- By Howard Cheung, Account Executive, Immix Group / May 23, 2018
Employee benefits are an integral part of both the employee-value proposition and the overall working experience. As an HR manager, you might well ask, “Just how deeply should I be involved in employee benefits?”
Let’s be frank. The discipline of employee benefits can be overwhelmingly complex. It takes in administrative processing, financial analysis, reconciliation and compliance. And, given that the cost of benefits is huge, you may even be responsible for negotiation and auditing.
To help you efficiently manage employee benefits, here are three tips:
Use and take advantage of online technology
Check with your broker to set up your group plan with:
- a plan administrator’s online platform
- members’ online platform
- a mobile app for members.
At a minimum, most insurers have an online administration platform to do a majority of traditional tasks: enrolment/termination/changes for members; viewing invoices; viewing coverage; etc. As for implementation of benefits, don’t sift through hundreds of paper applications. Instead, ask your broker if they can support electronic enrolment of members.
Encourage employees to use the members’ online platform to check coverage balance, replace lost cards and use best practices for travel/special claims. As well, more and more insurers have mobile app support. This allows easy, at-their-fingertips access to all of their benefit details. The more self-servicing resources provided to members, the less manual work falls to the HR department.
Implement an employee assistance program (EAP)
A key role of HR is to support employees in cases of workplace crises stemming from a variety of factors: mental illness, personal issues, financial stress, substance abuse, etc. All these can lead to performance issues and absenteeism. As well, they put a lot of stress and burden on the HR department.
Fortunately, a strong EAP is a powerful partner for HR and can help address all of the above with minimal disruption to business.An EAP is designed to assist employees in resolving the above issues via: counsellors over the phone or online; referral services; and wellness resources. Many EAPs also offer coaching and assistance to managers and HR in dealing with employee issues, such as workplace conflicts.
The key benefit of such a program is that it is anonymous and confidential, with expert resources for employees. Often political and privacy factors are at play that prevent employees from seeking help through their employer. As issues continue to linger, performance and ultimately the efficiency of the business will be adversely affected. All businesses, small or large, should consider taking advantage of a strong EAP as a cost-effective solution in alleviating workplace crises.
Work with a dedicated benefits broker
Benefits can involve many layers of management. It is a good idea to work with an employee benefits brokerage that has a dedicated team for servicing and consultation. This means not using the insurance company or an independent financial advisor without an in-house team. By contrast, a dedicated benefits service team can help coordinate and negotiate claims that could otherwise be declined by the insurer.
A specialized benefits broker can provide better insights; they have a wider range of tools and better pooling arrangements with insurers. These advantages lead to optimizing the cost of your employee benefits program. This is especially important at renewal time, when a benefits broker can make sense out of your multi-page renewal report and guide you through the nuances of benefits analysis.
At Immix Group, we believe implementing the above three tips will significantly optimize the administration of benefits in HR. As employee benefits specialists, we work closely with HR so that we are the ones doing the brunt of the heavy lifting in:
- market surveying
- financial analysis
- negotiation with insurers
- securing pooling arrangements
When benefits are efficiently managed, both you as the HR manager and your workforce are better able to focus on running your business.