a hard time finding quality candidates. So, just 9% of small business owners say that the recruits they’re talking to are very good, 34% say good, so the majority say the quality of job recruits is fair or poor. And so, some are hiring, but a lot are struggling because they’ve gotta figure out, because especially in a small business, bringing the wrong person on is almost worse than having nobody. I think there’s a lot of people are still looking.
JLD: So, let’s look at this from the small owner’s perspective and, of course, this is gonna benefit Fire Nation, the other side of the realm as well, which are those individuals and employees, but how can those small business owners attract qualified candidates and not just attract them, but hire and retain them. What are some things that they can be knowing and looking and doing?
Jessica: This is actually pretty cool because Zip Recruiter came out with a survey last year, I think, that said 64, now I’m talking to the Fire Nation small business owners, 64% of job seekers actually are looking, would prefer to work for a small or mid-size company versus a larger one. And what’s really cool is why, right? They have access to leadership, they have more involvement in running the business, right? They can see the impact of their work and they like the family feel.
And so, with small businesses armed with that information, that’s the kind of thing that you want to highlight, right? You want to be able to say this is what you can get. You can also get obviously competitive salary, there’s also benefits and I’m happy to go into that, but really first and foremost it’s highlighting the values that you have as a small business owner and that you can value your employees potentially in a way that a larger company can’t.
JLD: So, you mentioned getting into benefits. Let’s do that a little bit because I’m curious, I think Fire Nation might be as well.
Jessica: Benefits really are a great and effective way of attracting and retaining employees because they really are a way of showing your employees that you value them because you don’t have to do it, right? But if you do, it’s not something that goes unnoticed. Eight-one percent of employees who are satisfied with their benefits are satisfied with their jobs.
Yeah, it’s huge right? And it doesn’t only have to be healthcare. It doesn’t only have to be medical. It can be life insurance, dental insurance, vision, disability; these are available to employees employers that have two employees or more. And I know a lot of people when they hear that they go, “That’s awesome, but I can’t afford it.” But, in fact, there are ways to put together a benefits package that doesn’t actually cost you as a business owner anything.
We have what we call voluntary benefits, maybe a legal service plan that pays for legal expenses like if you wanted to refinance or your employees wanted to refinance or will preparation or even a speeding ticket without any out-of-pocket costs to the employer but provides access to those benefits that to the employees that they couldn’t get on their own as individuals and really make you competitive with those larger companies.
JLD: So, that phrase, without any added costs to the employer, I know a lot of people’s ears pricked up there because they’re like, “Okay, how can I give of all these great benefits to my employees,” or the employees, of course, are saying, “How can I let my employer know that he or she can do this without any added cost.” Talk a little bit about that. Like what would that next step be if they’re like, “Okay this sounds obviously exciting and cool, what do we do?”
Jessica: So, I think the easiest answer really is to find somebody who is professional in benefits like a broker or a consultant because these are the people who understand what a – now, you can do it on your own. Let me be really clear about that, but in my experience if you find a broker who understands small businesses, you can use their expertise, right? Outsource it to their expertise so that they can figure out what’s the right package for your employees because it’s gonna vary and depending on who you have working in your company, you’re gonna want to provide different plans or even maybe even different benefits.
So, understanding who you’ve got in your world and then working with a professional to say, how can I best match those needs, that’s I think probably the magic equation right there.
JLD: So, if you were in that situation, you’re an employer and you wanted to add these benefits and you wanted to find that professional, what would your first step be? Where would you go specifically?
Jessica: There’s lot of different places you can go to find a broker, you can work with your chamber of commerce. I mean I think there’s lots of different ways. I think most common, of course, is to find one of your – an association of business owners and find someone that you can trust with a recommendation but really in terms of, it’s as much about experience as it is about chemistry.
JLD: What about LinkedIn connections, you’re like, oh because you can really connect the dots Fire Nation. You’re like, “Oh, I really know I can trust this person and they’re connected with a business broker, let me see if they can recommend them,” because then you have that word of mouth referral. Does that make sense?
Jessica: Totally. That’s exactly right.
JLD: Cool. Let’s talk a little bit about highlighting desirable workplace culture that’s gonna give small business owners a leg up in this ongoing war. So, we talked a little bit about benefits, now let’s talk about culture. Can you speak to that?
Jessica: When people think about small businesses, they don’t – you hear a lot about big businesses and culture. But from an entrepeaurial perspective and a small business perspective, I really think that there is a true leg up there because you, as a small business owner, you know why you went into business. And, by the way, kudos to every single one of the Fire Nation listeners who are doing this, right? It’s one thing to have an idea or a dream, like that’s really hard to even put into words and then to take that left brain idea and use your right brain to execute on it, like I have the utmost respect.
So, I give 100% credit. And whatever story it is that brought you there to where you are right now as an owner, as an entrepreneur, as somebody who’s making it happen, that is what you want to lead with. If you lead with your values, it becomes very clear who you want and who frankly wants to be on that journey with you and that makes your firm a great place to work for the right people. And I know it sounds soft, I really do, but it’s really not. There’s, especially in the millennial generation, there are people who will take a lower paying job to work in a company that shares their values.
