It’s pretty safe to say that if you don’t understand your benefits and are overwhelmed, then your employees probably feel the same way. We all want our benefits program to be utilized and valued; however, there needs to be clear communication that employees understand. The first step in this process is to make sure you understand your benefits offerings. But how do you do that? Here are some suggestions that can help you reduce anxiety and assist you in navigating the complex universe that is the benefits world.
Find a good insurance broker. They are out there!
An insurance broker should be someone who works to earn your trust. Your expectations for a broker should be high. They are going to be your resource for compliance, knowledge, and creativity.
A broker worthy of your business will:
- Take the time to explain things to you;
- Participate in your open-enrollment sessions;
- Promptly respond to phone calls and emails;
- Be willing to work for their commission;
- Be well educated and represent multiple carriers for your lines of insurance;
- Offer multiple types of insurance (think one-stop shopping).
Some may even be willing to interact directly with your employees on a regular basis. If they are a willing and responsive point of contact for your employees, they can take a lot off your plate. The added bonus is they may be a resource for your employees to contact if your employees are uncomfortable going to you. You can find industry experts by searching them through their specialty accreditations, like Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (CEBS) or participation in associations like National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU).
Developing processes and procedures with a specific timeline will limit duplicative work, as you may be able to streamline the process to work for all of your plan options rather than just one. Create a calendar with important reporting schedules as well as open enrollment and monthly enrollment reconciliation. Standardizing processes and developing procedures will eliminate many of the fires that come across your desks, freeing up time to be better spent on other HR initiatives.
Consider outsourcing or a consultant.
From time to time, it may be better to let go of the reins a little and let a professional come in and do the work. You can access consultants to do a variety of items, from developing reporting and enrollment policies and procedures to actually performing reporting and program tasks for you. Hiring a consultant to develop a wellness program is a good example of how a consultant can help you contain costs while developing a program that is compliant and effective. You are not expected to be the expert in all areas. No one can be. Acknowledge this, access the experts, and use them to your benefit.
The information can be overwhelming, and the changes can be confusing. Don’t shut down. Access your resources to ask questions, and keep asking them until you understand. Insurance brokers, MSEC, and consultants all have experts in these areas and are excellent resources. Lean on them and ask them questions. They are all valuable partners in the success of your benefits program. You can also find a lot information through industry publications, so sign up for publications and newsletters. You don’t have to read every word in the publication, but you can skim them for articles that may apply to your situation or pique your interests.
You are not alone. There are resources to help you. Yes, it can be complicated, and the only certainty is change. However, the best way to eat an elephant is not whole. It may seem impossible to do, but it can be done. Piece by piece.