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Employee Benefits – Brooker Insurance Agency

Employee Benefits

Attract and Keep Employees with Discount Programs

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Smart leaders are always looking for ways to show their appreciation to employees without breaking the bank. Hopefully, you provide some health benefits, life insurance, a retirement plan, and maybe some other fancy benefits that keep you employees committed to your company. However, in a tight labor market, little additions make a difference to work-life balance (for yourself, too). Participating in discount programs can go a long way toward attracting and keeping great employees.


Attraction and Event Discounts

Employee perks program provide discounts–often quite generous ones–to restaurants, attractions, and events. These can range from Broadway shows to your city’s zoo. A quick Google search will reveal numerous programs. Tickets at Work, Access Perks, and Working Advantage are examples. 

An HR professional writing for Access Perks said that what she values about offering this kind of program is, “introducing [employees] to opportunities and experiences they might not otherwise be able to afford.” Some programs, however, also include everyday services, like hair salons, oil changes, and pet grooming.

When you choose a program, consider your employees’ interests and demographics. For example, if they have families, they might appreciate access to kid-friendly entertainment or amusement parks. If you’re a national company, or your employees like to travel, pick one that includes widespread options. If you’re local and think your team might appreciate outings close to home, look for one that represents options in your area.


Shopping Memberships

Everyone has to buy food, clothing, and household items. By giving your employees a way to save on these things, you help them budget and improve their financial wellness. Look into corporate programs at wholesale club stores like Costo, Sam’s Club, BJ’s and others.

Another way to leverage wholesale clubs is to use them for office supplies. Take the time to calculate what you will save over the course of a year, and you might be surprised.


Gym and Golf Memberships

Gym memberships tie in nicely with your employee wellness program. You benefit with this one, too. Healthier employees miss less work and incur fewer insurance costs. If there is a gym close to your location, it’s a clear choice. Many people like to work out right before or after work, or squeeze in a sweat session during lunch. Or, choose a gym with multiple locations to make it easy for people who live in different parts of the city.

If golf if more to your team’s taste, reach out to local golf and country clubs about corporate memberships. Not only can employees use these on their own, but you can use them as a company. Host annual meetings or celebrations there, or provide a place for your employees to entertain clients. These may incur a higher up-front cost, but they can pay off for years to come.


Get Creative

Listen to your employees and explore your community. Match their interests with the resources around you. Tailor your perks to your company’s unique culture, and you will make employees feel like they’re part of something special. Get a little creative, and discover the discounts that will keep people around for the long haul.


Whatever discount programs you invest in, they can pay off. With a little legwork and usually a minimal investment in the beginning, you can offer your employees something that doesn’t come with an invoice every time they use it!

Quality of Life for Your Employees

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When you run a business, everything is data. You pore of P&L statements and spreadsheets, always attempting to reduce costs and maximize profits. It’s important to remember, though, that your employees are people. Like you, they have full lives happening parallel to their “work lives.” They do their best work when you acknowledge this. One way is by offering perks that fit their needs.

A recent survey by SCORE showed that 53% of employees reported more perks in the workplace increased their quality of life. So what can you offer that will enhance your employees’ lives, create a winning company culture, and retain the best workers in your industry?


Wellness Programs

We’ve talked in the past about some kinds of wellness programs you might offer. From physical, to mental, to financial wellness, employees benefit from these resources. When they benefit, you benefit. 

Wellness programs can range in cost depending on what you can commit. You might offer something as simple as educational videos that people can watch on company time to learn about, for example, managing money or healthful eating. You could partner with a local gym on a corporate membership. Some companies even bring in experts to work with employees during lunch breaks or before work. These could be professionals who teach anything from yoga to personal self-defense to relaxation techniques.


Flexible Work Schedules

Flexibility is crucial to work-life balance. Depending on the type of company you run, flexibility may look different. If you operate during traditional business hours, you might make small concessions like letting someone start an hour earlier to avoid traffic and leave an hour earlier to pick up their children from school. If you’re an around-the-clock operation, you might vary shifts and break times to best accommodate employees’ different lifestyles.

