What are the biggest challenges HR leaders face when buying and searching for employee benefits?
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There are many challenges employers face when sourcing employee benefits. It’s a best practice to involve as many leaders as possible when you search. HR, the CFO and owners should take part in the decision-making process. You might consider input from employee representatives, as well. You’ll be looking for the best possible benefits package you can offer to staff, at the most affordable price for your company and employees.
The search can be lengthy, and it’s a good idea to start with a wish list. When it comes to outsourced benefits, begin with the options that will attract and retain. What benefits do you feel your company needs to offer — like healthcare coverage — and what benefits would you like to offer — like dental and vision coverage? Other outsourced benefits, like short- and long-term disability, life insurance and wellness programming should also be on your list.
The biggest concern for every business, no matter its size, is the cost of the benefit. It must be affordable for the employer to be sustainable. If employees are required to make a contribution, it must be affordable for them as well. Try to determine a price point that is workable for everyone: then begin shopping for plans.
For overall wellness benefits, you’ll want to comparison-shop. Start with medical coverage, the most desired (and costly) coverage for employees and business. You can work with a broker, third-party provider, or check coverage options through the ACA exchanges.
What are the most important plan offerings desired? Look at the costs for full coverage, catastrophic care coverage, prescription drug discounts, and low deductible plans. How do they fit into your, and your employee’s, budgets? Depending on costs and availability in your area, you may have to make some trade-offs and decisions. If you have available funds, look for secondary coverages, like vision, dental, and STD/LTD, which can be much more affordable.
For internal benefits, like paid time off, work with leadership and employee input to determine how much time off is equitable and when/how it will be allotted. Some companies have sick, personal and vacation time policies. Others offer staff unlimited PTO. Determine what you can afford, and offer the best possible options for staff.
The biggest hurdle for most SMBs when it comes to benefits (besides the cost), is moving into uncharted territory. Unless you have a dedicated benefits expert on staff, understanding the ins and outs of plans and coverage can be daunting. It’s a good idea to get expert help — especially if it’s your first time offering coverage.
Work with more than one agent or third-party provider if possible to get the most competitive cost and widest range of options possible at your price point. The first step may be intimidating, but remember you’re starting with quotes and questions, not commitments to coverage. Ask the experts to offer you their best packages, then you’ll be able to make the most informed decisions possible.
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