We’re too small. We can’t really commit more time and resources (including financial resources) than we do now. We want to maintain our benefits at the level they now are without incurring more costs. There’s not a lot available from providers.

These are some of the most common reasons small businesses point to for why they can’t offer flexible benefit plans.

The truth is, making your benefits plan more flexible is as difficult (or easy) or as expensive (or cost effective) as you want to make it. There are options. Maybe it’s time to take another look.

A flexible benefits plan simply means that you are giving your employees some choice . Incorporating flexible elements to a plan or offering a flex plan can provide a competitive advantage for attracting and retaining employees for a small business sponsors – making it a huge draw to employees.

The more you customize your plan, the greater the expense. Small businesses can meet employee demand by staying away from extensive customization and not turning their plan into a full-blown flex plan. It’s pretty easy to be innovative with your plans without breaking the bank, especially if you broaden how you think about benefits. These days, it’s as much about wellness as “health” – and flex plans are where the two easily converge.

A primary type of flexible benefits plan for small businesses is the Health Care Spending Account (HCSA). With an HCSA, each employee is given a set amount to spend annually as they wish on a list of pre-approved benefits, as determined by the Canada Revenue Agency. These work for any size business, and they’re easy to administer.

Another option, though, is the Taxable Spending Account (TSA). This reimburses eligible expenses that aren’t covered through traditional group benefits plans. The amount allocated for each plan is a defined amount set by the plan sponsor – and it’s taxable – but typically, the tax implication is less than the actual expenditure.

Spending accounts are an ideal way for employers to clearly define and better predict benefit costs while responding to growing demand by employees for the kinds of flexible benefits that fall under this umbrella. These span health related services like smoking cessation and weight management programs, fitness activities (memberships and fees), and services related to work/life balance.  They can either stand on their own, or complement a more traditional benefits program.

As the next generation continues to push for flexible benefits, small companies need to respond in a way that ensures everyone wins. There are more options out there than you think. It’s our job as benefits consultants to serve as your guide. Can we talk?