One of the cornerstones of any church is giving back, but that can mean more than taking care of the community. It also means focusing inward to acknowledge the employees who work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the mission running smoothly. Although your staff members will tell you that the chance to serve the church and its people is a great blessing, it’s also important to focus on the more practical benefits.
If your church has more than one employee, you’re eligible to apply for group health insurance in all 50 states. How much it costs depends on a number of factors, such as the insurance carrier, the type of plan (HMO, PPO, etc.), your location, the size of the provider network, and your employee demographics. Many small businesses start their search for a provider via either a broker or one of the public Small Business Health Options, or SHOP, marketplaces.
In 2018, the average yearly premium for employer-based single coverage was $6,896. For families, it was $19,616. Of that total, employers contributed an average of 82% for single coverage ($5,655), and 71% for families ($13,927). Typically, employee contributions are collected as payroll deductions.
Multiply that times your number of employees, and the number can seem cost-prohibitive. But there is some good news. Another survey found that more than half (53 percent) of small businesses said that offering a health plan had not prevented them from offering raises or growing their staff.
HRAs: An Alternative to Traditional Coverage
One thing to remember is that large insurance carriers aren’t your only option. If the quotes you’re receiving are just too high, consider a reimbursement plan that contributes toward health insurance they secure on their own. They’re known as Health Reimbursement Arrangements, or HRAs, and you can choose from a number of different types. The Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement, or QSEHRA, is one that’s designed especially to help small businesses reimburse employees for their personal premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
Unlike a traditional health insurance plan, the QSEHRA is a monthly employee allowance for health expenses. The money is tax-sheltered, frees up your employees to pay for a wide range of medical expenses that might not otherwise be covered, and perhaps best of all, the reimbursement is completely controlled by you. For some small businesses, they set the amount based on research into current personal health insurance rates.
Other types of HRAs include Individual Coverage HRAs, which can be offered to employees who have purchased individual health insurance, and Group HRAs can serve as an extension of a traditional insurance plan.
AHPs: The Power of Community
While Association Health Plans were normally reserved for businesses with more than 50 employees, the Department of Labor extended their availability to small businesses in 2018. Under this type of plan, a small business can join forces within industries, professions or regions to share the costs of health insurance. In the case of churches, it means that instead of one church claiming 10 employees, it could be multiple churches claiming enough employees to qualify for the discounts of large-group coverage.
Benefits Beyond Insurance
Are you surprised to hear that nearly 80 percent of employees say they’d rather have a new benefit than a pay increase? Health insurance, paid time off, performance bonuses and paid sick days top their wish list, along with retirement plans, flexible schedules, office perks like casual dress and professional development opportunities.
While fair compensation for your employees should always be a top priority, one of the best benefits to you about this list is that you can implement many of them for little or no cost. Casual dress, for example, can start with a simple email. A work-from-home policy can potentially be implemented easily as well, depending on your network security protocols. And the web abounds with free or low-cost opportunities for professional development.
Once you’ve fulfilled all your federal and state requirements for employee benefits, it’s really up to you to be as creative as you want to build a package that your employees will love. Especially in a church environment, focusing on building a community could be seen as an attractive perk. Here are a few ideas to inspire you:
If your church community also includes a school, offering tuition discounts could be attractive to employees who are also parents. In addition, consider “bring your kid to work” days, flexible work-from-home options to care for sick family members, or even weekend get-togethers for employees and their families.
Little things can go a long way to foster a sense of family at work, from offering blankets to employees who sit beneath the A/C vents to giving out peer-recognition awards. Offer a monthly, church-sponsored group lunch, and be sure to make decorating for the big holidays a big deal.
Volunteer Time Off
This aligns with one of a church’s central missions — getting out into the community. But rather than asking your employees to give back during their time off, allow them to spend time volunteering while they’re being paid.
At Corban OneSource, we understand faith-based organizations because we’re one, too. We know how difficult it is to balance volunteers, employees and all the other moving pieces necessary to run a successful church. Let us take the burden of HR management off your shoulders so you can focus on the big picture, not paperwork.