The increasingly diverse work force will demand benefits plans that adapt to individual needs, allowing employees to spend their benefits dollars as it suits them. Consequently, more companies are offering flexible benefits plans to compete for the best workers.

Large companies have led the way in use of flex programs, but as such programs become simpler to administer, they look increasingly attractive to small businesses. A 1993 survey in Wyatt Comparison by benefits consultancy the Wyatt Co. in Washington, D.C., notes that large corporations start flex plans mainly to control costs, but smaller companies do so mainly to offer choices to their workers.

Anyone who's interested can investigate flexible plans for free. The Segal Co. (212-251-5029), a national benefits consulting firm, has published a 28-page white paper, "Flexible Benefits for the Small Organization: Why Flex Plans Are Not Just for Large Corporations," which outlines the different types of plans and addresses their pros and cons.

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