Articles

Blog

Read our recent stories

financial-wellness

How Voluntary Benefits Can Improve Employees’ Financial Wellness

By | Blog | No Comments

Running a business can be a rewarding experience, however, it may come with many responsibilities as well. This can be especially true when it comes to helping to support and encourage your employees. Because the success and happiness of your employees can often directly affect your company, making sure you help to provide them with the tools they need to get ahead in life can be a beneficial move for both you and them.

The Stressors Employees Face

Even though the economy has improved, the reality is that many employees are still struggling. Many may even be living paycheck to paycheck. This kind of financial strain can add stress to an employee’s life and could ultimately affect their job performance. Not only that, but an employee that is struggling to maintain financial wellness at your company may begin to look elsewhere for a workplace that is more supportive of them. Sometimes an employee may leave a job for another one that offers a similar wage, simply because the benefits they offer are more suited to their needs.

The Importance of Providing Employees With Options

One way that you can help to support your employees and ensure that their needs are being met is by offering a variety of voluntary benefits. Voluntary benefits come in all shapes and sizes, but they are all built to insulate your employees if they face something unexpected from life.  Those unexpected events could wreak havoc on employees that are living paycheck to paycheck.  One common kind of voluntary benefit is short term disability insurance.  This type of insurance helps provide income to employees who may fall ill or have an injury that prevents them from working for a certain period of time.  Voluntary benefits such as cancer or critical illness insurance help cushion the costs that are certain to come outside of what medical insurance covers for people that suffer from cancer, heart disease or other covered illnesses.   Finally, some non-traditional voluntary benefits such as financial wellness benefits that include services such as financial coaching, online financial support tools, and free online financial wellness seminars are great additions to any benefits program.

The Bottom Line

When you’re running a business, there can be many things to keep track of, and one of these things is often making sure that your employees feel supported. Employee satisfaction can not only help to improve office morale, but it can have an impact on productivity and other areas of the business as well.

Although it may not always be clear what the best way to look out for your employees is, by taking some time and doing your research you can help to build plans that can be good for both your employees and your business.

outsourcing-benefits-administration

The Right Time to Start Outsourcing Benefits Administration

By | Blog | No Comments

Every day Human Resource Departments are being asked to do more with less and that is creating stress on them, their organizations and ultimately the resources they are responsible for…their employees. HR leaders are searching for ways to more effectively run their departments. While there are many ideas out there, one such idea has received a lot of positive momentum recently and that is outsourcing or partnering with a benefit expert to offload many tedious, complex, and confusing accountabilities associated with benefits enrollment and administration. Businesses spend a substantial percentage of their revenue on their employee benefits that is why brining in an expert that can help you steer through benefits enrollment, technology and administration is becoming a crucial strategy today.

The Merits

Outsourcing benefits administration comes with many advantages.  It allows you to shift the workload, freeing up your HR team for other critical tasks. While this saves valuable time, it also frees up their mindshare. While this may seem like a small thing, it takes a lot of time and attention to keep up with all that’s needed to manage benefits enrollment, keep up with the latest technology, and all the rules and regulations associated with benefits administrations. Finally, outsourcing benefits also helps you reduce your liability associated with offering benefits to employees.

How to Get a Good Administrator

You should have a good selection strategy when choosing the ideal administrator. Ensure you opt for an administrator who uses the latest technology and shows the aptitude of keeping up with the latest trends. When seeking bids on coverage, ensure you state how your plan design looks like as well as your administrative requirements. Moreover, you should find a way of measuring the administrator’s performance. Check on areas such as accuracy and timeliness. The best way of measuring performance is by inquiring from your staff if they are content and happy with the service.

Difference Between Co-Sourcing and Outsourcing

Co-sourcing implies that your business maintains access to reviewing and making changes to the present processes in the hands of the outsourcing firm, as the organization handles things such as data transfers, benefits enrollment and recruit on-boarding. Outsourcing assists firms with scarce resources to efficiently manage their benefits administration with fewer resources.

When Should You Outsource Your Benefits Administration?

When accuracy and timeliness of the benefits administration begin to slip, then you should start outsourcing. As your business starts to grow, its payment and payroll requirements become complex and subject to more regulatory and employee scrutiny. You need to get an adequately functioning payroll process that meets its demands without errors or delays, such as outsourcing. Additionally, in case you are promoting more people to senior positions only to see them putting more time on corrective measures and coordinating, then you are spending more money on payroll than you would when using an outsourcing firm.

It would be best if you opt for an administrator who can provide updates on progress and reports to allow you to measure their performance. Watch out also for indicators for the need of hiring an outsourcing agency. These indicators may include a top-heavy payroll team, a high training budget and so on.

