Maximizing Employee Benefits

Over the last three years, HR benefits budgets have experienced substantial cuts because of the economy. Employers face increasing challenges regarding employee benefits:  what does health care reform mean for the company and employees; which benefits strategies will manage the budget while remaining talent competitive; how do we ease benefits programs’ administrative burdens; and what education methods will help employees learn about the benefits they have, what’s covered, and possible gaps?

It’s more than money

Take the blah out of employee benefits. You don’t have to keep swallowing large benefits percentage increases on your current offering thinking it is the right thing to do while wondering if anyone cares. Design the benefits package employees want, value, and are willing to contribute to themselves versus your traditional package. Your benefits package can be sustainable, attractive, and a competitive advantage.

What’s important

Communication through a continuous, engaging dialogue throughout the year. According to a national study by MetLife in 2011, employees who reported that their organization had effective benefits communications were more likely to be loyal to their organization, and more satisfied with their benefits and with their jobs.

  • Understand the personal value. Conduct a benefit audit survey of employees that will assess what benefits they want, what they have, what they value, and what they use. Allow a two-three year cycle so that benefits changes have time to grab a root then underappreciated benefits goes away in year three.
  • Implement benefits education prior to hire, in the on-boarding process, and throughout the year by bringing in vendors and specialists.
  • Provide total compensation statements to employees on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis.
  • Budget by listening. I have forced myself to be really open minded and not assumptive. Through our surveys, we discovered employees wanted more casual days and more potlucks. These don’t cost any money. Did we listen? You bet!
  • Pay attention to consumer trends that employees are embracing voluntarily. HSA’s have portable retirement benefits, tax advantages to both employers and employees and offer flexibility in paying for health related items and services. Defined benefit plans provide a set amount of dollars that employees can spend on a menu of benefits they value.
  • Live your company’s values. Does your company culture support a healthy lifestyle changes through wellness programs and day-to-day commitment to your employees health? Does it meet work life balance needs? 

Changing employee benefits can be exhausting mentally and monetarily. Maximize your benefits package based on the employees’ perceived value versus being a slave to the market.

Written by Jim Annis President/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Tom Miller, and Suzanne Chennault, Applied’s division directors, contributed to this article.

Applied Staffing Solutions JOB FAIR

After questioning thousands of employers, a national survey’s results disclosed the number two avenue for job seekers to find employment was through a staffing agency. Number one? A referral from a current employee.

Applied Staffing Solutions, the largest locally owned staffing agency in northern Nevada, is holding an offsite Job Fair in Stead at Sierra Nevada Job Corps Center (5560 Cocoa Avenue, Reno, Nevada) Wednesday, November 6, 2013 – 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Follow the signs to the Rec Building next to the softball field.

Some of the 140 direct hire, seasonal, temporary and temporary-to-hire positions are the only way for job seekers to showcase their skills and “get a foot in the door” at great northern Nevada companies.

Most job posting details are on our website ( Jobs include, but are not limited to:

Direct Hire: Director of Sourcing, R & D Supervisor, Sales Account Managers, Sales Support Representatives, Marketing Representative, Estimator, Assistant Controller.

Long Term, Seasonal, Temporary & Temporary-to-Hire: Appointment Takers, Staff Accountant, Weekend Merchandisers (Heavy Lifting), CNC Machinists, Truck Loaders, Lead Electrical Assembler, Field Service Technician, Shop Painter, Seamstresses, Shipping with UPS/FedEx, Warehouse Lead, Bilingual Receiver, Quality Control,  Warehouse/Appliance Installer, Furniture Upholstery Industrial Sewing, MANY Picking/Packing and Warehouse positions.

Light industrial and warehouse positions require a minimum age of 18. Candidates are encouraged to bring a résumé.

We appreciate you posting this at your facility or passing it forward to job seekers.  Thank you for working together to help put northern Nevada to work.

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 16 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

The Benefit of Employee Benefits

Over 100 years ago, Montgomery Ward & Co. needed an innovative way to care for their employees and protect them from financial hardship. Founded in 1872, the company was known for its ground-breaking ways. Customers were attracted to Montgomery Ward & Co.’s unprecedented policy of “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back,” which it implemented in 1875. A few years later, they were neck and neck with Sears Roebuck, and the two companies struggled for dominance throughout the 20th century. In 1910, Montgomery Ward & Co. implemented the first true group health insurance plan.

Should You Offer Employee Benefits? 

Fast forward to 2013. Providing benefits is a key competitive advantage. Losing one key employee can bring down your entire operation. We are not in a recession. People are hiring. Direct hire is picking up. The probability that your “A” players will be recruited away in the next five years via another company’s robust benefit plan is high. In my world, one of the continuous conversations business owners have is whether employers want to pay or play under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). You will have to “play” to keep “A” talent. If employers with 50 or more employees choose to offer health insurance independently, their offering will be more robust and attractive than an exchange plan.

 Which Ones? 

Anything is valued by those you want to hire and the current employees you want to retain, especially director level positions. In 2012, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) published, “The Employee Benefits Landscape in a Recovering Economy” ( on its annual benefits survey. It lists the over 300 types of benefits addressed in the survey, everything from traditional 401K plans, to down payment assistance, and increasingly popular technology discount benefits. We believe workplace flexibility policies support employees’ work life balance; provide predictability and stability to employers, all with low costs and high returns. The Applied Companies pay for 40 hours a year per each employee for volunteer activities.


Do you want good people or not? A key factor in future hiring negotiations will mirror history – the value of the benefits package. As Boomers get older, they may decide to stay with your company. Good. You’ll retain that institutional knowledge. Benefits packages can help hang on to those “A” players until you can undergo a succession planning process and knowledge transfer to their replacements. Offering a valuable benefits package reinforces your company culture and increases your productivity level.

Offering employee benefits is good for your business.

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Tom Miller, and Suzanne Chennault, Applied’s division directors, contributed to this article.

We’ve Got Your Back

Last week I sat in on a webinar about employment opportunities. It was extremely informative and well worth the time. I was appalled to hear that according to a national survey “job seekers felt losing a family member in death is less stressful than looking for a job”.  How sad is that?

The feeling didn’t come from a lack of job opportunities, it originated from their job search experiences and how they were treated. One of our “points of pride” here at Applied Staffing Solutions is how we treat candidates – we like to think we’ve got their back. Here are four tips every employer can use to help make job searches less stressful.

Be Kind

Kindness includes a warm greeting with a smile that reaches the eyes and says, “I’m glad to see you.” Even if you know immediately that the candidate isn’t right for your company, be considerate and give them a few friendly moments of your time.

Put Yourself in the Candidate’s Shoes 

Remember the Golden Rule and treat others as you would like to be treated. Do you remember what it was like when you were the one seated in the lobby, sweating bullets and hoping like heck you give all the right answers? Be compassionate to people who are trying to keep a roof over their head, food on the table and are mentally crying, “Pick me. Please, pick me!”

Grey is Great

If you aren’t open to hiring mature workers, please stop letting it show. I’ve listened to countless job seekers who are part of the aging workforce describe interviewer’s curled lips, sneers and amusement at their applying. Some of the many benefits to hiring baby boomers are their work ethic, knowledge, dependability, and incredible people skills. They can look you in the eye and carry on a conversation. Try not to doubt a person’s abilities based on their age.

Information is King

Supply job seekers with a complete job description, summary of benefits and the wage before the interview. If someone is qualified, skilled and talented, don’t low-ball the offer. Start the relationship off on a good note by seeing the value and worth of your new potential employee.

Written by Susan C. Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 16 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.