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Aflac Study Unveils Small Businesses’ Approach to Benefits Decisions

Benefits still a key employee concern and may trump job satisfaction when it comes to employer loyalty…

While 84 percent of small-business leaders say they either maintained or grew sales and revenue in 2013, they’re tempering those positive indicators with careful choices about hiring, compensation and employee benefits according to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report for Small Businesses. This study, released in July by Aflac (NYSE: AFL), the leading provider of voluntary insurance in the United States, revealed that as small-business decision-makers adapt to a slowly growing economy and health care reform regulations – they are still concerned about taking care of employees and continuing their benefits options.

The study found that businesses with three to 99 employees took these actions:

  • Hired at a slower pace than medium or large companies with 45 percent of small businesses having hired full-time workers in 2013, compared to 71 percent of mid-sized companies and 60 percent of large organizations.
  • 12 percent changed employee hours from full- to part-time in 2013.
  • 34 percent said they gave employees smaller raises in 2013 than in previous years, but only 24 percent said they plan to do the same this year and only 18 percent plan to eliminate or delay raises in 2014.

Job satisfaction does not guarantee company loyalty

The study also found that although 63 percent of employees at small businesses are extremely or very satisfied with their job, many think there’s room for improvement when it comes to their benefits packages. Only 12 percent are extremely satisfied with their benefits and only 14 percent believe their benefits package meets their current family needs extremely well.

And, for small-business employees, benefits can be the deciding factor in staying with their employer or not. With half (50 percent) of employees at small companies saying they’re likely to look for new jobs in the next 12 months, the Aflac study highlights how critical benefits are to keeping workers in their jobs and demonstrates that job satisfaction alone does not always guarantee company loyalty.

  • Nearly 6 in 10 (57 percent) small-business workers said they’re likely to accept jobs with slightly lower compensation but better benefits.
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of small-business employees said improving their benefits packages is one thing their employers could do to keep them in their job.

“Employees at a small business might be satisfied with their pay, enjoy their company environment, their colleagues and the work itself, but that doesn’t mean better benefits offerings elsewhere won’t entice them to leave,” said Teresa White, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Aflac Columbus. “These findings should alert small-business decision-makers that robust benefits, including voluntary insurance, are an important way to keep employees engaged, productive and loyal.”

Benefits are important to small-business employees

Preserving benefits offerings can go a long way toward keeping employees at the company. More than one-third (38 percent) of small-business employees said maintaining their health care benefits is their most important benefits concern right now. Solutions that can help small businesses reduce and manage their employees’ health care costs while still delivering the coverage that their workforce demands include employee-paid policies such as voluntary benefits.

Additionally, the Aflac study found that 85 percent of small-business employees consider voluntary benefits to be part of a comprehensive benefits program. In fact, 62 percent of workers at small companies see a growing need for voluntary insurance benefits today compared to year’s past, driven by:

  • Rising medical costs (71 percent).
  • Increasing price of medical coverage (63 percent).
  • Increasing deductibles and copays (58 percent).
  • Reduced number of benefits and/or amount of coverage by their employers (29 percent).

To learn more about the latest benefits trends visit AflacWorkForcesReport.comAflac Small Business Blog or follow @aflac on Twitter.

About the Aflac WorkForces Report
The 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report is the fourth annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefit trends and attitudes. The study, conducted by Research Now, captured responses from 1,856 benefits decision-makers and 5,209 employees across the U.S. To learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report, visit

Conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, the research contained two components – employer research and employee research. The Employer Survey was conducted online within the United States from Jan. 7-23, 2014, among 1,856 benefits decision-makers. Results were representative of U.S. companies with at least three employees based on company size (number of employees) and industry. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

The Employee Survey was conducted online within the United States from Jan. 7-27, 2014, among 5,209 employed adults ages 18 and older who are employed full or part time at a company with three or more employees and not retired. The first 3,124 interviews were nationally representative while the remaining 2,085 interviews were conducted among the top 20 designated market areas (DMAs) – 100+ interviews per DMA. Results were weighted as needed to match U.S. demographics and to enable year over year trending. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

As part of the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report, 596 benefits decision-makers and 1,467 employees at small companies, with between three and 99 employees, were surveyed.


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