6 Essential Dynamics of Caring for Your Employees

Casey Strunk in Living room sitting on a bench.

Why is insuring your employees such a confusing, murky process?

I won’t sugarcoat it.

Insuring employees can be a confusing, murky, hidden process. It can feel like the deck is stacked against you. It can be overwhelming, scary, and expensive.

It often feels like no matter what you do, who you choose, how much you pay, no one is happy.

It doesn’t have to feel this bad. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Better is always possible.

Because we assume the process of creating benefits packages is going to be a negative one, it is human nature to procrastinate.

It is also common to have low expectations and simply renew your current contract – despite being unhappy with your current situation.

In choosing either of these approaches, you relinquish your ability to gather real, actionable information and make a choice you, and your employees, will feel good about.

To accomplish this, you will need to schedule the time and make a focused effort, to better understand the 6 Essential Dynamics of Caring for Your Employees – uncovering the data necessary for an illuminating assessment and, ultimately, a sound choice.

1. Uncover the Data

Questions are the name of the game when determining what information needs to be uncovered and how to weigh that information.

What are your priorities?

  • Is budget the number one factor?
  • Or is the physician or hospital network critical to your decision?
  • Is it possible your employees are already satisfied?

At this point, you may not know, and an employee survey is your first step to gather feedback on the effectiveness and satisfaction of their current benefits as well as their wishlist items.

Depending on the size of your organization this can be done via an online survey, focus groups, or one-on-one conversations.

The results may surprise you and indicate all that is currently needed is some tweaking of your current plan. Alternatively, it may uncover a general unhappiness with your current benefits plan – and possibly a threat to employee satisfaction and retention goals.

Sometimes surveys uncover that employees do not know the details of their benefits plans and that they feel murky and unsure about their benefits.

This scenario creates an incredible opportunity to begin an education campaign to help them understand what is available to them and how they can access their benefits as they learn what their employer is offering. Strunk Group often visits our client’s place of business, meeting with employees and answering questions. We have the hard conversation, taking questions and providing information, so you don’t have to.

2. Establish Your Current Costs

We offer a web-based tool to help gather and assess information that helps guide decision-making when choosing a plan. But it can be done on your own.

Gathering and analyzing the information necessary to determine your options relies upon the accuracy of understanding the current landscape of demographics, health profiles, compensation, etc.

Here’s what you will need:

  1. Start with your current employees’ demographic information, including age, gender, marital status, and number of dependents. This information will help you determine their specific needs.
  2. Within regulations, collect the health-related information necessary, including pre-existing medical conditions, chronic illnesses, and overall health status.
  3. Examine compensation agreements and information. What benefits have been promised in your compensation structure? This may affect your ability to pay for healthcare costs and inform the types of benefits required. Similarly, labor or union agreements will lay our specific terms and conditions that must be met.
  4. Do some market research, collecting and weighing the healthcare benefits offered by other similar companies in your industry and region. Benchmarking against competitors can provide insights into industry standards and best practices. And if you learn you are offering more, or better, you’ve just added to your recruitment offering.
  5. Finally, go deeper than your line item and understand the cost of healthcare benefits, including insurance premiums, deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket expenses. This information is crucial for budgeting and cost-sharing decisions. Analyze historical healthcare claims data to identify patterns of healthcare utilization and cost.

Have you considered benefits as factors in retention and, alternatively, employee turnover?

High turnover is disruptive and costly, understanding the role of benefits in this can be eye-opening and actionable information.

3. Transparency for the win.

You just gathered extremely important information.

Share what you can and invite your employees into the company’s decision-making process in a way that shows them that their benefits are a priority that is taken seriously and responsibly.

Give them opportunities to offer feedback and input so they feel they have a voice.

Doing so illuminates the challenges and opportunities and encourages employee understanding and ownership of both the process and the ultimate decision.

They will likely value knowing how much effort has gone into understanding their needs and offering them the best benefit package available.

4. Get Curious

One size does not fit all.

When you think about the fact that there are a handful of major medical carriers that all offer a portfolio of 50+ plans to choose from, there are a lot of variables to take into consideration.

All of your employees will have different concerns and priorities depending on where they are in their life. It becomes very overwhelming when you think about making everyone in your company happy with one carrier.

And we have not even mentioned employee needs around voluntary benefits like dental, vision, life, disability, accident, cancer, etc.

While seeking benefits solutions, it’s smart to explore your options beyond the major carriers.

While large established insurance carriers offer comprehensive plans, they may not adequately address the needs and budget constraints of your organization.

Smaller, or niche insurance companies, as well as self-funded plans, may offer flexibility and tailored coverage that aligns with your employees’ health requirements and your company’s financial objectives.

Just be aware that though this is a viable, effective, and sometimes ideal solution, it may involve a high level of hand-holding until employees feel comfortable and secure.

5. Create a Single Source of Truth

As committed advocates, Strunk consistently acts in the best interests of an organization and its people. (Read more about this here.)

One of the ways we do this is by creating a platform, a website, where we build and manage the enrollment process that employees have access to 24/7 365 to review details, make changes, etc. Data flows to carriers, integrates with compliance partners for COBRA, and ERISA, and is a single source of the truth.

Offering your employees one place, easily identifiable and accessible where they can learn about their benefits, ask questions, and review their individual information, builds trust, collaboration, and ownership as employees no longer feel subject to vague, top-down decisions they are forced to accept.

6. Remember the humans

You provide benefits because you care about the humans who work for you.

Once you remember this, the rest becomes about the process.

Avoid the murky, confusion and give yourself the gift – the luxury – of time.

Time to assemble the relevant information.

Time to assess your needs and constraints.

Time to fully understand what truly matters to your employees. And time to educate and inform.

Doing so transforms a tense, complicated process into an opportunity to connect, build trust, and provide for your team.

See how supportive employee benefits services can be.

Have questions? We’re excited to learn more about your business. We’ll answer your questions and provide a complimentary quote for all your benefits and HR needs.