Employees with children or dependent adults at home may be especially drawn to take a job in a place that understands their needs. For example, you might let them take a couple of hours away for a doctor’s appointment if they can make up that time later in the week. Another great perk is floating holidays. They allow a person to take a day off when they need it most.

Some companies go so far as to allow unlimited vacation. As long as an employee get all of his or her work done, it’s at their discretion to take time off. As an HR professional describes in this article for The Muse, “It’s a focus on producing great results, rather than just putting in the hours.” Only you can decide if this would work for your company.


Remote Work

Another way to provide flexibility is by permitting remote work. Even industries that handle sensitive information can work remotely with the right security measures. Work with your IT team to discover the technology needs to make it feasible. Ensure that employees stay in the loop, wherever they work, through regular online check-ins.

People in some positions can work remotely all the time, perhaps joining in person for meetings. However, even meetings today often take place via video. That said, if you are not comfortable with having employees off-site all the time, you can start by offering one remote day per week. Then take time to work out any kinks and decide whether to expand the opportunity.



Everyone’s brain needs a break. In fact, so do their bodies. For people who sit a lot or engage in repetitive motions all day, moving around is crucial. As part of your wellness program mentioned above, you could lead daily mini-workouts or stretching sessions. Or, you might allow employees time to take walks around the building or a nearby neighborhood. You can keep these productive by holding “walking meetings.”

Another idea, of course, is to install arcade games or a foosball table. These may sound silly, but they can provide a much-needed opportunity to decompress and generate camaraderie among workers. If you really want to win them over, let them participate in deciding what to get.

You can also plan outings or team lunches. These can be hard to fit into packed schedules, but try to make time for some kind of social interaction at least once per month.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of believing creative perks make up for lower salaries or lack of health benefits. Employees report that those basics still mean the most. After all, employees will struggle to focus on work when they’re worried about how to pay a medical bill or their child’s tuition. But do strive to provide a unique, engaging workplace where people are glad to show up each day.

work-life balance

Work-Life Balance Means Happier Employees

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There are many reasons we work. Ideally, you get a sense of purpose and accomplishments out of your work, possibly make good friends, and learn new things. But the main reason most people work is to support themselves and their families. Work, at its most basic provides a means of supplying food, shelter, education, and healthcare to the people we love most. 

It’s not different for your employees. As much as you strive to provide a fulfilling work environment, they go home–to someone–at the end of the work day. When you recognize that your employees have lives outside of work, and support their ability to pursue those values, you give them a better work experience. Employees will stick with companies that support their work-life balance. So, what benefits can you offer to achieve that end?


Offer Flexible Work Options

The world and workforce are always changing. See how you can incorporate flexible schedules and remote working into your company. 

Flexible scheduling allows for employees to work when it’s best for them. After all, not everyone can thrive in the typical 9-to-5 workday. Allow those who work better in the evenings or afternoons to work when they’re most productive. Give them a chance to drop off their kids at school, or get home in time for dinner, depending on what works best for them.

Remote is becoming more common all the time. Naturally, this won’t work for every position, especially in manufacturing. However, consider ways that people in administrative roles, for example, might work from home occasionally. Put measures in place that allow employees to access your computer network securely from anywhere.


Offer Mentorship and Partnership Opportunities

Giving someone a mentor is an effective way to pass knowledge along to new employees. Pair new employees with someone who has been at your company for a long time, or knows the industry well. Doing this ensures there won’t be as many knowledge gaps when older generations leave the workforce.

As for partnership opportunities, look for ways your company can partner with organizations to increase diversity or prospect applicants. Many companies are looking to get qualified minorities jobs. Research some in your area. Doing this once again shows your employees you’re committed to workplace diversity.


Provide Floating Holidays and Ample Time Off

Not everyone in your company celebrates the holidays as you. As a way to promote diversity, give your employees floating holidays. Because different holidays sometimes fall on weekdays, it gives your employees the chance to take the day off from work to celebrate their holiday. It also shows them and others surrounding the employee that you value diversity and gives you positive word of mouth.


Provide Paid Parental Leave

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 14 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave. While some states are working towards providing families with paid leave, there is still plenty of work to be done. Family situations are continually changing. Giving your employees the ability to take care of various family members while still being paid is crucial.


