When companies ask Jay Quinnabout assembling a benefitsplan, they tend to focus on thesame thing – the optimum coverage forthe least cost.
“That’s a challenge,” says Quinn,president of Lane Quinn Benefit Consultantsin Calgary. Not just because it’sa tough demand, but because both heand the employer may lack some informationto make the right choices.To find the best solutions, answerquestions that are often overlooked.
What are your goals?
That seems obvious, but employersdon’t always take that step back, says Mira Jelic, co-founder of NovusHealth, a Canadian health and wellnessprovider based in Toronto. Cost is animportant consideration, but Jelic sayscompanies must first consider the strategicobjective behind their coverage.Do they want to keep pace with thecompetition? Be an employer of choice? Address specific issues of recruitmentor retention? The answers to thosequestions can shape the particulars ofa plan.
What is the workplace environment?
“I need to understand their culture,”says Quinn. That includes the organization’soverall health and wellnessinitiatives (how will benefits fit in?),how the employer offers choice andflexibility in other areas of HR (willbenefits reflect that too?), and currentand target demographics (what groupsshould the benefits appeal to?).
What will the employee experiencefeel like?
When shopping for benefits, employersunderstandably focus on their ownexperience, i.e., the expense, or the timeor effort involved in administration.Look at coverage through the eyes of employees too, says Rebika Shaw, SVP,strategy, sales and operations at Boston-based WorldCare International.
That means getting a full idea ofthe depth of services, she says. “Walk through what a benefits claim looks like,how an employee may value that, whatholes the benefits fill, and the employee’sexperience with the service,” says Shaw.
Employers need a feel for how the benefits plan meets HR priorities, sothey can make comparisons and decisionsthat go beyond costs.
When should you revisit the plan?
Employers often have their deepestconversations about what they wantfrom a benefits plan when they’reshopping around and again when it’s renewal time. Jelic says benefits advisorscan maximize their value when you give them ongoing information,like feedback from employees aboutthe plan, or the growth and changingmakeup of the employee base. “Trustyour advisor and build that relationship,”says Jelic.