Companies used to be considered great employers if they offered decent pay and medical benefits, but that is not the case anymore. Employees are looking for employers who have the same values as them and therefore make offerings that meet their individual needs. They want more flexible work environments and therefore flexible benefits packages. For example, millennials strife with overwhelming college debt, may be interested in student loan payback benefits. Boomers and Gen X may be more interested in 401(k) vesting schedules or long term care benefits.
Being an employer that has a robust benefits package doesn’t have to be daunting or bankrupt your business either. Offering a benefit doesn’t necessarily mean you have to foot the bill. If you get the right mix of plans it will also help your business stand out and recruit top talent.
So where to start? Here are a few simple steps to help you get started towards a more robust benefit offering.
Create a Benefit Survey
How do you know what people want for benefits if you do not periodically check in with them? While you may already know your benefit offerings for 2018, your may want to schedule a benefit survey for the end of Q1 next year. Ask questions to get a pulse of how your employees feel open enrollment went (the good and the bad). During this time, also ask some direct questions about the current benefit offerings and rank how important this is to them. If copays are the most important, that should be the last benefit you touch and make negative changes to. After you get some info on the current state, throw in some new benefits the organization are considering. If your employee base is older, they may not find any value in student loan payback benefits. If your population is younger they may be really interested in pet insurance or maternity/paternity benefits. A simple survey can get you those answers and help you offer new plans that really add value and aren’t just another administrative headache.
Get Quotes and Plan Information
After you have conducted a survey and know what benefits your employees are interested in, start researching what is out there from different providers. Get as many quotes as you can and start reviewing networks and payouts. Many times employers feel like they can’t offer certain benefits because of cost. Remember, they are called voluntary benefits for a reason, and employees don’t really expect employers to pay for pet insurance or universal life, they just want to have the ability to enroll in them and therefore are happy to pay the cost.
If you are taking a look at current offerings, begin talking with your broker about options for the next plan year as soon as results of your survey are back. Make them aware you want to see some costs of changing the plans based on the feedback you received. Maybe your employees thinks their co-insurance is too high, or they want more contributions to their HSA. This allows you to price out some options and start analyzing the impact on the bottom line. Maybe you make some, all or no changes.
Make a Decision and Rollout
Once you have reviewed all the plan designs including costs and ease of administration, get the right players together and make a decision of what you should add. If you need Finance’s help to reconcile bills make sure you get their buy-in. Also, be sure to think about the number of plans you want to add. Too many options and you may not get the enrollment numbers you were hoping for and the rollout may flop.
Finally, get together a rollout timeline. For new benefits, you may not want to wait until the next open enrollment and instead would prefer to do something in the summer so you can properly communicate it. For other standard benefits like medical and dental you may be required to wait unless you want to amend the plan, so it may make sense to look at the numbers and make changes for the upcoming plan year.
And after all is said and done, make sure you communicate that these new plans/changes came from the survey feedback to tie it all together. You might not make everyone happy, but at least MOST employees will know that you take their feedback seriously and a little of that will go along way.