Host Company Days

Company days give your employees to hang out with each other off the job. Whether it’s through a cookout at your house or a rented public space, like a park, having a company day gives your employees the chance to bond off the clock and foster new relationships with each other.


Give Employees Discounts on Popular Attractions

Depending on the size of your company, you may receive discounts on your insurance, whether it’s health insurance or insurance for a fleet of vehicles. You may also be able to give your employees discounted membership or admission to local attractions, like zoos, amusement parks, or museums. Allowing your employees and their families to take advantage of local attractions can boost their morale and may lead to better performance on the job.


As an employer, you have plenty of options to ensure happy employees. You also set the tone when it comes to what goes on during work hours. Showing commitment to your mission and values encourages your employees to the same, again letting them be happier.

support your employees' financial wellness

Support Your Employees’ Financial Wellness

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Sure, you give your employees a paycheck and, ideally, insurance benefits. But sometimes, employees need more than that. Financial wellness is one of the most important things you can offer your employees. 

According to a 2015 report from the Federal Reserve, 76 million Americans either struggle to get by or are just getting by. As an employer, that should worry you. After all, there is a manufacturing labor shortage. If your employees aren’t financially well, they may jump at the opportunity to take on a higher paying job. Showing your employees you want to help them thrive, even outside of work, goes a long way.

PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that Millennials and Generation X are less likely to change jobs if a company cares about their financial well-being. Offering some financial wellness program can retain your employees. It can also be a useful recruiting tool.


What Kinds of Programs Should You Offer?

Financial wellness programs take many forms. Some of the more common are student loan repayment, 401(k) contributions, credit monitoring programs, and flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts. Many employers also offer financial education. 

Student Loan Repayment

Forbes reported in February 2019 that current student loan debt is over $1 trillion. Student loan repayment perks are highly attractive to job seekers. You might choose to offer repayment perks after a particular period of time with the company, increasing your retention rates.

401(k) Contributions

Some of them aren’t able to cover an emergency and have already had to dip into retirement funds. Others are unable to think about retirement at all. By offering 401(k) options or matching contributions, you can ensure your employees’ financial freedom and future. They will carry around less stress, making them more productive employees.

Credit Monitoring Programs

A good credit score affects a person’s ability to secure a loan, mortgage, credit cards, and many other things. With rising concerns about identity theft, people have another compelling reason to keep an eye on their credit report. This perk can cost you a minimal amount but make a big difference in an employee’s life.

Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts

FSAs and HSAs are both tax advantage accounts and can affect your employees’ taxable income. Depending on the type of account, some of the money rolls over to the next year, while other times the money must be used or forfeited. If you offer matching, it can help your employees cover unexpected expenses, ensuring both financial and physical wellness.

Showcase the different options to your employees and find out which ones they are more receptive to.


Financial Education

If you’re a smaller company, or already struggling with strained resources, the idea of helping pay down student loans or contribute to a retirement fund may seem out of reach. A relatively low-cost, high value option is to focus on financial education for employees. Many companies are offering this opportunity.

You might bring in a professional to speak to your team. Look for a local accountant, financial planner, or mortgage broker, for example, to give a presentation on their area of expertise. Another option is to look for online, sometimes free, courses that you can encourage employees to take. Reward them for completing these learning experiences with something as simple as an extended lunch break or as generous as a bonus. Tailor the experience to the needs of your company.

Financial wellness is vital to your employees, and it should be for you as well. Financial wellness reduces stress, leading to a better night’s sleep. The better night’s sleep leads to a better workday.

manufacturing labor shortage

Tackling the Manufacturing Labor Shortage

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If you work in manufacturing, we don’t have to tell you that the industry is facing a labor shortage. You know about the high number of Baby Boomers retiring from the workforce. But the shortage goes beyond that important factor. A skills shortage is facing younger workers entering the workforce. All of this is going to affect recruiting methods for younger workers in the future. Attracting talent is hard. But, there is something you can do. Offering insurance benefits can help you stay competitive in an already competitive workforce.


