6 Ways to Revamp Your Employee Benefits Strategy in 2019

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With an increasingly competitive hiring landscape and complex benefits industry, more and more employers are taking advantage of the opportunity to overhaul their employee benefits offerings and take a more strategic approach. SHRM’s latest Employee Benefits report shows that almost one-third of organizations increased their overall benefits offerings in 2016.

A benefits package that meets all your employees’ needs is the ultimate goal, but you can also improve engagement, retention, and recruiting with a package that goes above and beyond. A recent MetLife study found that 72% of employees agree that the ability to customize benefits increases loyalty.

There’s a lot you can do to offer your employees the ultimate benefits package without breaking the bank – you just have to be a little more strategic.

6. Prepare for Benefits Challenges that Come with Growth

As a company grows, the increase of employees in a short period of time can present some challenges as far as compliance, tax filing, employee lifecycle tracking, and benefits administration. Define goals for each benefit that you offer; as more people join the team, the overall benefits needs might change. Ensure that you have the HR staff you need in order to manage the change, and consider switching to an online platform (if you don’t already have one) that can handle the heavier load of administrative work.


company growth chart

Cellular Sales is the nation’s largest retailer of Verizon Wireless, with 560 retail stores across 28 states in the U.S. Their staff was 90% independent contractors and 10% full-time employees, and they went through a massive restructuring of their staffing model when they decided to switch all of their independent contractors into full-time employees. PlanSource set up customized payroll imports for each of their locations and a plugin with Unum to allow employees to sign up for voluntary benefits directly within the Unum system.

Technology can vastly enhance the employee benefits experience, but many companies are not taking advantage of all that it has to offer. The world of HR systems has evolved to be more focused on making work life better, taking advantage of all resources to not only engage employees but empower them. For a company experiencing a large amount of growth in a short period of time, the heavy influx of administrative work involved can make it challenging to provide a good employee experience. Applicant tracking and onboarding technology solutions can help, as well as a robust benefits administration software that provides the best new-hire experience.

5. Know What Benefits Your Employees Want the Most

Communication is key to staying informed, and it’s a two-way street. As you are communicating the full value of your benefits package to your employees, make sure that you’re also getting their input on what benefits they want the most. You won’t be able to give everyone everything they want, but taking the time to try to see if you can make the package work for everyone will be highly appreciated. They will appreciate having a say in their benefits and you may even save some money by getting rid of benefits that no one needs or wants.

There is more student loan debt in the U.S. than credit card debt and auto loans

One of the hottest benefits right now is student loan repayment assistance. More and more Millennials are joining the workforce, and many of them are saddled with considerable debt. In the U.S. alone, student loan debt adds up to $1.3 trillion. Identify if the benefit would be a good addition to your offerings based on your employee demographics and just ask them if it’s something they would want. It could be the program that helps your company stands out from the crowd and builds stronger recruitment and retention at your organization. Learn more about how PlanSource partners with Tuition.io for student loan repayment assistance programs.

Identity theft

Identity theft protection is another popular benefit that could prove crucial to your employees. Last year, more than 15 million U.S. consumers were affected by identity theft. 

If an employee’s identity is stolen, they could lose money and end up spending time in court, losing even more of their valuable time. The average identity theft case can take up to six months or 200 hours to resolve

Learn more about how your employees could have access to technology that detects the smallest changes in each personal identity profile and have 24/7 protection from ID theft.

4. Compete with Bigger Companies Without Breaking the Bank

You most likely won’t be able to compete dollar for dollar with a bigger company that has a much bigger benefits budget, but you can still be competitive in your benefits offering with some agility and creativity.

Health and wellness initiatives are huge right now. One of the fastest-growing new benefits that companies were implementing last year was standing desks. “Sitting is the new smoking” — prolonged sitting is proven to have a negative effect on multiple aspects of employee health, so bringing in a new set of standing desks is a simple way to care for employees’ health.

Sitting is the new smoking.

Smaller companies can generally afford to offer more time off and a better work-life balance than larger ones. Both flexible hours and work-from-home arrangements are affordable perks for companies that want to offer appealing benefits but can’t afford an expensive benefits package. Both of these benefits typically cost the employer nothing — and often save money by lowering overhead costs. Take advantage of the opportunity to give your employees the flexibility that they wouldn’t be able to have at a huge company.

working from home

Stay in tune with employees’ wants and needs so that you know you’re giving them the best you have to offer. Getting feedback through surveys is a great and convenient way to gauge the employee population’s feelings about their benefits, and which benefits are really valued.

