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  • David Lawrence

No HR Department? Let's talk about benefit costs, finding talent, and happy employees.

Updated: Jul 25


How can I calculate benefits costs to add to a budget/forecast?

I want to offer these benefits but I am unsure of the price.

A topic of interest in an interview is always what benefits your company has to offer. Believe it or not, this can be a make-or-break situation whether someone elects to take the position. Without fully understanding its impact on your business, some might view HR as just another expense – a necessary evil. Most candidates see benefits as their future livelihood. For example, many employees seek a sense of security from their employer by way of what benefits are offered. People with children, a spouse, or a relative that resides in the household look for benefits, not only for themselves but for their loved ones as well.

We are witnessing a shift in the power dynamic between candidates and employers. The demand to fill vacant positions right now is extremely competitive. If you want to hire the best-qualified employees, the right benefits package needs to catch the eye of potential candidates. If done correctly, you can get candidates in the door before they consider other offers.

One way to make the most of your benefits is to have a clear understanding of your budget, and how to go about setting up a competitive benefits package that's appealing to the market. Our job at Primetrics is to assist in making that picture clear. We do not want this to create more stress during the recruiting process. We will help you understand the basics of the benefits package, how a budgeted cost is calculated, and the competitiveness of your benefits within your region.



How do I know I am complying with local and federal laws?

I am adding my first employee and I want to make sure I’m following the rules correctly.

No company wants to be surprised by compliance issues because they were not informed. To help reduce the risk of a potential issue, we recommend that the company become familiar with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal laws, and the local compliance organization for the State in which the company resides. For Oregon businesses, in particular, that would be the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). Most agencies welcome questions and offer assistance when queried. Primetrics can also help with our internal certified HR professionals.


How do I create an HR Manual? I need one, but I don't know how to get started.

An HR manual sets the tone for your company. A few key points to be highlighted are the company's values, mission, and expectations. A great book to help in this area is, "Traction," by Gino Wickman. It serves as a guide in understanding a business's core values and the goals a business sets for itself. Once a business has a clear understanding of its identity and direction, drafting an HR manual that encompasses these values becomes less challenging. A business will not only have a strong platform to hold its employees accountable but it will also clarify the company's responsibilities to its employees.

The previous paragraph highlights all the HR Manual prework to be done. Once the prework has been completed, drafting this complex document is the real challenge. How does one encompass every single staff requirement to be clear and concise in one document? The HR manual should be a working document. As your company grows, the document will grow and transition as well, making additions and modifications should be made annually.

Many times, HR firms have most of the legal items and language on hand and can help you tailor the documents for your needs. The right team will take the time to understand you, and your business needs.


How do I know if my employees are happy working here?

I want to retain the best employees and get the right people in the right seats.

There are several ideas for how to retain employees. The simplest route is to just ask. Surveys may seem obvious, but they work. You most likely have some very dedicated and hard-working employees. Find out what motivates them. Create an outline to highlight strengths exhibited throughout the company, but also outline areas in need of improvement. With a strong internal structure, an employee should feel confident and successful in their role. If they do not, meet with them one-on-one and find out what resources they need to be successful and feel more confident. In some cases, there will not be a clear-cut answer, but you may uncover some internal fractures in your business that can be repaired and healed.

Some ways to do this:

  • Performance management tools

  • Routine check-in/evaluation (one-on-ones)

  • Training/mentoring classes

  • Quarterly Surveys (areas of improvement)

  • Weekly staff meetings/Daily touchpoint


Am I searching the right area for candidates?

How do I know I am paying my employees the right wage?

"I think this is the right wage for this position, what do you think?"

There is a lot of complexity when determining the pay range for a new position. To do so correctly, take a moment and research similar job titles, salary ranges within your area, and common benefits packages. This information will tell you a significant portion of what you need to know for your next hire. One way to accomplish these tasks consistently is by developing a job template. In doing so, you can have a better understanding of how to attract quality candidates.

As your business continues to grow, track all this information. This will save you so much time in the future. Simultaneously, you should keep an eye on industry trends. Salary ranges do change over time, so keeping up with your local area information is very important. Again, I use the job market today as an example. Trimet, the largest transportation entity in Portland, OR recently increased its starting pay by 10 percent. This is partly due to the lack of transit drivers the company has currently, but also reflects the competitive job market today. At face value, this may not seem significant but a trend nationwide has many organizations raising their starting pay for specific positions. This, in effect, has an impact on the whole job market.