What to Consider When Choosing Insurance

Different generations expect different things from their insurance packages. Finding a package that benefits everyone is hard but possible. Your employees know what they want when it comes to insurance. Listen to them to try and find a flexible option.

Despite the differences between generational insurance needs, there are commonalities. How you market those everyday needs is what attracts new talent to help shrink the labor gap. Since we work with numerous insurers, we can help you compare.

Insurance as a Recruiting Tool

The skills shortage makes it hard to recruit new employees. An insurance plan provides an attractive incentive to potential new hires. It also helps with retention. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 46 percent say insurance is the deciding — or even positive — influence in choosing a job. Additionally, 56 percent of employees say insurance from their employers is how they decide to stay with their current company.

How Insurance Helps Business

Unless you’re in the state of Hawaii, you aren’t obligated to provide health insurance to your employees. However, most companies try to offer some insurance and benefits package. Today’s workforce is competitive. By offering the best insurance packages for your employees, your business will run more efficiently. You will save on recruiting and onboarding costs. And, if someone does get sick or injured, you know they can afford care so that they can return to work as quickly as possible.


Benefits of Offering Insurance Packages

It’s hard to please everyone. But by offering insurance packages, you’re providing benefits into the workplace that can help make you more attractive and competitive in the workplace.

More Employees Enrolled Means Lower Costs

It seems counter-intuitive, but the more employees enrolled in an insurance program means you spend less on insurance costs overall. Offering insurance to your employees can serve as a tax break for your business, helping you save money in the long run.

Improves Office Morale and Decreases Absenteeism

A company functions well if employees perform at peak performance. When employees have an insurance package, they’re more likely to take better care of themselves. When people take better care of themselves, they’re less likely to get sick. This results in better work attendance, which allows your company to fire on all cylinders.

Employees Expect Insurance Benefits

While they may not enjoy the research involved in getting insurance, most people like having insurance. That way, should something happen to their health or anything else, they have a little bit of coverage and protection. FindLaw reports that some employees are okay with a lower salary if it means they’re getting some insurance coverage.


At Booker Insurance, we offer a variety of services for all your insurance needs, whether it’s transportation or personal insurance. View our options on our website.

insurance premiums

How Much of Your Employees’ Premiums Should You Cover?

By | Employee Benefits, Insurance Insights | No Comments

Many businesses want to offer better medical benefits and job incentives for their employees but aren’t sure how they compare with the competition. How much to contribute toward your employees’ premiums is a common question from business owners.

Let’s take a look at some statistics and guidelines you can follow to make your company’s health plan a good value that’s also attractive to employees.


Employer Premium Contribution Trends

There are many variables, so it’s impossible to give a one-size-fits-all approach to covering employee premiums. However, there are some great resources available, such as the annual Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Benefits Survey.

The KFF survey gives employers a good sense of trends in employer contributions. Something to keep in mind is the difference in the size of these businesses, as well as geographic location.

These highlights may help you get started:

In 2016, employers contributed an average of 82% at $5,306 for single coverage. For family coverage, employers covered 71% at $12,865 on average.

In 2017, employers again contributed an average of 82% for single coverage, at $5,477. Also, for family coverage, employers covered 70% at $13,049.

In 2018, employers contributed an average of 82% at $6,896 for single coverage. For family coverage, employers covered 71% at $19,616.

Keep in mind that these figures are for all plan types combined. For example, there will be some variations when comparing HMOs vs. PPOs.

You’ll notice that employers are continuing to spend similar amounts on employees’ health insurance year over year. If you are paying anything less than these percentages, you may have to adjust to stay competitive for employee retention and hiring.


Large vs. Small Employers

According to the 2018 KFF survey, small employers (3-199 employees) usually contribute less for family coverage. The averages for small employers premium coverage in 2018 are 82% for singles and 62% for families.

By comparison, large employers spend the same for single coverage but more for families at 71%. Also, the average for all employers, regardless of size, is 67% premium coverage.

This can be chalked up to cost. Smaller businesses cannot afford as much as their larger counterparts. Health insurance costs continue to increase, and maintaining the same coverage has become increasingly challenging for all businesses. A common approach to maintain coverage at manageable expenses is to increase employee cost-sharing for family plans.