Coronavirus Update

By | Blog | No Comments

Dear valued friends, customers and partners,

During these challenging times, we wish all our clients, friends, family, and employees good health. We are all living through alterations of our daily routines, which are causing unique anxieties and health concerns across the country. As limitations and changes to our daily lives arise, we are working as hard as we can to avoid changes in our business. While even the near future is uncertain, our commitment to you is still strong.

To truly make it through the COVID-19 crisis, businesses will need to find ways to maintain operations until the virus passes. The CDC is providing guidance to reduce the size of events and gatherings, and that carries over to the workplace. While some businesses are temporarily closing their doors or restricting hours of operation, there are many that need more robust solutions. Fortunately, BeneChoice has the technology to keep our operations running and aid our clients in meeting their benefit enrollment and administration needs during these tough times.

Many companies are concerned about handling their benefits questions and managing their employees’ coverage options. Please know that our BeneChoice teams are here to help. We specialize in enrolling employees anywhere and at any time. On any normal week, BeneChoice’s Benefits Counselors support dozens of on-site enrollments for our customers all around the country. We can still support all those enrollments and more, even if we can’t come on site for a while. Our technology securely leverages the cloud, so we can easily and compliantly connect our highly trained Benefits Counselors virtually with your employees and continue to provide that personal touch necessary to help your employees make the right benefit choices.  Our services provide both a very important human touchpoint for employees in a difficult time and the ability to effectively manage your benefits programs on schedule when employees need those programs the most.  

Encourage your workforce to follow the guidance offered by professionals, and to seek help if needed. Remember, while businesses may be restricted, they can still be productive if owners and employees think strategically and stay as healthy and safe as possible.

If you would like more information about how BeneChoice can help transform your annual open enrollment you can review our video here.  

And as always do not hesitate to reach out to any of our team members if you have any questions about how we can help. We wish you the best.

Nash Skiles 

Co-Founder of BeneChoice Enrollment Solutions & Technology

benefits administration

Measuring a Benefits Administration Process’ Efficiency

By | Blog | No Comments

Administering benefits can be one of the biggest challenges that HR representatives face. Though it is a necessary process, benefits administration can easily become a headache. While it is impossible to guarantee an enrollment period that is free of issues, there are a handful of precautionary measures you can take. Measure the efficiency of your own process by exploring some of these common problems you might encounter down the line.

Education Is Crucial

A large chunk of problems experienced during an enrollment period comes from misinformation. Studies have shown that more than half of employees wind up enrolling in the wrong health plan for their needs because they are not properly educated on their options. While you do not need to spoon feed every detail to employees, you should organize an information session where people can voice questions or receive guidance.

Lack of Order

Benefits administration can also prove difficult when there is no centralized place for benefit information to be stored. When health insurance information is located on one server and 401(k) data on another, employees can easily forget where to go when they have questions. Investing in an integrated HR system can help solve this, as it compiles all relevant information into one app. Not only is this useful for the employees, but the features of these integrated systems can also make your job as an HR representative a lot easier.

Often, these programs will feature options that help you manually create a benefits plan each year with ease. In addition, you can explore features that will help you collect vital data, monitor elections and declines, and streamline your entire process.

Create a Simpler Process

The secret to a simple benefits administration process is thinking ahead and trying to stop problems before they begin. Explore your options with integrated HR systems and help educate employees about their benefits to improve efficiency along the way.

cancer benefits

The True Cost of Cancer

By | Blog | No Comments

Recent studies have revealed some startling information in regards to how much of a financial burden a cancer diagnosis can be to patients. Reports say that cancer health coverage can cost a patient roughly $90,000 on average. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness is difficult enough and the price associated with combating cancer can make a bad situation much worse.

Though cancer has been a serious threat to people worldwide for many decades, new developments are always in the work. Unfortunately, these cutting-edge techniques often come with an even heftier price tag. While these numbers can be staggering, it is important to remember there are solutions worth considering.

Finding the best cancer health coverage can be difficult, but it is far from impossible. Cancer insurance is a type of policy that can help relieve policyholders of the financial burdens that come along with the intense, ongoing treatments associated with the disease. In many cases, the plans will pay cash indemnity benefits, which can allow the policyholder to use the cash toward medical bills, cost of living expenses, and anything else needed during this difficult time.

According to research, it is not uncommon for a person diagnosed with cancer to spend his or her entire life savings to combat the disease. What’s more, it is said that critical illnesses are responsible for more than half of all known bankruptcies in the country. These financial hits can make bouncing back from treatment difficult, as there is little-to-no money available for necessities. In order to avoid this, you want to think ahead and find a type of cancer insurance that can help you focus on care, rather than the costs.

