4 Reasons to Consider Flexible Benefits Contribution Strategies

Flexible Benefits Plans give employees more control over their benefits by letting them choose how to pay into their benefits. Additionally, this gives employees reviewing various options and selecting the best fit across multiple benefits. There are many advantages to offering a flexible benefits contribution strategy, especially in terms of having happy, satisfied employees. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Let Your Employees Customize Their Care

Every employee is different and has different benefits needs. Letting employees tailor their own benefits helps the company as much as it helps the employee. The employee is able to focus on areas of their benefits that they most need, and will forego areas that they don’t need. This means the company isn’t being forced to offer the employee benefits that they don’t need.

How does it work?

Employees put pre-tax money towards their flexible account, just like a health savings account. They can then use that money for qualified healthcare expenses. So, rather than having to pay an exorbitant fee for healthcare expenses that they aren’t going to use, they’re instead putting their pre-tax dollars directly towards the healthcare that they do need.

Flexible accounts can be used for: dental costs, prescription medications, vision expenses, and hearing expenses. These are expenses that aren’t covered by all healthcare plans, and can be expensive to add to a plan. An employee may not need a $200 a month eyecare plan, but they may want to get help with their $50 contacts every month.

2. Provide Employees with Transparent Options

When employees have benefits that they can customize, they are able to learn more about their options. Since they have direct control over their contributions, they are more likely to look into the options and select the ones most value to them.

Employees will often feel as though they don’t properly understand their benefits because they haven’t really looked into those benefits. By providing them with more transparent options, you can encourage them to look into it further.



3. Bring in Employees Looking for Better Benefits

Today, many employees are looking for better benefits rather than better salaries. Employees with families, in particular, are going to look for healthcare benefits before they look for greater levels of wages. By providing a flexible benefits contribution package, you can potentially bring in new employees who are specifically looking for benefits.

This doesn’t just provide a more competitive package, but it does so at a lessened cost for the company. Having better talent improves the company in a myriad of ways, and it ensures that more employees are also retained. Training an employee can cost many times that employee’s annual salary: the more employees that are retained, the lower the company’s costs, and the better the continuity of business processes.

4. Keep Employees Healthier With Tailored Strategies

The more employees are able to tailor their benefits packages, particularly their healthcare insurance, the better they will be able to target the right care. Every employee has different needs, and those needs can have a direct impact on their general health, happiness, and well-being. By improving employee health, you can improve the general company culture, as well as attendance and performance.

Healthier employees work better, and every employer wants to make sure that their employees are satisfied and happy with their position. Keeping employees healthy can be a challenge if the right healthcare and benefits packages aren’t available, as employees may not be able to get the treatment that they need. Today, many employees find themselves choosing between healthcare and other essentials, and aren’t as likely to take care of themselves as they would otherwise be.

The Benefits of a Flexible Plan

Ultimately, a flexible benefits plan is another tool that you can use to make sure that your employees are getting the benefits that they desire. Benefits management is always a challenge, but the more you put your employees in control, the more likely you are to be giving them what they want. Today, cookie-cutter policies aren’t always the best bet, and employees have extremely varied needs.

As benefits packages become a more critical part of an employee’s total compensation, it also becomes more necessary to make sure that they have greater control over it. Better flexibility and better transparency will make employees feel like key stakeholders in their own benefits packages and will make them more likely to pursue more information about their benefits, and tailor their benefits to their own personal needs.

Start by looking into programs such as Flexible Spending Accounts and Tuition Reimbursement. To learn more about the benefits of flexible contributions, contact SMD Insurance at 510-895-4800 and download A Smart Small Business Tool for Employee Benefits Contributions


Want to Skip Open Enrollment? Tips for a Frustrated HR Manager

Would you rather skip open enrollment this year? It’s understandable. It can seem as though every year, open enrollment becomes more difficult. Options change. Prices go up. Employees get frustrated. But as an HR manager or administrator, it’s your job to manage employee benefits. Here’s what you need to know.

The Challenges of Open Enrollment

Open enrollment essentially sets a very small window of time during which HR managers need to do a lot of work. During your company’s open enrollment period, you’re going to need to help employees make the changes that they need to their current healthcare benefits. That can be a lot of employees, and a lot of changes. Employees are likely to have a lot of questions about open enrollment, and they’re going to need to make decisions that last the full year. 

Streamlining Your Open Enrollment Processes

As with any busy time, streamlining your processes is critical. How do employees currently make changes to their open enrollment? Is there a form or a packet that they fill out, or do they need to come down to your office and discuss it with you each time? How much information is made available to them at the beginning of the open enrollment period, and are they given information that enrollment will be upcoming in a timely fashion?

The more lead time and more information you give your employees, the more likely they are to self-service to some degree. They will look up their options and make a decision before, not after, walking in through your door.

Streamlined processes also benefit your employees. They will feel more willing to explore the options that are best for them and their families if they can look the information up on their own.

The Tools You Can Use to Improve Open Enrollment

Tools can help. The more of this process you can automate, the better, especially for larger companies. Here are a few tools that you may find worthwhile:

Your company’s intranet. Your intranet should be a repository for critical information about open enrollment, such as the forms and deadlines.

  • Mailing lists. A mailing list can give employees information about the upcoming enrollment, and serve as a reminder to get documents in on time.
  • Webcasts and meetings. Sometimes, employees may need more detailed explanations about new options that they have. A webinar or webcast can help.
  • Ultimately, open enrollment is a time when you need to educate your employees regarding their options.