Cost-Saving Alternatives

Another option for small businesses to cope with rising health insurance costs is to provide a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). This plan allows employers to decide their contribution for an allowance paid towards employee’s individually purchased health insurance premiums and is often more affordable for small businesses.

There are some general rules to adhere to, such as the Affordable Care Act‘s (ACA) affordability standards. This law states that the lowest-priced individual plan offered by employers must cost 9.56% or less of the employee’s household income. That includes other family members contributions to the household income.

Premium Coverage by Industry

A good strategy when deciding how much to contribute to your employee’s premiums is to compare what other companies in your industry are offering in your area. It may be okay to offer less if you have additional incentives, but if you can afford to, it would most likely help your recruitment and retention rates to spend a little more than the local competition.

Some industries may spend more or less on their employee’s premiums due to the variance in other expenses such as their general liability policy. For example, manufacturers and contractors spend more on general liability insurance than the vast majority of different industries. This is due to the high risk of doing work that involves someone else’s property.

Also, the larger the manufacturing company, the more they will end up paying for workers compensation. These are just some of the factors involved in determining a health insurance and benefits budget for a company in a specific industry.

The significant differences among premium coverage in any industry are the size of the businesses. Both large and small tend to pay the same for individual coverage but significantly differ on family coverage – the more expensive premium. Alternatives to traditional health insurance coverage such as a reimbursement strategy (HRA) is becoming more popular during the recent rise of insurance costs.


Take a look at your current employee premium coverage and compare it against your competitors. If you need help deciding what the right amount to spend is or alternative strategies to save on cost and still offer good coverage for your employee’s, contact a benefits specialist at Brooker Insurance at 440-238-5454. We are experts at finding the appropriate target premium for your unique business’ needs.


Millennial view on health insurance

Different Generations’ Expectations for Group Health Insurance

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When you set out to provide benefits to your employees, it’s important to understand their point of view. The different generations currently in the workforce — Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials — each have different views on health care and health insurance. It can be a challenge to find a group health insurance plan that’s right for everyone.

Keep in mind, no one likes being stereotyped. There are stereotypes about each generation, like Millennials are lazy and Baby Boomers don’t like technology. Set these aside to make an informed decision about health benefits. Get the facts on each generation’s preferences before you jump to conclusions. We also suggest that you ask your own employees what they value most, as every company is different.


Baby Boomer View on Health Insurance

Baby Boomers are the generation starting to retire from the workforce now. They tend to view healthcare more traditionally. They want everything related to their healthcare to be in one place, whether it’s for a doctor’s visit, lab work that needs completing, or any other medical services they need.

When it comes to them choosing a health insurance plan, they rely heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations. If they hear that someone prefers one plan compared to another, they’ll be more likely to choose the plan better received by their friends and coworkers. Because they may potentially have more healthcare problems in the future, they’re going to want a plan with plenty of coverage.


Generation X View on Health Insurance

Members of the Gen X generation tend to look up anything related to their medical care digitally compared to the baby boomer generation, but less than Millennials. StatNews reports that they’re also in a unique position because they may be caring for their aging parents as well as their children, who may range from school-aged to teens.

Gen X prefers convenient access to healthcare, whether it’s going to an actual doctor’s office or going to a convenient clinic, so their insurance plans will most likely want to include more generalized rules about where they can receive their care. Also, because this generation is starting to get their preventative screenings, they will need more coverage based on which kind of screening they are receiving.


Millennial View on Health Insurance

Because the millennial generation is considered digital natives, they view healthcare as something that should be somewhat digital, whether that’s using the internet to figure out symptoms or video chatting with a doctor instead of going into the office. Just like Gen X, they prefer an ease of access to healthcare. However, unlike previous generations, Millennials are less likely to have a primary care physician.

When it comes to choosing among plans, Millennials want to see everything that’s considered so they can compare and make the best decisions. They also want to see highlights of benefits offered in the plans in a technological setting.


Common Threads Among Generations

Even though the different generations want and need different things from their health insurance plans, there are still commonalities they all want.


Quality Care

Even though the different generations have different needs when it comes to care, they all want quality care, whether it’s in-person care or video chat care. Regardless of age, people want the best care possible, and they want to feel like their needs are heard. Having quality care from their healthcare provider is going to keep them coming back, as most generations are very brand loyal.