3. Influence Company Culture with the Right Benefits

Benefits plans can have a strong influence on company culture, and with the right strategy that influence can be a positive one. Show that you take an interest in the employee as a whole person, not just in terms of the value they bring to the company.

Stacy Solorio, Director of HR and Operations at Atara Biotherapeutics, spoke on a recent webinar with PlanSource and BambooHR about her company’s efforts to keep in touch with their employee population. A dozen or so employees from Atara Bio are on a policy and engagement committee that gives the HR team quarterly feedback about any policies impacting the work environment such as time off, social activities, recognition and appreciation, health and wellness, and community involvement. HR summarizes this feedback for the executive team and they use the suggestions to have candid discussions when changes need to be made.

One of the best ways to influence company culture is by ensuring leadership and management walks the walk. More than half of employers say that they are unable to actively manage culture because they lack leadership support. When managers express support for work-life balance and personal wellness initiatives, they are more successful with employee engagement and satisfaction.

Healthy Lifestyle Background

Services like immigration assistance, elder care support, and health services specific to transgender individuals, veterans, or children with autism are all great options that can be valuable benefits, depending on the specific needs of your employee population. Offering classes and workshops for parenting and financial literacy can also be incredibly useful for employees.

Take the time to learn about the challenges employees face outside of work and help them address those challenges; they’ll appreciate the support and come into work focused and ready to go, not distracted by difficulties in their personal life.  

2. Open Enrollment Best Practices

The key to having a successful open enrollment is to have an engaged employee population, and communication is key to engagement. Require an active enrollment so that they really think about what they’re signing up for instead of just rolling over their benefits from the year before, and implement a solid communication plan to keep them informed.

Use a theme for open enrollment to catch employees’ attention, and cater to different people’s learning styles with different forms of communication. Communication via emails, brochures, workshops, and videos, all before OE starts is helpful for making sure people are ready for when it begins. Use a text messaging service to send OE info and reminders directly to their cell phones repeatedly and consistently. Educational videos throughout the enrollment process help employees figure out difficult benefits terms.

Workshops and webinars are helpful for showing your employees the bigger idea behind each benefit that you offer. Let them know why each carrier and each benefit was selected, and help them understand that it is not just about saving the company money. Show them the value of the benefits you are offering and they will be more inclined to take full ownership over their open enrollment.


Check out our OE Best Practices webinar for more practical tools to help you navigate open enrollment.

timeline for OE communications

1. Encourage employees to fully utilize their benefits package

If your employees aren’t taking full advantage of their benefits package, everyone is wasting money. For the average employee, benefits are his/or second largest annual expense, but many of them only spend an average of 20 minutes on their annual benefits enrollment.  Without the right tools, enough transparency, and strong engagement when it comes to choosing a health plan, employees could run into big problems when they discover too late that they don’t have the coverage they need.

Choose the right benefits technology to simplify, educate, and integrate, that also has enough substance on the back end to support the complexities of online enrollment. Usability for the employee as well as the administrator is important to make the enrollment process easy all around.  You will have trouble finding an HCM solution that can do every single thing you need it to do and do them all well, so you’ll have to pick and choose different systems that meet all your HCM needs and integrate well together – an API strategy is a must-have.

Chart displaying HCM depth vs. breadth

In 2018, consumers will expect a mobile-friendly experience – everyone is completing complex processes on their phones. 18% of consumers have applied for jobs on their phones, and 40% of TurboTax customers used mobile devices to file their taxes last year. Your technology partner should provide a mobile-responsive experience, and utilize communication tools like text messaging help to cater to this trend.

company party planning

Ensure that your employees understand the WHY behind each benefit so that they can really consider how it can help them, and not just focus on the financial aspect. If they understand what exactly a benefit does, they are more likely to enroll.

  • Implement a “nudge campaign” to keep the communication channels open all year round, not just during OE.
  • Get the message across about their great dental insurance by referring employees to a great local dentist, so that extra step is eliminated for them.
  • Customizing communications to individuals based on what they signed up for will keep them educated and informed so that they use everything they have available and remain happy and healthy.

Communication is the most important strategy you can use to have a smarter, more effective benefits package. The benefits world is extremely complex, and it can be difficult to get the message across to people who may not understand how it all works. Have an open conversation with employees about what they really want and need in a benefits package, and make an effort to educate them about all the resources that are available to them to save money and keep employees happy.

Want to learn more ways to revitalize your benefits this year?

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