OH NO! It's Already Time to Plan for the 2012 Open Enrollment and the Employee Benefit Choices?
Here it is May and you are just beginning get the flow of questions between your Employees and your Human Resources Department. The CFO is becoming more concerned about costs!
You have to consider Rocking the Boat again if you are making benefit menu changes and shifting costs. Why changes and Shifts? It's usually all about money! Generally it is to better manage a nearly impossible task of balancing cost controls with attracting and keeping the most productive, efficient Employees. Employees often consider the quality and cost of their benefit package as an important part of their paycheck! Believe it or not – Some of your changes can have positive results!
Do You Recall Our Previous Discussion about the Value that a Shift to a Defined Contribution (Def Con) Strategy can Bring to Your Company and the Benefits Menu-Building Team? In my last blog, I showed the value your Company can obtain by fixing costs while providing a robust menu of benefits utilizing a Def Con strategy for health, life, voluntary, and ancillary benefits (not for retirement benefits, in this case). I mentioned that the value accrues to the entire Team – Employers, Managers, Employees/Families, Brokers. There is a positive impact on your existing workforce while having the potential for better attracting new Employees! Let's check Def Con out:
▪ The CFO happily can Stabilize and Budget Benefit Costs for this year and into the
▪ The Benefits Broker(s), working with HR, identifies Plans, Programs, and Services that
more efficiently and cost-effectively meet the needs expressed by the Employees and their
Families. These help positively influence his/her business relationship with the Company.
▪ The HR Department implements and supports a competitive menu of Plans, Programs and Services to attract and retain productive Employees.
Who Should Be Part of the Decision-Making Team? Historically the Team included the CFO, HR, Broker(s), and possibly a TPA and Enrollment Company. Working together the goal was to provide the Company a solution for controlling costs while attracting and retaining productive Employees. But to accomplish these goals, we often leave out the an important part of the Team: The Voice of the Employees and their Families in self-identifying the benefits which they see as the most valuable to them! Without Their Input – The Plan is Destined for Failure!
With Participation, supported by Education and Communication, Employees “Get It”. Most Employees understand that cost-sharing with their Company for benefit protection is a part our modern employment package. Employees do not buy into sharing the cost without a voice in the Choice of Benefits.
Do Employees Really Value the Benefit Choices You are Offering? The answer can be YES When Benefits are imposed on Employees by the “Team” -- the CFO, HR, and Broker—without the input of Employees, the value of the Company's Invested Benefit Dollars can be seriously threatened or wasted. How? Unhappy Employees can translate into unrest, lower productivity, and turnover! .
Is there a Win-Win-Win Benefits Opportunity? Yes – The implementation of a Def Con Strategy and Plan!
For the CFO: Controlled CostsGreater Productivity
For the Broker: Becomes a Trusted AdvisorIncreased Revenue
For Employees: Greater ChoiceBetter Benefits
What's the Solution? By now it should be obvious: Include Employee input as part of the Menu-Building Team. Here are some “how to” strategies to elicit Employee input and support in identifying the types of benefits they and their families need. This assumes an understanding that there will be some company cost-sharing within a payroll deduction format. You might find it helpful to utilize more than one of these suggestions:
An Employee Benefits Committee (For larger Employers). The Committee form often is compatible with your Company's existing mechanics for eliciting Employee feedback. Alternatively it might look something like this: Committee Members who report to HR are elected by Employees on a rotating basis from year-to-year. These Members collect information during working hours from a specific group of Employees utilizing one or more of the following: surveys; conversations; stories about the effectiveness of the current benefit package with respect to access, care, claim filing and payment, follow-up, etc.; and other devices comfortable for gathering this intel. The Committee presents their findings at specified intervals to HR and there is discussion. The Broker(s) can act as an intermediary! What are the Results? Employees feel empowered and respected as their needs are discussed and addressed; they tend to operate more efficiently and productively in their jobs.
Surveys. HR issues surveys at several scheduled times during the year to identify benefit needs and issues associated with the current benefit plan. Surveys would be passed out by Managers or conducted online with the Managers encouragement and oversight for collection. To enhance the process, HR trains Managers in their role to understand that these efforts at distribution and participation lead to increased productivity and helps each Manager's metrics during their regular performance reviews.
CFO Participation. The CFO crunches the numbers and then becomes an active, visible Employee communicator, explaining the financial aspects of cost-sharing and the potential to create equitable, mutually affordable benefit risk protection for each employee and his/her family. Most CFO's are invisible to Employees, working within the confines of management offices and avoiding Employee contact. Reaching out to Employees promotes an environment of mutual trust creating a more comfortable working environment for everyone and greater economic vitality for Management, Employees, and Consumers.
Bottom Line: Want to attract and retain productive Employees while saving money on benefit plan premiums and reducing the hassle and cost of Employee turnover? Take a look at a Defined Contribution Plan and include your Employees on the Team that is building your company's benefit menu: the CFO, the HR Department, the Broker, AND the Employees.
For Insurance and Benefits related information and directories visit www.benefitplace.biz
For more discussions, Join our Linkedin Group, Insurance Forum -