Small business owners know that their financial plan is highly contingent upon their employees, who many describe as the lifeblood of a company’s economic strength. In other words, without them, the goals that entrepreneurs set out to achieve wouldn’t be possible.

It’s with this in mind that many business owners this year plan on focusing on the things that exemplify why they’re a tremendous asset.

The Workforce Institute recently released its list of the Top Five Workplace Trends for 2015. Two of the five had to do with the employee – namely, how workers are a reliable resource and what small business owners can do to adjust to the coming “generational shift” in the workforce.

“Profitable organizations have learned that excellent financial returns do not have to come at the expense of the employee,” the Workforce Institute stated in its trends report. “Research shows that employees – especially the front line, hourly workforce should be seen as an asset, not a cost.”

The employee management firm added that organizations can show their appreciation for employees by investing in their futures, helping to increase employee engagement, which ultimately leads to a satisfied customer.

The other employee focus – the shift in generations – is centered on baby boomers, many of whom are entering or have already entered retirement. As they exit the working world, replacing them are millennials, men and women in their 20s and 30s.

“Millennials will take on management positions for the first time,” the 2015 workplace trend report stated. “Talent retention and career development will be key in 2015 as organizations train new managers while working to simultaneously shrink the skills gap and hold onto the knowledge assets of a retiring workforce.”

Employee benefits help strengthens health, retention rates
One of the ways in which business owners show their appreciation for their staff is through employee benefits. Approximately 98 percent of organizations offer some type of health care coverage to their full-time workers, according to statistics from the Society for Human Resource Management.

“Offering health benefits is critical to employee recruitment and retention,” said Bruce Elliott, manager of compensation and benefits at SHRM. “However, the rising cost of health benefits, especially health insurance, has made it challenging for some employers to continue offering it. Because of that, employers are evaluating all their benefits and making adjustments.”

Health insurance has been a major focus for employers since the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which requires all financially capable adults to purchase coverage. The government has made tax credits available to small business owners who would like to offer insurance so they can purchase plans affordably. Businesses that have fewer than 50 full-time workers on staff are immune from the employer mandate.

In addition to benefits, something else that improves retention and demonstrates why employees are an asset is by paying the most valuable workers a competitive salary. A recent study found that financial and physical wellness often go hand-in-hand. In the study’s poll of approximately 1,400 consumers who had made New Year’s resolutions, 8 in 10 indicated that when their finances were in a good position, it was easier for them to accomplish other goals, like getting more physically fit. The reverse was true as well, as two-thirds of respondents who felt like they were in good shape physically were satisfied with their financial well-being.

This study suggests that employee benefits and workplace wellness programs can help keep workers satisfied, helping to improve retention and worker engagement.