The number one problem in the Permian Basin is recruiting and retaining quality employees. Benefits, including health and supplemental insurance and retirement offerings, are vital to solving the problem.
By this time, I hope most of my readers have selected an online, full-service human resource management system (HRIS) to service the organization from job inception to an employee’s retirement. If not, then what I am about to propose will be all the more complex and time-consuming for the tired Human Resource Lady who spends her day pushing papers.
September is the month to prepare for open enrollment for 2023, and benefits are vital to attracting and retaining engaged employees. The most important task for the HR lady in September is preparing the organization for open enrollment insurance benefits that happen annually for the employees. Costs have skyrocketed, and every organization needs to be shopping benefits. The HR Lady should be shopping costs and coverage from the current broker and at least two other brokers offering similar services.
If the organization has an HRIS product running your HR functions, you are ready to integrate and upload the updated benefits into the system so that employees can enroll in their 2023 benefits before Thanksgiving. Yes, before Thanksgiving. Why? It takes a month with the holidays to verify that employees have selected correctly so that each employee’s deductions are correct when the first payroll is run in January. Employees care about their paychecks.
There is nothing more complicated or confusing for employees than insurance. The employer must assist the employees with both face-to-face and recorded webinars about what products are available to them and the cost to the employee. Remove as much confusion as possible and control the message. Have sessions and online availability so the spouse can participate in hearing about the insurance product offerings.
Employers must do everything they can to educate the employees on benefit offerings. Take the mystery away, and employees will be grateful. If the organization has an HRIS, the HR Lady will have more time to spend with the employees. Time is money, but so is turnover.
Control the message about benefits by offering health and supplemental benefits via group plans. The only way the boss knows that the essentials are conveyed to all the employees is to ensure the broker explains the products well. The broker will reinforce how much value the benefits are to the employees. The broker’s assertions, when they are attractive and transparent and fully executed, serve as a kind of retention tool for the organization. Do not play fast and loose with anything that might be said to employees.
How does the boss know the insurance broker is not telling Joe what benefits are offered down the street? The broker needs to be loyal to the organization. I am not making this stuff up.
Insurance is a benefit, and if the organization has between two and 50 full-time equivalents (FTE) employees, group policies can be an option. Offering group products at group prices is an employee engagement and retention tool and a good one. Group rates are much cheaper than individual plan rates. There is nothing wrong with individual plans, but as the employer, your goal should be to do better by every employee. Offer group insurance policies for supplemental benefits such as life insurance and short- and long-term disability.
If the organization is over 50 FTEs, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires some benefits be offered to employees. Remember, the better the benefit options, the better off the organization is in attracting and retaining employees. Generally speaking, the larger the organization, the better the purchasing power as well.
The HR Lady will appreciate seeing the employees enrolled in pre-and post-tax plans via the group insurance policy. The HR Lady and accounting department will have only two monthly insurance bills to reconcile. One for health insurance and one for supplemental benefits.
If the organization offers other individual policies that are portable, go ahead. Individual policies should not duplicate what the organization offers via a group policy. Also, if individual policies run through payroll as pre-tax deductions, the HR Lady is reconciling yet another bill, and the employee who purchased the individual policy cannot drop the policy until the next open enrollment. If employees want individually priced policies, then they can pay for them with a check or automatic payment. Employees will also pay post-tax and can cancel the policy whenever they choose. Are there any bells yet regarding employees finding out that they have a bill for insurance that they thought they needed and the organization was already providing similar if not the same policies? Buying insurance is complicated. Help the employees.
Employers must simplify the enrollment process. With an HRIS, employees go into their employee portal in the system and select their insurance benefits for 2023. The file feed will go over from the HRIS to the insurance group providers in November, and there will be time to test the file feeds in the end; there will be no surprises for the employees in January.
In the end, if the boss’s spouse wants excellent benefits, so will the employees’ spouses. Married couples need time to shop costs and plan because, in today’s world, both spouses generally work and are offered insurance. Many times, the spouses select insurance through the respective employer. However, the cost of both the dependents and supplemental benefits makes a difference. Every employee needs to understand what the organization provides and at what cost.
Full disclosure: I have gone back and forth about having individual and supplemental policies for my family. It is a personal choice, but it must be well-informed. Educate every employee.
Do more than the competitor. Align benefits with the culture of the organization. Be transparent and ethical at all times.
I want to thank Jeff Hughes, VP of the Energy Division of Homes Murphy and Associates, for contributing to this article. Jeff’s contact information is email@example.com
“Your employees are the heart of your organization.” Dr. Michele Harmon is a Human Resource professional, supporting clients in Texas and New Mexico that range in size from five to more than 3,000 employees. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org