To protect yourself and your finances, it is important to explore insurance options that will help you restore your health without destroying your savings. Look into your options for cancer health coverage and learn about how you can get the help you need in a sensible and affordable way.

voluntary benefits

How to Think Creatively About Voluntary Benefit Offerings

By | Blog | No Comments

One of the best ways to recruit and retain the best talent is through offering voluntary benefits. Some of these benefits include dental and vision insurance coverages, but some companies are thinking out of the box an offering unique benefits that suit their employees and the company culture. Two ways to improve think creatively about which ones you offer are to listen to their preferences and offer an understanding of the benefits.

Preferences

Some companies are offering new voluntary benefits by asking for employee preferences or by asking industry contacts for suggestions like pet insurance, gym benefits and informal paid time off plans. Using your existing employees as a brainstorming resource can give you ideas you may not think of otherwise as well as give you some insight into which struggles your personnel are facing. This can include everything from needing financial advice or help with student loans to ride-sharing programs and increased parking access.

Understanding

One common complaint that employees have about voluntary benefits is not understanding which insurance plans to choose or which benefits will be the best for them to take. If you offer one-on-one advice for choosing benefits as well as for problems such as saving for retirement or paying off student loans, then you can make a huge headway in increasing work satisfaction and company morale. This can take the form of electronic classes, a dedicated human resources contact or even routine or mandatory classes.

The more creatively you can think about voluntary benefit offerings, the better you can retain and recruit key personnel. As overall culture changes, so does the interest in unique voluntary benefit offerings such as help with student loans, pet insurance and more. You can find creative ideas by asking for employee preferences and offering classes to understand voluntary benefits offered.

How to Showcase Your Corporate Culture in Benefits Offerings

By | Blog | No Comments

A strong corporate culture is essential for employee retention. While there are many ways to boost your culture and show your employees they’re valued members of the team, one powerful way is through your benefits offerings. Discover how a customized benefits package can increase your employee retention and incentivize your employees today.

One way to improve your benefits offerings is to offer certain voluntary benefits and other non-traditional benefits in an off-cycle enrollment.  The certain benefit can be offered at any time of the year, rather than a single, short enrollment window. This gives each of your employee’s time to focus on these value-added benefits that often complement the core health insurance offering and provide a diverse offering for your diverse workforce.

Next, select the benefits that are proven to be valuable in your industry. Case studies, industry research, and personal surveys among your employees are excellent ways to determine the best benefits for your particular employees. Don’t invest in a program that doesn’t align with your company values or increase interest in your employees.

Finally, choosing a powerful branding tone and message is a great way to keep a consistent, positive corporate culture. Use the same phrases, titles and other branding details throughout your benefits packages to promote a unified culture and help your employees feel like their part of a unique and valuable team.

Whether you’re just getting ready to showcase your first benefits package or your company needs a way to change gears and offer a refreshing new take on their popular benefits, choose a system that promotes company culture, aligns with your values and meets the needs and desires of your employees. A strong benefits package is an essential way to attract new employees and retain your valued group of current employees. Leverage this strong corporate culture by continuing to grow your business and bring in the best talent in the industry.

The Advantages of Offering College Tuition Assistance in Worksite Benefits Programs

By | Blog | No Comments

With college tuition rising, scholarships and tuition benefits are becoming highly prized among individuals of all ages. If you’re looking for an excellent benefit to encourage your employees and draw in new ones, consider adding a worksite (voluntary) benefits package that can offer help fund employees kids’ education with college rewards tuition points.

When employees enroll they receive Tuition Rewards Points which increase each year they continue to be employed and enrolled. Each tuition reward is a guaranteed one dollar reduction in tuition at any participating college.

This benefit is typically available for your employees or anyone in their family, such as children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews. There are a couple of options with these plans, some are tied to retirement balances, others simply add a flat amount of tuition reward points for every child, every year.

The amount placed into this scholarship account typically has no limit, but most colleges stipulate that the scholarship cannot exceed tuition for one year. There is a wide range of colleges who are joining scholarship benefit programs, so their families can still enjoy a wide range of potential schools to apply for.

This benefit is an excellent way to encourage existing employees and to be able to recruit top talent!  Imagine being able to recruit employees by saying, “At our company, we help put your kids through college!” This is a powerful incentive to encourage employee retention and to attract the best talent pool.

Discover whether the college tuition benefit is right for your company. Whether you have 25 employees in a budding small business or operate a large international corporation, this dynamic scholarship opportunity is an attractive option for employees seeking the best benefits in your industry. Find out the exact rules and regulations regarding a college tuition benefit plan and get ready to create a powerful incentive for future employees in your industry.

enrollment-benechoice

How to Avoid Open Enrollment Nightmares 

By | Blog | No Comments

It’s almost Halloween, and you know what that means.