Convenience of Care

No one wants to wait around for care if there is a pressing health matter. Having different options to see a doctor — like urgent care or care clinics in grocery stores — where they don’t need an appointment or can go in after-hours is viewed favorably across multiple generations.


Transparent Pricing

No one likes to spend money on something unexpected, and some view the healthcare industry as perpetrators of unanticipated medical costs. Members of the different generations like knowing all their healthcare costs upfront, even if they have extra income that would allow them to pay pop up medical costs.

Take the time to work with a broker and find the plan that fits your company best. The more people you get to sign up for group health care, the less expensive the overall insurance will cost.

insurance costs go down with higher enrollment

Insurance Costs Go Down with Higher Enrollment

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Health insurance costs continue to rise. According to a recent Gallup survey, more than three-quarters of Americans expect their prices to increase even more in the next two years. Those statistics can scare some employers from wanting to provide health insurance benefits, but you need them now more than ever.

Can a group health insurance plan for your business can lower costs for everyone? You bet! Whether you’re a mom and pop operation, or an enterprise business with employees, a group plan can save you money.


Upsides for Both Business Owners and Employees

Are your employees seeking out the care they need to happily and safely perform their jobs? According to Gallup, a significant number of Americans are deferring care, forgoing care altogether, or borrowing money to get it.

Helping them get the care they need can actually improve worker performance, reduce sick days and boost morale. Plus, preventive health care costs can stave off more expensive treatments or even disability costs down the road.

Other benefits include:

– Receiving tax credits and other tax benefits.

– Job satisfaction and improved recruiting.

– Healthier employees who are more productive.

– Increased job security.


Group Health Plans for Small Businesses

Small business owners can save too. A small business can be up to 100 employees. The more employees you have, the more you save, and even going from one person to two means savings. Premiums are 10 percent lower per person, on average, with 40 percent lower deductibles versus individual enrollment.

Health insurance for business owners goes to work for you, bringing rewards in real dividends.

Group plans, which include individual’s family members, are usually more affordable for employees and offer more extensive coverage. You can split up premiums with employees.


What’s the Tax Credit?

The SHOP tax credit applies if you have fewer than 25 full-time employees and offer health insurance to all of them. You can receive up to 50% off your contributions toward employee premiums. This will drastically reduce the cost of providing benefits to employees.

You can even set up your health insurance so employees can pay their premiums with pre-tax money. When you provide benefits and cash-saving solutions, you will have happier employees.

Another option to consider for group savings is partially self-funded coverage. As an employer, you cover some of the potential cost for employees’ medical care every year. The trade-off is that you’ll receive a sizable refund at the end of each year if those costs are lower than forecast.

This is an excellent option for employers with young and healthy employees that rarely visit the doctor.

Did you know that a mid-sized small business (50-99 employees) can typically negotiate for a lower premium? Depending on the size of your business, you may have some leverage with your premium payments.


Looking for Profitability

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Bill Brooker, Commercial Account Executive, discusses his interactions with a commercial customer in regard to an insurance review of the coverage on one of their large office buildings. The review resulted in the realization that the business contents, which was currently being insured by the business policy, was being double-covered by their building policy. In only about ten minutes time, Bill was able to recommend changes which would result in approximately a $10,000 premium savings each year.
The main point is one of profitability. At Brooker Insurance, our goal is to help you manage your risk in a way that not only maximizes your coverage, but also considers your long-term profitability. We highly encourage you to take the time to have a review of your insurance policies and the associated coverages at least every three to five years. As an independent agent, we value the opportunity to shop on behalf of our clients in order to keep their insurance costs as low as possible, while still maintaining proper coverage.
Employee benefits is another place to evaluate costs and look for options to help keep your bottom line healthy. The ever-changing landscape of healthcare regulations and benefits systems means that frequent reviews are always valuable.
At the end of the day, one of our main goals as an insurance agency is to help your company remain strong and profitable!

“Our goal is to help you manage your risk in a way that not only maximizes your coverage, but also considers your long-term profitability.”