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Benefit Resolutions for a New Year

Is 2011 the year we will finally see a rebound in the economy?

The financial strains have prevented HR professionals from implementing initiatives that have been tabled until organizational purse strings loosen up.  Even though positive economic expectations are in the air, experienced HR professionals know their departments may be one of the last to see increased budget allowances.

Proactive HR teams are considering projects that can create an immediate ROI and long-term cost savings.

Here are a few suggestions that your HR team might consider in 2011:

Total Benefit Costs

More and more HR professionals are realizing the benefits of evaluating the much more than just the cost of insurance plans.  While cost is obviously important, how about considering other factors that can create immediate ROI, such as;

  • How many vendors are currently providing administrative services for your plans, and would consolidating some of those vendors/services result in lower fees?
  • Are you evaluating brokerage fees, commissions, and overrides to maximize the value these vendors are providing? With brokerage fees totaling approximately 5% to 10% of overall plan costs, it is vital to hold service providers accountable for the innovation, expertise and results delivered to your organization and its employees.

We would encourage benefit teams to perform a Cost/Benefit Analysis for every vendor associated with running your benefit programs – you may find multiple savings opportunities!

Dependent Eligibility Audits

For years, employers have somewhat blindly believed that dependents covered on the group’s health insurance plans are eligible.  The insurance company is monitoring dependent eligibility, right? NOT BASED ON OUR EXPERIENCE.

Industry averages indicate that in excess of 10% of covered dependents are not eligible according to Plan rules!  Typical scenarios include married children, over age children, divorced spouses, unmarried spouses, and the occasional neighbor, nephew, grandchild, grandmother, gardener… you get the idea!  There are effective ways to remove these ineligible dependents from the Plan without creating an adversarial environment with your employees.  Potential savings are obvious – and your due diligence as the Plan Sponsor is a critical element of overall plan compliance.

Improve Employee Engagement  Now

Now is the perfect time to focus on shoring up your employee engagement initiatives.  There are creative ways to establish / enhance / refine the ways you communicate with employees about the company’s mission, and the individual role and value each employee plays in accomplishing corporate objectives.  As the economy improves, your organization may quickly move into a hiring mode.  According to a recent survey by Robert Half and CareerBuilder, 55% of respondents plan to make a career change, seek out new employers, or go back to school, and 28% plan to ask for a raise!

Once the ‘Now Hiring’ signs start to go up, retaining current talent will be a key factor in how well employers are positioned to take advantage of the marketplace, while reducing the significant costs related to turnover.

As we move towards economic recovery, projects that impact your organization favorably will help demonstrate the overall strategic value that the HR Department provides.