Why Do Employees Skip Open Enrollment?

As an HR manager, part of your job is to make sure that employees are able to use the benefits that they have. But employees may skip open enrollment entirely, even if it’s advantageous to them because they are uncertain about the process or don’t know what changes to make. 

That’s not good for the company, either. Often, the company is going to be providing benefits that also helps the business as a whole, such as new health care plans that can improve the overall health and attitude of the office.

By making the process simpler, and explaining it thoroughly, you can encourage employees to make adjustments to their benefits packages as needed.

Helping Employees Navigate Open Enrollment

Companies often change their open enrollment offerings, which means the process of open enrollment needs to include:

  • A detailed explanation of what has changed.
  • An overview of the open enrollment process.
  • Explanations of the current options.

Employees will be able to better navigate open enrollment if the process is streamlined and simple. If you find that employees are confused, it may be time to create a more thorough informational packet or hold seminars online.

The Benefits of Better Open Enrollment

Employees are valuable. Benefits are intended to help employees, and when benefits are difficult to access, good employees may leave. Employers all have a vested interest in making sure that their employees are satisfied and well taken care of, which they cannot do if their employees are in poor health, or frustrated by their current benefits processes.

By improving open enrollment, you can make it easier to make sure that employees have what they need. An improved open enrollment process won’t just lead to satisfied employees, but will also mean that enrollment takes up far less of your time, and far less time for the HR department in general. That leaves the HR department to take care of other things, such as day-to-day tasks.

Want to improve your employee benefits? Download our checklist: 10 Steps to Choosing the Best Benefits Enrollment Tools for Your Small Business



Finding an Advocate for Your Employees’ Healthcare

Are your staff members struggling with finding the right responses to employee benefits questions? It can often feel as though there’s an overwhelming amount of information, and you may not know how to cull down to the details that can be shared with your staff. Creating a proactive approach to employee benefits starts with having a good relationship between HR departments and staff members, so employees feel comfortable coming to you with questions. Part of that happens because of the ongoing ability of human resources professionals to provide solid, trusted resources and responses to common questions. In this way, your team can truly become an advocate for your employees’ healthcare.  Continue reading “Finding an Advocate for Your Employees’ Healthcare”

4 Tips to Reduce Benefits Costs While Increasing Value

The rising costs associated with providing healthcare benefits is one of the biggest concerns for today’s employers, and for good reason. According to Kiplinger, 2019 marks the sixth year in a row of significant healthcare cost increases — and healthcare costs are up a whopping 5% this year over last year. The costs are projected to rise again which can have employers wondering where they can make cuts to keep healthcare costs in line with revenue. These four tips will help you reduce the overall cost of healthcare for your business through simple suggestions such as expanding flexible contributions without a negative impact to your staff members. Continue reading “4 Tips to Reduce Benefits Costs While Increasing Value”

6 New Ways to Pay for Employee Benefits

How do you acquire the best talent? With the best benefits. Not every business can be competitive in terms of salary, but salary isn’t the only thing that employees look at. As a cost-conscious employer, you need to find affordable new ways to offer your employees the best benefits — and there are a lot of things you can try.  Continue reading “6 New Ways to Pay for Employee Benefits”

Which Employee Benefits are the Best Value?

Top talent in today’s job market value an excellent employee benefits package over a higher salary even. In fact, according to Glassdoor’s 2017 Employment Confidence Survey, nearly 80 percent of workers would prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase. Among Millennials (18 to 34), a staggering 90 percent claimed they would prefer benefits over a pay raise. Recent data from a number of additional sources seem to confirm this trend toward prioritizing benefits, but how can employers offer a competitive benefits package that delivers value to the company itself? Continue reading “Which Employee Benefits are the Best Value?”

Open Enrollment Best Practices

The open enrollment period for benefits is not always met with much interest. There are some employees who will ignore it altogether while others wait until the last minutes then scramble madly to make a choice. It isn’t always easy to help employees get the right plan, but it isn’t impossible. These open enrollment best practices make the process a little less painful and a lot more proactive so that all your employees have the coverage that they need. Continue reading “Open Enrollment Best Practices”

5 Ways to Attract the Right Employees

Attracting top talent is a challenge that all organizations face from time to time. Some may experience an influx of interest from talent that is not relevant to the company needs while others simply do not attract any quality talent at all. It is an ongoing struggle for most businesses to attract employees that not only meet the qualifications of the job description but are also high quality and likely to remain with the company for years to come.

Many organizations have found these best practices for attracting the right employees to be very effective in their hiring efforts. Continue reading “5 Ways to Attract the Right Employees”

Lowering Costs Through Benefits Contribution

Today’s competitive staffing environment means employees have choices when it comes to their employer, and small businesses are increasingly looking to advanced benefits offerings to become more attractive to employees. It’s not unusual for healthcare to form the greatest part of the cost of providing benefits, creating a tension between businesses and staff members each year during the benefits renewal season. With the rising costs of healthcare, it’s crucial that organizations look for ways to reduce their benefits contributions — without losing benefits that are important to retain top talent within the organization. Businesses are increasingly turning to defined contributions as a way to lower healthcare costs without sacrificing a great deal of the benefits that employees expect. Continue reading “Lowering Costs Through Benefits Contribution”