By Trüpp

It is no secret that employee benefits are integral to attracting and retaining employees, but when carefully selected and deployed, they can also have a significant impact on keeping your team members engaged and satisfied, a critical element of keeping your organization running smoothly. Some of the most common obstacles of benefits administration are finding benefits that fit within your company’s budget while meeting the needs and interests of your employees, communicating those benefits and their value clearly and effectively with employees, and managing paperwork and administrative tasks. But there are ways to mitigate these pain points, making the benefits administration process smoother for you and your team.

Conduct an employee benefits survey

Savvy employers will consider the organization’s goals, budget, and employee demographics when determining what benefits to offer. A workforce comprised primarily of employees closer to retirement may find themselves focused on 401(k) plans, while workers starting families may prefer robust parental leave or mental health benefits. Current trends include employer-sponsored paid leave, unlimited PTO, childcare, remote or hybrid work arrangements, and transportation or workstation stipends. The best practice is to prioritize benefits that will be the most beneficial to most of your employees.

An employee benefits survey is a great way to discover your employees’ needs and wants. Rather than relying on intuition, your company will receive reliable data to guide appropriate benefits selections and ensure the most informed decisions. While this adds an additional step, it will help make the most of your benefits dollars.

Work with a health insurance broker

Health insurance brokers offer a wealth of information and industry knowledge, making the benefits administration process much easier for your team. But few organizations take full advantage of all the services a broker is willing and able to provide. Not only can brokers get better rates, they also offer a range of quotes and coverages to meet their client’s budgets and needs. This simplifies the buying process because they will analyze several factors to help clients determine the best type of coverage for their business.

Start by communicating your business and employee needs with the insurance broker. They will then find multiple plan options that meet your requirements. This saves your company’s benefits administrator valuable time.

While health insurance brokers highlight free or perk offerings, they are limited to offering health insurance benefits. You must seek out different advisors or secure additional employee perks on your own. 401(k) plans, for example, require seeking out a financial advisor specializing in 401(k) plans for businesses.

Develop an effective communication plan

Employers often hold open enrollment meetings to communicate available benefits options to employees and any significant changes for the coming year. But communicating this complex information can be challenging. These tips will help you to communicate effectively during this process:

  1. Compile all information ahead of time
    Before holding a meeting, ensure you have all the necessary information. Consider what changes need to be communicated: more or less coverage, increased or decreased prices, new plan options, and any other critical information like deadlines, how to add beneficiaries, etc. Employees are less likely to be overwhelmed when this information is presented in an easy-to-understand format. Be sure to translate any complex terminology or jargon into simple language everyone will understand.
  1. Anticipate employee questions
    Anytime there are changes, employees will have questions. Anticipating these questions and having answers prepared can help make the most of your open enrollment meeting and alleviate employee frustrations. To better understand what questions might arise, provide employees a way to submit questions before the meeting.
  1. Provide employees with resources
    Provide employees access to the benefits information and answers to questions after the open enrollment meeting to help them remember the information presented and free up your HR or benefits administrator’s time. Ensure resources are easy to read and easily accessible either through email, internal intranet, file sharing, etc. Inform employees of the best way to communicate or ask questions throughout the process.
  1. Don’t overcommunicate!
    While open enrollment requires effective communication concerning important benefits information and plan changes, overcommunicating can cause confusion. Excessive content can create clutter and cause employees to ignore or overlook critical details. Simplify your communication and the information from carrier documentation to ensure employees get essential information clearly and concisely.

Utilize a benefits administration platform

Benefits administrators must ensure that plan descriptions comply with federal and state laws and can get quickly bogged down by paperwork and manual data entry, including coordination of payroll deductions and responding to time-sensitive employee requests.

Electronic benefits administration platforms help you juggle these tasks effectively and efficiently by providing self-service options that enable employees to make benefits elections and coverage changes and easily review plan selections. Many of these platforms include dashboards, reporting functionality, carrier feeds, and an employee ticketing system for submitting questions while providing valuable digital resources for employees.

Showcase the value of the benefits you provide

The time-consuming transactional responsibilities of benefits administration often consume the time allotted for open enrollment research and deployment, causing organizations to miss out on the opportunity to showcase the value of their employee benefits. Take the time to highlight the perks your organization offers so you can reap the benefits of attracting and retaining employees by showcasing your company as an employer of choice.

As mentioned earlier, employee benefits also include non-healthcare-related offerings. Consider providing perks specific to your employee demographic, which might be less costly. Health club memberships, learning and development platforms, community discount programs, tuition reimbursement, paid professional memberships, volunteer and charitable events, or donations are a few examples of these non-healthcare-related perks. Unlike healthcare benefits generally utilized during crises, these additional perks enrich your employees’ day-to-day lives, providing a more tangible and positive experience. This translates into improved employee sentiment, better engagement, and increased retention.

Consider outsourcing benefits administration

Benefits administration often creates a bottleneck that is exacerbated during open enrollment for two to three months and hinders other important HR projects. Consider solutions that help mitigate these issues, such as outsourcing your benefits administration or the open enrollment process.

Outsourcing does not have to be an all-or-nothing approach. You can supplement your existing HR team or programs with benefits administration professionals who make managing benefits easier. Their expert support helps ensure compliance with federal and state-specific laws and streamlines the entire process with services like coordinating projects, meetings, brokers, and insurance carriers. Your team is freed up to focus on other priorities and enjoys relief from the stress of open enrollment season.

Struggling to manage employee benefits? Offload your benefits administration to our team.