Find Time to Lead: Partner with a Benefits Broker
Posted on December 26, 2017
You already know that salaries are your company’s biggest expense. Number two is benefits. That’s why you should consider partnering with a benefits broker. But not just any broker.
So, what should you look for? What separates the wheat from the chaff when most folks are selling the same services?
Are you a benefits expert? Probably not.
First things first, you have to be honest and ask yourself a tough question: Think through the amount of time you spend trying to understand your company’s benefit plans. Comparing cost is just one aspect you should be considering. You need to know which plans are best for your employees. Generally, a one-size-fits-all option isn’t a great idea. You need to provide your employees with variety so they have choices. But then, you also have to consider which plans are best for your company. Of course, cost comes into play here, but you also need to think about the specific needs of your workforce. Do your employees work non-traditional hours necessitating 24/7 service? Do you have a bilingual workforce and need another language on help lines? What about non-traditional benefits such as pet insurance or legal assistance? Yeah, there’s a lot to think about! And, while you’re doing all of this research, you don’t have time to focus on business strategy.
So, imagine if you found a benefits expert to wade in and figure out all of this information for you. What if you could work with a benefit and health insurance broker to streamline access to all of your HR data, helping to reduce errors and eliminate duplicate data entry? How much time would you get back in your day? And, more importantly, what could you do with that time?
Connect the Dots
When it comes to benefits plans, there’s often an employer/employee disconnect. What the employer believes employees want and what employees really want can be two very different animals. When you’re not spinning your wheels reading the fine print of five different health insurance plans, you’ll have the time to:
- Conduct a survey of your employees to find out what types of benefits are of interest. Naturally, you can’t implement all of them, but you can analyze the resulting data and interpret trends based on responses.
- Gauge interest in non-traditional benefits such as tuition assistance, day care services, free snacks and drinks, etc.
- Plan strategic communications programs around benefits throughout the year, and not only at open enrollment time.
Educating employees about their total compensation is another strategic communications program you can focus on when you’re not wrangling your benefits program. Help them understand that there’s more to compensation than just salary. Your younger generations of employees, especially, might only look at their paychecks to determine how much they’re making on the job. A graphically interesting, colorful total compensation statement can help educate them. According to the experts at SHRM, you should include:
- Salary/hourly rate
- Medical benefits coverage—include amount paid by employee and employer
- Flexible spending account information
- Paid leave—include vacation/sick/PTO, holiday, personal, bereavement, military pay, jury duty, etc.
- Disability insurance
- Life insurance
- Employee assistance program
- Retirement benefits—include 401(k)/403(b), pension plans, etc.
- Educational assistance programs
- Relocation expenses, if applicable
Now is also the time that you can consider new non-traditional benefits that don’t involve the help of a broker or agent. Non-traditional benefits can help boost employee morale, increase retention, and attract top talent, so it’s in your company’s best interest to think about offering a few. One idea to help ensure success in your program is to benchmark organizations in your industry to see what’s working for them and think about what impact offering these benefits could have on your workforce. In addition to the ideas above, some options that cost little to no money can include:
- Flex schedules
- Additional or unlimited PTO
- Opportunities for remote work
- Financial counseling
- Discounts to local attractions and events
- Offering a month-long sabbatical to employees for every five years of employment
- Onsite chair massages or yoga classes
Finding the best benefits broker to fit your business can be one of the most valuable investments your company can make. Top benefits brokers are consultative and not someone who just makes the sale and calls you once a year to see if you still want to work with them. They help employees make educated healthcare decisions; help you with compliance and reporting; lend a hand at open enrollment time (or better yet, manage the entire process); recommend complementary services, and provide benefits communication materials.
When you choose your broker, select someone who provides the services you and your employees need today... and someone who will be with you down the road as your company grows.
Now that you better understand why it’s important to partner with a benefits broker, you need to find the right fit for your company. Check out Tips to Select the Right Benefits Broker and learn the key criteria to look for to support both your business and your employees.