A Strategic Approach for Benefits Planning

By Stewart, Lori | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), November 10, 2016 | Go to article overview

A Strategic Approach for Benefits Planning


Stewart, Lori, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


Like most sports teams, businesses find themselves in the fourth quarter dealing with a lot of pressure to make budget and benefit decisions, with just a small amount of time left in the game.

If you resemble the majority of companies in administering your benefits program, you typically have a trusted broker/adviser; request your new premiums every year; communicate those changes to the employees; offer open enrollment; implement on Jan. 1 and move on.

Have you ever considered a different approach to benefits modeling? Perhaps it's time to reconsider your current process and instead, take an assertive and strategic approach to evaluating your benefits program.

Begin with a planning meeting. In addition to your vendors, consider inviting other individuals who can collectively contribute to the process. You could choose to include employee representatives, trusted advisers such as your attorney or CPA, and/ or non-vendor consultants who are able to help you objectively evaluate your current benefits model.

When reviewing your company's overall cost in employee benefits, ask yourself, "Are our employees receiving what they need and what is our return on investment?" While it's difficult to keep up with trends, it's imperative to do so.

First of all, make sure benefits truly benefit your employees. Don't make the mistake of offering benefits simply because they always have been offered.

For example, an employer who offers group health care coverage might inadvertently be creating a financial disadvantage in certain circumstances. This can be the case if employees were receiving an Advanced Premium Tax Subsidy for their health care coverage through www.healthcare.gov. If the employer offers coverage that is affordable and of minimum value, the employees would not be eligible for the subsidy.

Another mistake many employers make is not quantifying the total investment they make in employee benefit programs. Most benefits (not necessarily all) come with some cost to the employer to administer and/or contribute. The total dollar amount associated with these benefits is critical to know and monitor for two primary reasons:

Increases in cost: Each time a premium changes or an additional employee signs up for a benefit, it has the potential to increase the expense to the company. …

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