By Andy Glaub

Every child dreams of what they will be when they grow up. Whether their fantasy is exploring the great unknowns of space as an astronaut, scoring the game-winning play as a professional athlete or going to work at the White House as president, children have big ambitions. While professional clarity might take shape as people grow up, adults still have dreams. These dreams simply take shape in different ways. People might look for the next big step in their life in the form of a promotion, job change or total career switch.

As a small-business leader, you understand that attracting and retaining talent is important. You want your company to be the “greener pastures” where professionals take the next step in their career. With so many businesses across the United States vying for top-tier talent, it is important to differentiate yours from the rest of the pack. When looking for ways to beat the competition, there are several tools you can use to help bypass challenges and celebrate success.

In today’s global economy, small businesses across all industries find themselves up against expected – and unexpected – hurdles. Following three simple guidelines, however, can help you overcome and even avoid occasional obstacles, putting your small business far ahead of the competition.

1. Use benefits to attract top talent

Every small-business owner wants to hire the best of the best. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done since 17% of small-business owners have had open positions for at least three months.1 While several factors contribute to this, a competitive benefits package can be part of the solution, considering 55% of employees would be at least somewhat likely to accept a job with lower compensation but a more robust benefits package.2

With so many small businesses across the nation, this is a great starting point to differentiate yours from the competition and not only attract the best talent, but also keep them. Holding onto talent in-house goes a long way toward driving success. Here is how you can enhance benefits that will attract and retain top talent:

  • Partner with benefits advisors. Working with a benefits advisor is a key strategy to help you better understand the options that work best for your company and employees. Not only will an advisor be knowledgeable on the latest benefits products available, they can also help develop cost-management strategies and provide needed guidance for your employees.
  • Offer value-added services. Many employers may not consider value-added services as a motivator in the workplace, but they absolutely can be. For example, telemedicine services can help cut the cost of doctor visits for sick employees as well as encourage employees to seek treatment, helping keep them healthier in the office. Employees can find access to complimentary consultative services from licensed professionals with financial and legal preparedness services.

2. Take steps to better understand the health care landscape

Health care can be confusing for even the most well-versed business owner. Laws are frequently changing, plans are complex and many business leaders may feel uncertain about the best plans to offer employees. Getting a better understanding of the health care landscape can give a leg up over competitors by helping inform an expert benefits strategy.

  • Take time to learn about supplemental insurance policy options. When many people think of employee benefits, their minds go directly to health insurance. However, supplemental coverage, like that offered by Aflac, can help cover the expenses health insurance doesn’t. Whether it is life, dental, vision, accident or critical illness coverage, these policies can help provide the added peace of mind one needs to focus on getting better, not the bills.
  • Stay on top of benefits laws. Did you know that there are programs in place specifically to help small businesses with health care needs? Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (QSEHRAs) help businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees provide their workers with maximum flexibility and health coverage cost-savings on a pretax basis. By taking advantage of QSEHRAs, employers agree not to offer a group major medical plan to employees, but reallocate specified funds to help reimburse employees for their own qualified health insurance premiums while excluding them from the employees’ taxable income and payroll taxes.3

3. Promote productivity during work hours with unique engagement practices

Everybody has off days. It is no secret that sometimes it is easy to disengage at the workplace. A recent study, however, shows that a lack of engagement is more common than one might think, with only 34% of employees reporting that they feel actively engaged in their job.4 So, how can a small business ensure that its employees stay attentive in their work? Here are some keys to employee engagement:

  • Find opportunities to support the community together. Today’s employees care about social responsibility and want to work for companies that give back to the communities in which they live and work. When looking for ways to engage in doing good, one way to help employees feel involved is through charitable donations. Also, consider creating employee volunteer opportunities through a local organization. By giving back to the community as a team, employees can develop and strengthen comradery and gain a greater sense of belonging to the business.
  • Provide career development programs. Offering training opportunities that develop employees’ skill sets can expand their abilities and boost their confidence. These programs can take several forms. Consider offering classes to help employees learn new skills relevant to your organization’s day-to-day operations or create a mentorship program that pairs junior employees with senior employees who understand how to develop a career. By providing opportunities to learn, not only can productivity within the company increase, but employees can apply the skills they learn to their job.

Conquering common challenges within the small-business community is important for any business looking to grow. Fortunately, there are several strategies to help turn challenges into triumphs for small-business leaders, leaving room for the company to be the subject of dreams for eager, dedicated and hard-working employees.

Andy Glaub, a 33-year veteran of Aflac, is the senior vice president, director of sales. He oversees the U.S. Sales team and is responsible for sales strategy, innovation and development in the worksite benefits market.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation. Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and/or American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.

1 2019 CNBC/SurveyMonkey Q1 Small Business Confidence Index. Accessed April 11, 2019.

2 The 2018 Aflac WorkForces Report is the eighth annual study examining benefits trends and attitudes. The surveys, conducted by Lightspeed, captured responses from 1,700 benefits decision-makers and 2,000 employees across the United States in various industries. For more information, visit

3 For additional information about Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA), visit

4 Gallup 2018 Employee Engagement Poll. Accessed April 11, 2019.


Small-business success stock photo by Evdokimov Maxim/Shutterstock