More than ever, healthcare benefits are top of mind for those looking for employment, and with furniture stores finding it more and more challenging to attract job applicants, wouldn’t it be nice to have good healthcare benefits to attract new hires?
Recently, more than a dozen states announced they plan to end enhanced weekly unemployment benefits. At least 16 governors expect to cut it off as early as June 12 and as late as July 10. If so, some 2 million people across Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming could be affected per CNBC. And we’re talking workers, not employers.
Of course, this would signal a huge shift for retailers and other sectors battling for hourly workers. A recent Black Box Intelligence survey of 360-plus operators found 57 percent of business owners credit “higher pay through unemployment” for today’s labor shortage.
President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan extended a $300 weekly federal boost through September 6, which has left the recruiting pool a cloudy place, some retailers believe.
Service businesses added 187,000 jobs in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roughly 10.64 million were on payroll. However, this is still down 1.65 million from February 2020.
Biden said workers who collect unemployment and are offered a suitable job must take the opportunity or lose their unemployment benefits. This hasn’t been so clear at times during the pandemic.
“There are a few COVID-19-related exceptions so that people aren’t forced to choose between their basic safety and a paycheck; otherwise, that’s the law,” Biden said in a statement.
“I think the people who claim Americans won’t work even if they find a good and fair opportunity underestimate the American people,” he added. “So we’ll insist that the law is followed with respect to benefits, but we’re not going to turn our backs on our fellow Americans.”
The White House said it would direct the Department of Labor to reaffirm unemployment standards and help states reinstate “work search” requirements for those utilizing unemployment insurance.
Yet how this gets enforced isn’t entirely clear, and either is the timing. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte led the charge on announcing his state would cut the expanded benefits, stating, “Incentives matter and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good. We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce. Our return-to-work bonus and the return to pre-pandemic unemployment programs will help get more Montanans back to work.”
Retailers must now go to creative ends to attract workers. Some retailers are even doing walk-in interviews with no appointment necessary. Applebee’s, which is looking to hire 10,000 people, is giving every candidate 18 years or older that attends an interview a free appetizer as part of the chain’s “Apps for Apps” program.
What benefits can attract new staff during this challenging time?
Bonuses can be especially effective for enticing qualified back-of-house warehouse employees who do not typically receive tips. “The goal in hiring for any particular position is longevity—high-staff turnover can be disruptive and may cost you money in the long run. To avoid this, make sure that your bonuses are drawn out over time, which keeps your risk low and the employees’ opportunity to continually earn more high.”
Let’s shift to some solutions. We specialize in creating benefits for furniture retailers to offer employees. Let’s walk through what that looks like.
Our goal is to build a spectrum of healthcare solutions that “leaves no team member behind.” We work with retailers of all sizes to help identify the healthcare solutions owner-operators and employees need and can afford—from telemedicine to gold-level insurance plans—so employees from seasonal to management have access to affordable products that keep them healthy. We source healthcare solutions, and our partners enroll employees, administer the plans, all for a discount than if you were to go source these plans without the HFA. Our provider Decisely, who administers these programs, helps you maintain that distance from franchisees.
An additional goal is to keep it as easy as possible for you to save money, you need an easy way to administer the plans, and you need to get back to running your businesses. We help you do that.
What are some success stories that brands have had in doing so?
We work with franchise owners who previously had benefits they sourced on their own, now saving 25-30 percent or more—as much as $100,000 a year. Employees are saving as much as $6,000 a year. Think about what that means to an employee making $45,000 a year. It’s a great deal of money back in their pocket that they can put back into the economy in other ways. One of our favorite stories came from a franchise owner who was expecting to save over 30 percent. He ultimately saved somewhat less than that—because more of his employees were able to enroll in the more affordable plan. A happy outcome for him because he’s building some great employee loyalty.
The need for integrated, paper-free HR tools will continue to help furniture retailers work more efficiently. Reach out and learn more about our programs to support hiring, healthcare benefits, and more with our partners.