HR.com: HR Benefits Strategies For 2023
Listen to Employee Feedback
Remember, communication is a two-way street. That means listening to employee concerns about their benefit plans. Questions you might want to consider: are your current offerings meeting their needs? Are employees asking for benefits or programs you don’t currently offer—or DO offer, but your employees are somehow unaware? What are your employees still confused about?
Feedback may be direct (focus groups, surveys, emails to HR) or indirect (calls to customer service, questions to benefits advocates, low program utilization, administrative issues due to paperwork errors, etc.). A careful analysis will show what benefit strategy tweaks should be considered to provide more, or clearer communication as you plan for 2024.
Gather Your Team
Today’s HR teams are already managing many areas, including recruitment, retention, return to work protocols, and other priorities. It is critical to have a team of trusted partners to fill in the gaps and allow HR to focus on strategic areas. For many employers, brokers are providing that support, either directly or indirectly (by identifying outside partners).
For example, a recent survey by Optavise showed that 95% of brokers are reporting moderate to high demand for help with benefits communications and 77% are seeing similar demand for health care transparency and advocacy support. Further, brokers have seen almost a 60% increase in clients adding voluntary benefits in response to employee demands and recruiting pressures.
Employers are also relying on brokers for help with ERISA and ACA compliance and reporting. Seventy-three percent of brokers say their clients rely heavily on them to provide compliance services. Demand is likely to increase as new regulations become effective and the need for to create materials and reports, such as employer shared responsibility reports required by the ACA, summary plan descriptions, surprise billing notices, etc.
Brokers can also vet and recommend outside partners to assist with onboarding, communications efforts and year-round employee support. Benefits educators can answer employee questions about their benefits and enroll new hires; advocates can work with employees to resolve billing questions, find providers and arrange appointments, help patients navigate their diagnoses and treatment recommendations and identify cost-effective treatment options.
By partnering with brokers and other external partners, employers can ensure their employees are receiving accurate and consistent benefits messaging, as well as individualized support to manage their health and their wallets.
Having this team in place well before planning begins for the next plan year can ensure that all parties are aligned and primed to make next year’s enrollment a success.
As the macroeconomic environment is expected to be challenging in the coming year, it is increasingly important for employees to understand how they can obtain the needed care and financial protections without stretching their wallets to the breaking point. By listening to employee concerns, communicating year-round, and having a strong team in place to assist both HR and the workforce, employers can ensure their employees are positioned for success this year and in the future.
Kim Buckey, Vice President, Client Services, Optavise