Of the companies that – when employees do work for companies that share their values, over 54% say they’re willing to go above the work scope. So, do more than what’s asked of them. So, if you lead with your values and you make your place the place that is yours, that’s really differentiating, and you get to do that without going through all the red tape of a larger company.
And then the second piece, now you’ve me started on this –
JLD: Yeah, I love it.
Jessica: So, in addition to the values, there’s a way to make your employees feel valued, right? So, it’s your values because it’s your place but if you can find ways to make your employees feel valued, then you’re driving engagement, you’re driving loyalty and that doesn’t mean, you know, anybody gets to come in at 10:00 and leave at 2:00 because that’s how they’re gonna feel valued. It’s figuring out what matters and maybe it is a flexible work schedule, which by the way when we think about benefits, that is the number one benefit. I’m putting up little air quotes Fire Nation.
So, that’s the number one benefit that people are looking for. Oh, by the way, entrepreneurs and small businesses right away can provide that. And so, is it a way to show if you recognize the people who are working for you in terms of what’s going on in their lives. Is there a way that you guys can get together and volunteer somewhere. There’s different ways for small employers to easily show that your employees are valued.
And I do think, to be perfectly frank, that benefits are another way of making that happen because if you can put together with a broker or maybe if you want to work with a PEO, which is a Preferred Employment Organization, that Professional Employment Organization than you can put together a package that is almost curated for your employees and that is another way to differentiate as well as show that value. So, I think that’s almost an unstoppable combination.
JLD: That combination is unstoppable Fire Nation, and those were value bombs from Jessica and we have some more coming up after the break. I mean, just to share a little teaser, we’re gonna be talking about five tips small business owners should keep in mind as they assess their benefits plan and we have a couple of other things I want to talk about as well. When we get back Fire Nation from thanking our sponsor.
JLD: So, Jessica we’re back and we talked about productivity and loyalty and how those things are so huge. How could adding benefits beyond medical really boost employer productivity and loyalty? I mean, we’ve talked about a few things but I really got you going there, I don’t want to cut you off, I want to let you keep kind of just sharing your knowledge in this area.
Jessica: Good luck, I’m gonna keep going. I mean, there are so many different things that you as a small business owner can do and I think we often tend to sort of default to medical insurance as like, well that’s what I think about benefits that’s what I think about. But, in fact, there’s other insurance or other benefits really that are really important and so, like dental coverage for example; very high demand from small business employees and some small business employees rank dental right after medical as a benefit that they were interested in but didn’t already get from their employers. So, that’s something where you can say, “Okay, let me figure out how to hear why my employees are asking for.”
And that’s really important because you have to make sure that you understand what it is that you’re getting, what it is that you’re providing because if you’re providing something that they’re not valuing then you’re frustrated and they’re frustrated. And it’s tough because small businesses don’t usually have dedicated HR team for benefits.
My mom ran a small business, I father worked for a small business, I definitely spent some time every Thursday at 9:00 where my mom was writing checks on the kitchen table because we did checks back then or she did checks back then and as a child of a small business owner we definitely spent some time, like Sundays, let’s play inventory. So, it is an all-consuming thing and so, if you’re giving all to your business you want to make sure that what you’re giving is resonating. And so, there’s a bunch of things, like both for retaining as well as attracting employees; retaining employees and finding the right potential employee that you can do specifically for small business owners.
JLD: So, I want to repeat stat that you shared that I thought was just amazing. I mean Fire Nation, 81% of employees who are very satisfied with their benefits are also very satisfied with their jobs. That is a mind blowing stat you need to keep close to your heart and mind. How do we find the right mix Jessica?
Jessica: You want to make sure you are listening to your employees. And I know that sounds silly and sort of a blinding glimpse of the obvious, but you need to understand what is going to resonate, right? If you’ve got a bunch of new parents like maybe there’s a dental plan that is going to allow for orthodontia, but if you don’t have that then maybe you need to go there. There’s lots of different things that you can do to figure out what is gonna resonate with your employees. And then you want to make sure that you communicate once you’ve chosen it right so that if you build it and they don’t come then you’ve spent all this time and they don’t know about it.
And so, you need to listen to your employees, you need to communicate. And that also is another place a broker can help is to help communicate that plan information in a way that makes sense. And wherever possible, obviously you want to make sure you’re understanding where are the gaps right, so here’s why I’m offering, here’s what someone’s looking for.
I mentioned dental, there’s also something like I think I mentioned earlier a legal services plan. You know, almost everybody needs a lawyer at some point and so, if this is something that you can offer, if that’s a gap that you can identify and say, “Hey, maybe if I’m offering this, that’s something that’s gonna resonate,” that’s a very powerful thing. And then what you don’t want to do is overwhelm people, right. So, you talked about the mix and that’s a very astute thing to say because you don’t want to just throw everything, but they need options but they should understand that there’s maybe you want to match the benefits to the life stages.
