Dear Leaders

A weekly letter with actionable leadership ideas.

Benefits Administration

By Hamza Shayk

Dear Leaders,

A company’s benefits package can be a very significant part of its total expenses, but in many companies, benefits are not really viewed as expenses. Instead, because of the need to hire and retain top-quality employees, the benefits package is considered a key asset that must be maintained if not increased. While a rich package can certainly be an exceptional tool in the race to acquire the best and the brightest, it is also sometimes viewed as an entitlement that is absolutely, positively never reduced. The correct view of a benefits package is that, irrespective of its worth, it is still an expense and therefore must be carefully managed.

Most of the cost savings to be gleaned from the benefits area apply to specific types of benefits. However, it is also possible to strip some costs out of the administration of benefits.

Forms and FAQs:

One cost-saving measure is to convert all benefits-related forms and manuals to PDF files that can be posted on the corporate intranet site. In addition, the site can include a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers; both items prevent employees from having to contact the human resources staff for information.

Benefits Standardization:

There should be a single benefits package used throughout the company and a single set of procedures for administering it. By taking this approach, the human resources staff needs to be trained on only one benefits package. Also, it may be possible to centrally administer benefits from a single location, which reduces the amount of administration personnel who need to be involved in outlying locations. Thus, benefits standardization can significantly streamline the administrative staff.

Benefit Alternatives:

Some employees obtain bulk of their insurance benefits through their spouse’s employer. If so, they may prefer an alternative to their standard benefits package. A common trade-off is to give them extra vacation time. By doing so, the company exchanges the “hard” costs of benefits avoided for vacation time that can be scheduled so that it does not require additional paid staff to fill in during an absence. This is a clear win for both parties.

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