You’re a new business owner and you just reached your one-year anniversary. Congratulations. You haven’t gone in the red, and you’ve retained your four full-time employees who are now asking for benefits.
They’ve been loyal. They’ve been there for you. What can you give them in return?
Owning a small business typically means you’re not just wearing the President and CEO hat. You’re also probably the Chief Financial Officer and the head of Human Resources as well.
But trying to find adequate health insurance benefits and human resources solutions for your employees can be time consuming and frustrating — not to mention expensive.
That’s why many small business owners ultimately decide to outsource the management of their benefits and in some cases, they have also outsourced their entire Human Resources department.
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More companies are hiring one-stop consultants because the cost of outsourcing human resources is typically less than hiring a full-time employee. And, companies have the added security of knowing that they are working with a benefits specialist who is looking out for the best interest of their company.
“Many businesses don’t have it in their budget to hire a human resources director, and even if they did, that director couldn’t possibly know everything there is to know about every health insurance option that’s out there that might work best for them,” said Terri Eder, President and owner of eTech Solutions (www.4etechsolutions.com), Inc. in Darien, Ill. “That’s where we step in with our partners and remove the confusion of trying to navigate through hundreds of different carriers.”
Three years ago, eTech Solutions began as an independent merchant services provider. Today, the company has expanded its services, offering HR packages as well as marketing solutions for the small business owner.
After her first year in business, Eder came to realize that her small business clients not only needed a way to process credit cards, but they also needed a functional, alternative plan for their human resources concerns, including management of their 401K plans.
Last year, she decided to partner with Tag Resources (www.tagresources.com), LLC, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based consulting firm. Tag Resources is a business services organization (sometimes referred to as a “BSO”;) that provides small and medium-sized businesses with products and services that are normally only available to large companies, including health insurance plans at a low cost, something that is typically available to larger businesses because they have a higher volume of employees.
Through e-Tech and Tag Resources, employees have the option to choose their insurance benefits from a broad range of administrators while keeping the rates flat. The companies, and others like them, connect small business owners to experts who can provide the best quality solution at a fee that fits their clients’ budgets.
This usually involves finding the right healthcare, retirement planning, and risk management options such as workers compensation and unemployment. They work to protect small business owners from lawsuits for wrongful termination and they also insulate 401K plans and banking portfolios.
“We are a convenient way for smaller companies to find the resources they need at a fraction of the cost,” said Troy Tisue, a partner at Tag Resources. Tisue’s father, Phil Tisue, began the company 30 years ago.
“We spend 95 percent of our time . . . trying to locate cost-effective, comprehensive medical and dental plans for our partners’ clients and working with companies like Gevity who specialize in human resource services,” explained Tisue.
Hiring an outsourcing consultant allows small businesses to have most of their human resources services under one umbrella and that can help save big bucks.
“Tag contacted us and honestly, we didn’t realize how unsatisfied we were with our current 401(k) administrator until they showed us how many other options there were to choose from,” recalled Sally Harris, director of human resources at Heritage Family, a group of small funeral homes located in the tri-state area around Elizabethtown,Tenn.
“Ultimately, they saved us money and got us hooked in with another administrator who seemed to have more of an interest in our business,” said Harris. “Over time, the fees were far less than what we were paying other administrators and eventually they will have saved us thousands (of dollars) in administrative fees alone,” she added.
Saving money is important, but to Harris, the best part about working with Tag Resources and eTech is the personalized service.
“I was really impressed with their (Tag Resources’) responsiveness, and the fact that they were available when there was a question or a problem in getting our third-party administrator set up,” explained Harris. “We’re not just a number to them and they provide really good customer service.”
Which is another reason small companies are increasingly looking outside the company for human resources assistance.
“We have been providing this service to employers for 15 years and I would say that in the last 5 years there has been a dramatic increase and a steady trend upwards in not only the detailed services outsourcing companies provide, but also from the new companies who are interested in using these services,” said Tricia Trout, a health and welfare practice leader for Hewitt Associates, LLC, the international human resources outsourcing firm in Lincolnshire, Ill..
According to Trout, human resource consultants have to be even more innovative in the way that they design solutions, since employers are consistently upgrading their strategies to adapt to the changing economy.
“The services that we and other consultants provide are so varied, that you might provide one solution that is tailored to a certain need, and this may free up other areas of administrative work that are more pressing to the employer,” Trout said. “Basically, the idea is that we provide a solution for the client so that they can concentrate on their core business.”
Being a small business owner herself, Eder feels as though she has already walked a mile in her clients’ shoes.
“Our goal has always been to empower small businesses and give them access to plans they would never be able to afford. And with the help of other consultants like Tag Resources and other firms, we know that we are giving them the best deal out there,” said Eder.
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