Designing a Benefit Plan for Your Company And Your Employees

BY KELLY MANNING | Benefits & HR Advisor

As an experienced HR professional, I’ve learned that in the course of consistent self-improvement, as well as recruitment and retention of talent, the right benefits plan is one of the most important factors for any company. At its core, the function of a benefits plan is to serve a company’s most important asset: people. It may sound reductive, but any company is only as good as the people who drive it toward its objectives, and to have a top-quality company there needs to be a top-quality staff. Especially in times of lowering unemployment levels, no business can take recruiting and retaining top talent for granted. Benefits ranging from medical plans to flex time arrangements are now vital in integrating company attractiveness and employee loyalty into corporate culture. Through a benefits-focused shift in culture, organizations can promote positivity and morale, as well as communicate to employees that you care enough to invest in their position.

If benefits are this important in creating and maintaining a quality squad of employees, then why do so many organizations not do as much as they should in order to select or create the best total rewards package possible? In a word: oversight. In the face of the cost that benefits packages can bring, not taking the time to research the intangible positives, as well as what prospective employees may find attractive, organizations can view comprehensive benefits packages like they aren’t necessities. Unfortunately, this view can hold companies back from a package that positively impacts operational success and employee satisfaction alike.

As the former HR Director for a nonprofit home health agency for over 13 years, benefits were able to make a substantial impact on retention within the industry. Much like many competitive industries, the health care industry often carries a high demand for staff as well as high turnover rates. For this particular organization and others within the industry, primarily funded by Medicaid, the ability to provide high base wages is nearly nonexistent. Within this environment, providing competitive yet affordable benefits packages is vital in securing and maintaining employment with valuable, motivated and skilled employees. Through consistently reviewing industry data, conducting employee surveys and researching benefit utilization, we were able to assemble benefits offerings that greatly contributed to a stable and talented workforce as well as bolstered our status as one of the industry’s employers of choice.

When designing your own benefits plan to work toward success, the process begins with strategic planning. Keeping in mind your organization’s mission, vision and values, your benefits solution needs to be in line with where you want to go and what you want to be, while remaining at an attainable price point. By gathering research from your employees about their experiences and attitudes toward benefits, you’ll be able to integrate these views into your criteria. What drives your employees? What do they value? Take a look at your benefits, and see what currently fits and doesn’t fit within the framework you’ve established. Next, conduct a utilization review to see what is being used and what is truly “benefiting” your employees and what isn’t. This review will point out which of your current offerings are absolutely essential, which can be cut, and what you may be missing.

After reviewing and determining a course of action, putting the new policies into place becomes a matter of administrative due diligence. Evaluating costs and return on investment for new plans, as well as determining methods for smooth policy administration and navigation of any legal considerations, can be shared with organizational leadership, HR professionals and the employer’s broker partner. After policies are put in place, employee utilization becomes an intentional communications effort between leadership and employees.

Through education on available benefits as well as their utilization and value, employees will be much more likely to appreciate the benefits that they have access to and more likely to appreciate the benefits that their position provides.

Through examining your own benefits offerings and entering the process of optimization, employees are made to feel valued and appreciated. As a result, your employees will likely become more satisfied and willing to retain their employment status. Committing to thorough and frequent review of benefit offerings, employees are the “asset” who gain the most benefit. Through proper benefits offerings, your organization can continue a trend of strong growth and maintain engaged, valued and committed employees.

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