5 Best Practices for Benefits Administration

Benefits AdministrationLast June, at the most recent SHRM2104 conference, I was lucky enough to attend a seminar given by the society's Vice President for Research, Dr. Alexander Alonso, who outlined his thoughts on the best practices for benefits administration for the coming year. Insightful and actionable, they made a strong impression on me so I thought I would share them with you. Here goes:

1. Make Employees Knowledgeable about Benefits

This practice may seem self-evident but many companies merely promote the fact that they have benefits without actually delineating all of them. Part of your onboarding process should include a brief overview – verbal and written – of all the benefits available to the new employees. Secondly, create total compensation statements at review time that detail the actual dollar values that the benefits represent to your employees. Establishing this number really creates some perspective for your employees.

2. Make the Choices “Cafeteria-Style”

There is simply no point in paying for benefits that your employees will never use. For example, middle-aged employees will probably not avail themselves of any pregnancy benefits while younger ones can probably sign up for one of the lower-priced health plans. The point of the cafeteria-style menu, however, is that you do not set yourself up as the arbiter of who needs what but allow the employees the opportunity to do so.

3. Be Flexible

The latest generation of employees are enamored with the idea of working from home. In addition, options like work-flex schedules and unrestricted leave should definitely be considered for highly-skilled, technically trained, high-performing employees. Owners must face this fact or they risk not attracting the best talent.

4. Offer to Subsidize Professional Development

Identified by the most valuable employees – defined as those who are the most productive – as a major reason for choosing a company and for remaining with it. While there can be substantial costs associated with this best practice, consider it an investment. In fact, it is a win-win situation as both the employee and your company enjoy the benefits of his/her professional development.

5. Use Wellness Initiatives

An often overlooked benefit best practice is to push – and push hard – your company wellness initiatives. Absenteeism goes down, morale increases and healthcare costs in the form of lower premiums for both your employees and the company will often drop from one year to the next as fewer healthcare claims are made.

One Final Note

These practices were not developed by Dr. Alonso in a vacuum. Instead, he and his team at SHRM surveyed the members of this organization – that's you and me – to come up with these practices. For me, that means they are practical, easily actionable and will really work.