Are you buying an insurance plan or managing a benefits program? For many businesses, employee benefits are a transaction. You pick the plan, pay the bill, and hope you don’t have to think about it until next year.
If a sales director or an operations manager approached their work with this mindset, most CEOs would sound the alarm. In every other area of a business, we know that being active and nimble, always taking in new information and looking for new opportunities, is essential to success. Yet, with employee benefits, many businesses set it and forget it.
Most employers genuinely want the best for their people and a strategically planned benefits program could be a way to translate this. The key is to provide more than a generic insurance plan, and instead build a benefits program committed to the health and well-being of your employees.
Reimagining your benefits plan can improve employee recruitment and retention as well as unlock potential money saving capabilities. By offering benefits based on what your people actually need, you can show you are invested in them now and in the future while unlocking cost-savings along the way.
The Insurance Mindset
Insurance by definition is a written contract that protects against loss. The renewal process is often treated with an automatic approach. The plan is reviewed, minor negotiations over the costs of premiums take place, and the agreement is signed, often with little research conducted into discovering what new tools or options are available.
If instead, a plan is developed with employees needs in mind, the company could maximize the return on investment. For example, if your workforce skews older, their needs are likely to be much different from a workforce of recent college graduates. Where one group may need plans designed with families in mind, the other group might get more out of a benefits plan that addresses student loans and provides a great deal of flexibility.
No two businesses are exactly alike, yet businesses pick cookie-cutter benefits plans that never quite fit the real people using the plan. That’s the trap of the insurance mindset: Nobody really wins.
Turn your benefits into a valuable asset
Creating benefits designed for your employees begins by recognizing that benefits are more than just perks. They are a way of letting your people know you see them as more than a worker, but an individual, a person beyond the company.
Of course, there is more to creating an ideal benefits plan than asking your employees what they need. Careful financial planning, benchmarking, and data analysis needs to be mapped out to achieve an appropriate roadmap. Comprehensive benefits plans take ongoing work, effort and management. Moreover, the importance of maintaining clarity with your employees is essential. Preparing benefit-related Q&A and training modules can help your employees fully understand their benefits, and giving them access to an advocate or concierge when they have questions improves the experience as well.
The more they understand the more impact the plan will have. For example, if an employee has a health related problem they are more likely to seek medical help quicker if they know what to expect. This allows them to return to the business quicker and safer. Also, when employees experience fewer sick days due to preventative and diagnostic care the cost of healthcare is reduced, leading to a more sustainable program for both you and your people.
Planning and Design
Giving your people the benefits they need and want can also give your company distinct competitive advantages that bring value to the company by reducing costs associated with hiring and onboarding. Employees that are excited about being part of the team and proud to represent the company are less likely to seek jobs elsewhere.
Just as businesses rely on their people, the people rely on the business. Investing the time and energy into a well designed benefits plan can seem challenging, but the rewards are too great to ignore.