And a broker can help with that, but there’s also the opportunity to kind of take a step back and figure out what is it that makes sense and what is it that you want to be providing. So, I think benefits are – I think people get scared off because they think that it can be too expensive or it can be too confusing, but if you find a broker you trust and a carrier that you trust you can potentially bundle those benefits together. So, if you’re working with one broker who recommends one carrier you can get, let’s say dental and vision, or dental, vision, and legal all from one carrier and that makes administering it easier, it makes it all sort of flow more smoothly and it just takes a little bit of the hassle factor out.
JLD: Loving all this and Fire Nation, we’re at the grand finale. The little tease that I gave you before the break which are five tips small business owners should keep in mind as they assess their benefits plan. So, we’re going to be going through why communication is critical, how to find the gaps, why you should listen to your employees, choices, choices and streamline. So, take it away Jessica with communication being critical.
Jessica: So, that was a fantastic introduction.
Jessica: Communication is critical. Like I said earlier, if you understand the benefits package or your broker understands the benefits package that is not enough. Your employees need to understand them and so, you need to communicate in a way that is clear, in a way that is simple. If you have a broker they can provide those communication materials. If you work with a PEO, they can provide those communication materials. Really because again, if you build it and they don’t come then you’ve spent time and effort and you haven’t actually gained.
So, find the gaps, right? I think that was number two. So, I know the high deductible health plans are very common in today’s world and they make a ton of sense but they do leave employees with more out-of-pocket expenses than we’ve ever seen before. And so, I referenced earlier this concept of a voluntary benefit, whether it’s a critical illness or vision or accident insurance what that does is it helps the employees manage the out-of-pocket costs and reduce the risk.
So, they’re managing their out-of-pocket costs, they’re reducing their risks but it doesn’t cost the employer anything or maybe if they had the option to contribute, you can do that with dental where you can provide that lowered risk at very little to no costs and I can’t say enough about listening to your employees. You really, in fact maybe I should change that to be number one. You gotta know what they’re looking for and that doesn’t mean put it all out on the table and say, “Whatever you want you can have,” but if we can get underneath what their needs are you are gonna be able to figure out a way to make your employees feel valued.
If you’re providing a curated plan that fits what they’re looking for, whether it’s orthodontia available or whether it’s a legal plan that has will prep, depending on who you’re talking to, like that personal touch is one of the benefits that you have as a small employer that most large employers don’t have and I love to see small businesses use that to their advantage.
JLD: Choices, choices.
Jessica: Choices, choices. Don’t go crazy, listen, listen, listen but then don’t go crazy. You need to work with your broker whichever professional that you’re working with to make sure that they don’t have too many choices because in the face of too many choices we all know people just choose not to choose. Again, if it’s a lot of work for you to figure it out and then you’re working with your broker and there’s too much, then you run the risk that they won’t buy anything and that doesn’t you good and it doesn’t do your employees any good.
So, what you want to do is figure out what’s the right – working with a broker or PEO – what’s the right package that makes sense and is simple and clear. And then along those lines it’s streamline. And I referenced this before. It may make sense to put as many benefits as you want with one carrier, right. So, you’re dealing with one carrier, your employees are dealing with one carrier, often the products are designed to work together. MetLife bundles life, dental and disability for example. And so, it saves the employer time and also can save the employee time because it’s all streamlined together.
JLD: Fire Nation, this should be required listening to any small business owner that has employees because what it all bundles down to when Jessica’s breaking all of this down for us is do the right thing; do the right thing for your employees and they’re gonna do the right thing for you when it comes back to loyalty and retention and all of that jazz. And it’s just the right thing to do.
So, Jessica with everything that you shared today, what’s one thing that you want to make sure that our listeners really get. What’s that one takeaway?
Jessica: Can I make it two?
JLD: Yes, absolutely.
Jessica: Your values – lead with your values. This is your passion; this is what makes you you and you probably live it all the time and it’s what you do. You don’t realize how unique it is. Take a moment, recognize how unique it is, this is your passion, you made it happen. Share that and that’s gonna be the first and most important sort of light that’s gonna lead people to you.
And then the second is, with those values make sure that you make your employees feel valued. And benefits is one way of doing that. There’s many ways of doing it. It’s making sure that there’s an understanding that your employees matter. In small businesses one employee matter, two employees matter and that’s something that you can’t ever forget that.
So, lead with values, make your employees feel valued and then with whatever individual passion you’re providing, that’s pretty much unstoppable.
JLD: So, Jessica, as I mentioned to Fire Nation in the introduction, you’re the leader of Small Business Solutions in MetLife’s Group Benefits business. If Fire Nation wanted or just said, “Hey, I need to get in touch with Jessica for XY or Z,” what’s the best way they can do that?
Jessica: MetLife.com. www.MetLife.com and then you’ll be able to see where – you can click from there on to small business.
JLD: Fire Nation, you’re the average. Of the five people you spend the most time with and you’ve been hanging out with JM and JLD today, so keep up the heat. If you head over to eofire.com and type Jessica in the search bar, her show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. Best show notes in the biz and of course, visit MetLife.com for everything you need to learn more about what we talked about today, etc. etc.
And Jessica, thank you for sharing your truth, your value with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Jessica: Thank you so much. It was so much fun.
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