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How SDN Communications' employee benefits stand out from the pack

There are a lot of things to consider when accepting a new job — salary, of course, workplace culture and potential for growth, to name a few.

But benefits are quickly moving up the list as a major selling point for companies that want to attract workers in a low-unemployment environment.

At SDN Communications, generous benefits have always been significant in attracting and retaining employees.

“The average tenure of an SDN employee is eight years, and our competitive pay and generous benefits are a big reason why,” SDN Communications CEO Ryan Punt said. “Offering a strong 401(k) plan that’s better than a company match and comprehensive health insurance as well as other unique perks aren’t just about fulfilling an obligation; it's about investing in our team's future and ensuring their peace of mind.”

From free dental and vision to a hefty 401(k) contribution and other perks such as access to a corporate chaplain and a free big-box store membership, here’s what SDN offers its employees:

List of five benefits for employees at SDN Communications

Rewarding employees for choosing high-deductible plan

SDN’s healthcare coverage is generous when compared to other companies. With both the traditional and high-deductible plan, SDN contributes 70% of the premiums.

“I’ve never worked for a company that paid more than half,” SDN Director of Human Resources Amy Preator said.

But perhaps even more impressive is the company’s contribution to employee HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) if they take the high-deductible plan.

SDN will give $1,339 to employee plans and $4,111 to family plans to help defer the out-of-pocket costs associated with a high-deductible plan. Once families reach the $7,000 deductible, the plan will pay 100% of all healthcare costs from that point forward for the calendar year. So that means that if you have a high-deductible family plan, the most you will have to pay for eligible healthcare expenses in a calendar year is $2,900.

“It is an incentive for people to look at a higher deductible plan and be more cost-conscious about how they use their medical care,” SDN Communications Director of Human Resources Amy Preator said. “You basically have your deductible paid for just by the amount SDN puts into the HSA accounts.”

SDN Communications CEO Ryan Punt, VP of Sales & Marketing Ryan Dutton, VP of Finance Sarah Tuntland and VP of Engineering, Operations and IT Jake VanDewater.
From left, SDN Communications CEO Ryan Punt, VP of Sales & Marketing Ryan Dutton, VP of Finance Sarah Tuntland and VP of Engineering, Operations and IT Jake VanDewater.

Preator said statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation show that SDN’s contributions put their plans in the top 2% for single and top 15% for family coverage. The same report shows that the average HSA contribution to a family plan is $3,000 less than SDN’s.

Free dental and vision coverage

You don’t need to worry about whether to sign up for vision and dental insurance because it’s free for all full-time employees at SDN Communications.

SDN covers 100 percent of the premiums on both vision and dental. For a family, that means SDN’s contribution to your plan is worth more than $3,000 for both.

OUR CULTURE: Learn more about what it's like to work at SDN

“We just wanted to be more generous knowing that employees needed help with costs and that the costs go up every year. We figured this is something we can pay for,” Preator said. “And so why don't we benefit our employees by doing that?”

Personal time off double that of most employers

This is a big one. Most companies give employees two weeks (10 days) of accrued vacation a year when they start. At SDN, staff members can accrue four weeks of paid time off (PTO) per year starting with their first day. After five full years, that goes up to five weeks and six weeks after 10 full years.

A report from Forbes magazine noted that the average American worker receives 11 days of vacation, with an increase to 15 days after five years of service. Employees at SDN start accruing time off much faster. And it’s not just a number. Employees are strongly encouraged to take all their time off, but it does roll over to the next year if you can’t use it.

In addition, an extended illness bank of paid time off helps bridge the gap to long-term disability in the event an employee needs it.

401(k) contribution in a league of its own

Renee Bruggeman, a senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, has seen a lot of different 401(k) plans, but she’s never seen one like SDN’s.

SDN contributes 7.5% of an employee’s salary to their 401(K) every pay period, and the employee doesn’t have to contribute anything. Though they still should!

SDN Communications Director of Human Resources Amy Preator
SDN Communications Director of Human Resources Amy Preator says SDN's worker benefits stand out when compared to other companies.

“I do not know a company that gives 7.5% (without a match),” Bruggeman said. “I’ve never seen that before.”

According to a study by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10% of companies offer more than a 6% match. SDN’s is higher than that, and it’s better than a match.

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“To me, that one adds up quickly, and that's one of those benefits you can actually see. Every single quarter you're thinking, ‘Wow! My account is growing substantially by the amount SDN puts in there,” Preator said.

Go back to school with tuition reimbursement

Several of SDN’s core values encourage employees to learn and grow in their roles. SDN emboldens staffers to innovate and challenge conventional ideas, take initiative and be motivated.

To that end, there are a lot of opportunities for career advancement. In addition to learning on the job, employees (after a year of employment) can go back to school and get reimbursed for their tuition and related expenses up to $5,250 per year.

“If people plan accordingly, they can get additional degrees, and the benefit can be used again the next year,” Preator said.

Other benefit highlights at SDN

Life insurance: Premiums are covered by SDN and include three times the salary of the employee. Spouses ($5,000 benefit) and dependents ($1,000) are also covered.

Bereavement leave: Up to five days per year.

Long-term disability: SDN pays 66.6% of base salary after a 13-week waiting period.

Volunteer time: Employees can help nonprofit organizations and get paid for it for up to five hours a year.

More unique benefits at SDN

SDN has several other perks for employees that stand out:

Chaplain: Sometimes you need someone to talk to. SDN has an on-site chaplain who is available for employees to visit. They can discuss work, family, life and everything in between.

SDN Corporate Care Chaplain John Warden
SDN Corporate Care Chaplain John Warden is in the office once a week to meet with employees.

Costco/Sam's Club membership: SDN reimburses employees for an annual membership to one of the big-box stores in Rapid City and Sioux Falls.

Wellness benefit: Earn up to $750 in bonuses each year based on an optional health assessment that you can put toward a gym membership; Christmas presents or anything you want!

Event tickets: Employees are offered chances to attend concerts and sports at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in the SDN loge box as well as other events such as the Sioux Falls AirShow.