Creative Benefits for Employees

Creative Benefits for Employees

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

I’m often asked, “Eric, what employee benefits should I be offering?”

As the case with almost everything in the insurance world, my answer is “it depends.”

Because the world of employee benefits is so complex, I invited Ernie Pearson of Aflac to have a conversation with me surrounding some of the more common problems that he hears from tree care owners when talking about benefits.

Problem: We are constantly understaffed and have a hard time retaining the good employees we do have.

Solution: In a very competitive hiring market with low unemployment a business needs all the tools that it can to set it apart from its competition. Quite often people are looking for a job opportunity that provides a solid benefits program and positive working environment to one that may offer a little more money.


Problem: My business is too small to qualify for group plans and I can’t afford it.

Solution: Most plans only need 3 people to establish a group and many of the plans cost less than $2 per day. Some benefits can also be offered completely voluntarily to the employees with nothing but some minor administrative time as a cost to the business. Plans can also be sold direct without the need for an employer group to be established.


Problem: I already offer health care and dental insurance so how can supplemental benefits help my business?

Solution: With rising health care costs and often high out of pocket costs for affordable plans, supplemental benefits offer options to help pay for those expenses with locked in rates. Not only that, it can allow you to scale back to a more affordable plan and provide benefits to pay those deductibles with often a lower cost to the business. Also, these supplemental plans can include a variety of things that aren’t covered under some major medical insurance policies.


Problem: One of my biggest concerns is how to keep my workers compensation rate in check.

Solution: Because tree care companies have a high potential for on-the-job injuries, they can benefit greatly from offering short term disability paired with a supplemental accident plan. The short term disability offers employees an option to collect some money in the event of an off-the-job injury without becoming a liability or “Monday morning workers compensation claim” if they come to work hurt. An accident plan will pay for injuries that happen both on and off the job, providing employees quick money in their pocket to help cover those immediate incidental costs that arise.


Problem: My employees aren’t interested in benefits, all they want is more money.

Solution: Without properly educating employees on what our benefits can do for them, they almost always want more money today. Tailoring your benefit plans specifically to the needs of each employee, will provide solutions to the gaps in their insurance and still allow them to decline if that’s what they choose. As far as more money goes, statistically speaking, employees only remember a raise for about 24 hours.


So get creative when looking at employee benefits as there is no one-size fits all answer for the benefit question! If you have further questions regarding what employee benefits you should be looking, contact an ArboRisk team member today or contact Ernie Pearson directly at 920-858-7505 or [email protected].

Personality Testing for Employers

Personality Testing For Employers

How many times have you heard someone say, “I hire for personality not skills”? It’s a common theme amongst many owners and managers even in skilled labor industries like tree care world. So what does that mean and why are they doing it?


The simple response that you will hear is that skills can be taught, personality cannot. I agree with this thought process and want to give you an article devoted to figuring out what personalities you have currently and what type you’d like to build your team around.


Find the Right Tool – Just like using the proper sized saw for a removal job, the first step is to commit to using a tool to help identify key characteristics that you want to see in your team members. There are many personality tests on the market today, however, my favorite one is True Colors. True Colors is a simple personality test that helps highlight how individuals communicate and what they value most which in turn helps create a better team atmosphere within your organization.


I first was introduced to the True Colors system while attending a Leadership Workshop for the ISA a few years ago. All of the participants at the workshop took the short test and were split up into groups based on our colors. It was incredible to see how accurate the simple test was at identifying our core personalities. Throughout the workshop, we wore nametags that had our primary color listed. It helped all of us communicate much better and understand where the other party was coming from when discussing certain topics. Because I found it so powerful, I brought it back to the Wisconsin Arborist Association to do with our Board Members and internally for my team at my agency. Knowing how others communicate has been a tremendous help to accomplishing any of our goals.


Test Your Current Staff – Once you choose which tool you will use, have your current employees take the profile and discuss the results with each of them individually. What did you learn about your top performers? Are there common traits amongst the best within your team? What skills does your team lack as a whole? Learning from these tests will help you identify what type of person you want to hire next. It also can help you recognize if you have someone in the wrong role. Perhaps, one of your production climbers would be better suited as a sales person because of their personality. Or maybe the opposite, a person on the sales team would be better fit for technical work like consulting or plant health care. Understanding who you have on your team and how they interact with others is an enormous benefit to you as the leader of the organization.


Use with Interviewees – Lastly, when you are looking to bring in someone to your team, have them take the same test that the rest of the team has. Make sure that their personality will fit the position that they are applying for. Too often in the tree care industry, owner’s hire anybody with a pulse and a driver’s license. This will only do one thing; set up the business and new employee for future pain and trouble when personalities clash and internal issues arise that would have been prevented if they were never hired.


Getting the right person on your team is difficult to do, however, using personality tests can be a great tool for you. And because there always seems to be a shortage of potential employees, check out our article on the 5 Hiring Hotspots to get some ideas on how to start recruiting top notch talent.


Written by: Eric Petersen