Benefits have been the subject of attention for the last six years. Need I remind anyone about the gut wrenching decisions that face organizations at this time of year. Benefit costs are always increasing. There is a need to protect margins. Do you change plan designs and coverages? Do you adjust cost sharing assumptions and contribution rates? If so, what is the value of decreasing morale? When will retention become an issue?
Once those decisions are made, you face the difficult task of open enrollment. Getting employees to understand what has changes and why is important. Then it is critical for employees to make intelligent decisions in a timely manner. Benefit Administration is always a major headache that requires accuracy and diligent follow-up.
Whether it is a feeling of guilt in changing the plans or just the need for accurate administrative communication, what is often lost at this time of year is the most important part of the whole Benefit process: Communication to employees. You are providing them, as part of their Total Compensation Package, a set of products that should be highly valued to themselves and their families. This needs to be reinforced. Even when benefits are being cut or contributions are being increased, the story is still the same. The employee is receiving something at a lower cost than they could purchase independently. Make sure your communication program stress that the glass is at least half full.
Perhaps this should be communicated several times per year to remind employees of the value they receive in the benefit package.