It’s 2022 “Strategy Season.” Not as exciting as baseball season or beach season, but it is more important to your business. The number of organizations I come across that aren’t already in the midst of planning for their employee benefits in 2022 is surprising. “Winging it” with last-minute scrambling can, and often does, result in unexpected outcomes.
Viewpoints from Matt Sears
When it comes to benefits, there are few key elements to consider to set everyone up for success:
Know what you’re trying to accomplish; what you want your benefits “to be.”
Your benefits strategy should support and align with your organization’s broader goals. This is likely driven by needs: Are you having difficulty recruiting or retaining employees? Are you losing key people to a competitor? Do you have issues maintaining compliance? Can your budget support your benefit plans or are rising costs impacting other areas of need?
Create a set of Guiding Principles that you use to help measure alternatives.
Think of this as a “Constitution for Benefits”… it can be changed if conditions demand, but carefully and thoughtfully. Generally, your guiding principles should be the steady rule against which you measure potential changes.
Build a benefits team.
Your organization’s human resources and finance teams, along with your employee benefits broker or consultant AND various vendor partners, all need to be on board with your goals, guiding principles and challenges. It is not up to you and your internal team to do everything. If your broker/consultant hasn’t already helped you craft a long-term strategy, you’re already behind. If your insurers, administrators or vendors won’t help you accomplish that strategy, it’s time to find new ones.
Understand your population.
Your broker/consultant should be delivering data in an actionable way. Not every benefit plan is large enough to get detailed claims data, but every plan has some metrics that can inform your decisions.
Survey your employees periodically. Don’t buy a new benefits program because some vendor has reached out to you on LinkedIn or by cold-calling your phone with a slick sales pitch. Only buy benefits (or keep existing ones) because they support your organization or fill a need felt by your employees and their families. And don’t do surveys unless you plan to act on the results – once you have solicited feedback, use it.
During our strategy sessions, we always ask our clients about upcoming business plans. It’s important to know if you are opening a new plant/office; particularly if it is in another state or country. Are you hiring ahead of planned growth? Trying to catch up on hiring because growth was more rapid than expected? Is there going to be a reduction in force? A change in ownership? All of these, and more, will impact benefit plans. Get a non-disclosure agreement if needed, but let your partners help you by sharing your plans.
My team follows a carefully crafted process for maximizing employee benefits and helping our clients develop and then implement and manage their strategic plan.
We review every client every year to identify if their needs have changed or if circumstances will necessitate new approaches. We bring market information and our best predictions of the future and our clients bring their goals and plans. Together, we create a better future for them.
EPIC offers these opinions for general information only. EPIC does not intend this material to be, nor may any person receiving this information construe or rely on this material as, tax or legal advice. The matters addressed in this article and any related discussions or correspondence should be reviewed and discussed with legal counsel prior to acting or relying on these materials.
EVP, Employee Benefits – Concord, CA