Bank on it Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2007

Most employers offer employees a variety of benefits, from health and dental insurance to 401(k)s and other retirement plans. The cost of many of these benefits is charged to employees, but many companies, including Enerco Group Inc., are beginning to implement other benefit programs that cost employees nothing.

Cleveland-based Enerco, which manufactures portable wall-mounted heaters and other heating devices, implemented an employee benefits program through National City Bank about 15 years ago, after a bank employee spoke with the company about the work perks program and how it could benefit the company and its employees.

“He thought that would be great, just to help with the whole flow of paperwork,” says Lelia Coleman, Enerco’s human resources coordinator.

The work perks program includes a free checking account for all employees, with direct deposit set up for their paychecks. Employees also receive discounts on other banking services, including ATM fees, safe deposit boxes, loans and mortgages.

Coleman says it is easy for other companies to find similar benefit programs to implement into their business.

“If you have a great relationship with your bank, you can sit down and talk to them and ask what they could do to help you to move forward and have these great benefits,” Coleman says.

Most companies offer direct deposit to employees, and at Enerco, it’s the only option — ensuring employees have cash available at the earliest possible time. And a banking benefits program could also be an incentive in companies where the employees are not too keen on setting up direct deposit.

An employee benefits program can benefit your company, as well as your employees.

“Reconciling the payroll account is a lot easier; it doesn’t even have to happen anymore because everything just clears that day,” Coleman says. “Also the ease of using it. You can open a checking account as I’m sitting here at the desk with an employee without them having to take time out of their busy day and go to the bank. It’s so easy for us and the employee.”

Coleman says response to the program has been great. Nearly all of Enerco’s 93 employees are enrolled in the work perks program.

Enerco’s program has been updated quite a bit since its inception 15 years ago. The company receives regular communication from National City about additions to the plan, so employees can take advantage of them, and work perks coordinators visit companies enrolled in the program every few years to talk to new employees and present information on new benefits.

Coleman says having an employee benefits program has made a big impact on how Enerco employees bank, and implementing one at your own company can be as simple as talking to your bank about finding a program or talking to other companies to see what type of programs they use and how their programs run.

HOW TO REACH: Enerco Group Inc., (216) 916-3000 or www.enerco.com

Finding the right benefits program

Implementing an employee benefits program is something all companies should do, says Todd Wade, vice president in National City Bank’s commercial banking group.

“It is simple, there’s no cost to it, and it’s a benefit to employees,” he says.

Implementing a program is good for the company because unlike benefits, such as health care, there is no cost to the employer, which Wade says, is especially important with the rising cost of health care packages.

“Any time an employer hears something as far as a benefit that doesn’t cost them anything, I think that is appealing,” he says.

According to Wade, there are several questions companies should ask when trying to find the right employee benefits program.

  • Will the bank make it easy for employees to participate? This includes ongoing communication through on-site visits and offering the ability to open accounts at the workplace.

  • Are there any size, participation or minimum balance requirements for the program?

  • What is the breadth of the product offering? What are the advantages of that particular program?

  • Do employees see the value in participating in the program and in the information provided from the bank on products and services?

  • Is the program easy to administer? Companies should consider how they want to provide ongoing information to employees, such as through on-site visits from the bank or by distributing materials directly to employees.

Wade also recommends companies revisit the program every few years to give new employees a chance to learn about and enroll in it.

HOW TO REACH: National City Bank, (216) 222-2000 or www.nationalcity.com