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There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a serious labor shortage, and financial executives across the country are feeling the effects. In this tight labor market, we’ve never been more aware that people are our greatest asset. If you weren’t already, you are probably taking a close look at your benefits and identifying ways to maximize your ROI, better attract and retain talent, and improve bottom lines and to control long-term costs.
One of the most important parts of an attractive benefits package is, of course, health. A recent study found that half of employed Americans make work decisions such as changing jobs or staying in a position largely based on their health benefit options. So how can you improve your offerings in 2022? Below are five key partnership questions to ask in your meetings with your broker that can guide your decisions on everything from funding models to the benefits themselves:
- What type of partner do you want to have?
I would say the best thing you can do is partner with people who care as much as you do about your employees and are committed to evolving to meet their needs.
When it comes to your current benefits provider, ask yourself: do they really appreciate my feedback? Your partner should be eager to join you in the process of change, adaptation, and feedback until you have landed together on a product that truly meets the needs of your business and your employees.
At Gravie we have very high customer retention, and I really believe this is due to our approach of listening and responding to what our broker and employer clients express what they need. We are constantly asking our customers for feedback. Does your health partner do the same? If not, ask yourself if they are really an asset to your organization.
- What do your employees expect from their health benefits?
COVID-19 and its effects have fundamentally changed what employees want and need from their employers – and health benefits are no exception. Listening to your employees is the first step in identifying what they want most from their health benefits.
Once you have identified the main needs of your employees, you can move on to assess whether your current partners can meet their needs or if perhaps it is time to make a change.
- How are your current benefits partners doing?
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how to pivot and evolve quickly. We shouldn’t wait until registration season to assess whether our partners are working for us or not. Instead, we should always challenge them to listen to our feedback and therefore evolve their products to better meet the needs of our employees.
While some plans may seem better at first, taking the time to evaluate them once your team has started using (or not using) their perks will really show you if they are working well. It’s also a good way to determine if your employees have a good understanding of the resources made available to them through their plan. Analyze your claims data, whether your employees are regularly taking advantage of the ancillary services provided by your carrier and how they are using their plans. Also combine this hard data with more qualitative information: have your employees shared positive or negative experiences with member services, does HR hear more complaints from certain demographics of your business than others (e.g. example, single vs. married, kids vs. no kids, etc.) and are potential employees really impressed with your benefits conversations at the bargaining table?
In addition to assessing how the partnership works for your employees, don’t forget to take stock of how it works for your business. Do your partners offer you advantages that help reduce administrative burdens? Do you reap perks like discounts on surpluses, and is your partner focused on predictability and even a fixed cash flow? Good partners will not only care about your employees, but your business as well.
- What type of investment are you prepared to make?
I would be remiss if I did not mention how costs factor into partnership decisions. Of course, in the end, costs will always be a key consideration for financial executives. While you will need to do your due diligence to make sure the price is right, I would say the real test of whether you made a good choice will be determined by the value you see in return, and the health benefits. are ultimately a long term investment.
The initial goals you may be looking to achieve with your health benefits are likely focused on employee impression, whether that is recruiting new team members or retaining existing members. Then, from a continuing, long-term perspective, you need a health plan that will actually do what it says it will do – support the health of its limbs. Is your plan the one that will improve the well-being of your employees and lower costs for everyone over time? Otherwise, saving a little money here or there doesn’t matter if he doesn’t move needles. Once you’re in the right bracket with the investment, the nuances of cost are pale compared to finding a high-quality, innovative partner who is as committed to the long-term health of your employees as you are.
- What Type of Funding Model is Best for Your Business?
When it comes to how your plan is funded, there is a wide range of models that balance the level of risk a business assumes with the flexibility available to it. Choosing the right model for your organization, whether it’s self-insurance, tiered funding, or full insurance, will be critical when making partnership decisions.
In a season marked by gaping labor shortages, everyone from McDonalds to Silicon Valley is trying to woo employees with the latest and greatest health benefits on the market. When you start to make benefit decisions, carefully review your offerings and make sure you use every arrow in your quiver to attract and retain talent. It starts with identifying the right partners.
Charles Marentette is Gravie’s financial director.