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Since you don't have an HR person to rake care of this for you, most of the people you will be dealing with are only interested in selling you a bill of goods.
You are going to have to start contacting insurers separately. Do not tell them you are shopping with other vendors. If they know you are shopping it will encourage them to cut the initial price and sneak in an increase the first 6 months. Stay away from larger companies like the Principal for financial 401K, they are not equipped to handle small businesses and their financial offerings are not competitive.
What other benefits are you looking at besides health insurance and 401K? If your employees want to manage their own retirement accounts, contact Scottrade, they have a small business program. If you do not want the hassle of managing benefit programs why not offer them 'X' dollars per month to use towards any benefits they purchase themselves?
A good accountant would be a good place to start. You need to look into the following plans.
Employee Accountable or Reimbursement Plan
Fringe benefits plan
Depending on your revenue and cash flow you might only qualify for one plan or 2 or all. You can learn about it yourself and do it yourself (save $$$) or find someone to help you.
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One way you can reward your key contributors and give them an incentive not to leave would be to institute a discretionary profit sharing plan with what is known as "cliff vesting". On an annual basis, the company makes a determination of the discretionary contribution to the plan - note you can determine zero is the annual contribution if you so choose. The contribution will then be allocated to each of your employee's participant accounts maintained within the plan. Each employee would receive a percentage of the contribution equal to their percentage of the total salaries paid by the company (subject to certain limitations).
An example would be that you have three employees and authorize a contribution of $100,000 for the year. If employees A & B earn $60,000 and employee C (could be you) earns $80,000, you would allocate the contribution by dividing $100,000 x employee earnings / total payroll. A & B = $30,000 ($100,000 x $60,000 / $200,000) and C = $40,000 ($100,000 x $80,000 / $200,000).
The cliff vesting, in english, translates to the employees have to work for you for 5 years or they forfeit any allocations to the plan. You can write the plan document to state that the forfeiture amounts are allocated among remaining participants or you can have them applied to offset your future contributions.
This program would reward employees, provide incentive for them to stay, provide incentive for performance (more contributions in good years) and would allow you to participate in the tax deferred contributions to the retirement plan.
I own a CPA firm and my exposure to these plans is from an audit perspective - http://www.5500audit.com - but I see this as being a possible avenue for you to reward employees and maintain some level of loyalty. If any of the above is confusing to you, please don't hesitate to email and I will try to clarify.
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I operate a relatively small business. Lately, I've been getting asked about employee benefits. I don't want to lose any of my key contributors, but I have no idea how to get benefits for my team. How expensive is paying benefits for my top 3 guys and where is the best place to find useful information?