 

The grocery store aisles fill with candy, costume parties are everywhere, and monsters lurk around every corner…

 

That’s right— we’re talking about open enrollment.

 

As a broker or HR manager, you know that open enrollment is scarier than anything a haunted house could cook up! 

 

Deadline after deadline, cleaning pages and pages of data, fielding calls from employees and staying until 10 PM every night to get things straight.

 

You’re not the only ones who get stressed around open enrollment, though. Employees get stressed out, too, because they often don’t know what the differences are between health plans and have no idea what they should choose. They know that once open enrollment ends, they’re locked into whatever plan they chose for the entire year.

 

Talk about stressful! We see this all the time. Employees don’t understand their options and they often make incorrect decisions.

 

Why is this bad?

 

Well, beyond the fact that you want employees to have the best health care plans, studies have shown that overall employee perception of the quality of their employer is centered around benefits.

 

Even when pay is high, employees’ perception of the company will not be as high as it would be if they know they have great benefits.

 

Many employers have great benefits. But when you lack the time and tools to communicate that effectively to your employees, they don’t realize how rich the benefits are and their perception doesn’t change.  

 

So how do you avoid open enrollment nightmares and ensure that employees get both the best coverage possible and understand their benefits?

 

  1. Define your objective. Begin with the end in mind. Where do you want to end up? The CFO or owner might aim to lower the overall expense and improve productivity. Meanwhile, HR’s goal might be to help employees understand their benefits and simply accomplish open enrollment without enough staff. 

 

There can be different objectives at play, so it’s important to have everyone discuss and define them together. 

 

As you think about your objective, you’ll want to ensure two things:

 

  • It’s results-oriented. What exactly are you trying to do? Get a higher percentage of employees enrolled in a high deductible gap plan? Get people to put more money in their HSAs? Educate people in the wellness arena? Increase contributions to FSAs? Define the exact results you want.

 

  • Your methods are up-to-date. There are a variety of ways to communicate with employees. Know your audience, so you can connect with them in the right ways! Are they baby boomers, millennials, or generation Xers? These groups all have different needs, wants, and communication styles. 

 

Make sure you also understand the location and accessibility of your audience. For example, are your employees working in a factory? Do they travel? Are they home-based? If you’re trying to reach truck drivers (who are remote and on the move), you’ll need to communicate with them differently than you would with people who work right in the office.

 

  1. Launch a communication campaign that engages your specific population. There are many ways to get your message out that employers often don’t think of. Depending on your audience, this could include:

 

  • Newsletters
  • Emails
  • Mass texts
  • Mass voicemails
  • Memos
  • A website
  • Social media

 

  1. Customize your message and have clear communication pieces to support it. Materials like videos help educate employees in the office, while podcasts can share open enrollment information for remote employees who travel. Create a dedicated library of information about open enrollment delivered through all manners of support.

 

  1. Communicate a clear call to action. Will your open enrollment be passive or active? If an employee doesn’t have to take action, that’s passive enrollment. Remember that given the option to do nothing, that’s what employees will do. 

 

Your job is to ask: does this support our objective? 

 

Think about your call-to-action. Are there educational meetings you want employees to attend? What are the open enrollment dates? Do they need to update beneficiary information? Are you doing a dependent audit? What about spouse exclusions or the nicotine surcharge? 

 

Whatever your call-to-action, it should support your objective.

 

  1. Measure results. Measuring results against your objectives as you go through open enrollment allows you to see what’s happening on a daily basis. That’s how we work at BEST: we always know what’s going on and that way we can act accordingly. If there’s a pocket of employees in a department where no one has even logged in yet, we know that on day 2 or 3 as opposed to when open enrollment has ended and it’s too late. 

 

Tracking the results live means that you can adjust your methods if you see by day 3 or 4 that objectives aren’t getting met. Maybe you need a new message or a new communications strategy, or you need to speak with a department head about getting the message to her particular group of employees. If you wait until the end of open enrollment to notice that what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s too late. 

 

After you get through this year’s open enrollment, the best thing you can do to avoid a nightmare next year is to start educating employees year-round on their benefits. Instead of waiting until open enrollment to explain to employees what an HSA is and why they should maximize it, educate them in the middle of the year so they already know what to do when open enrollment rolls around.

 

We know this is a lot to process. 

 

If you’re still feeling the open enrollment dread, outsourcing to a strategic third party can help. 

 

A strategic third party like BeneChoice can simplify the process of open enrollment, reduce your cost, automate and track results, execute better solutions with a more tactical approach, audit for carrier discrepancies, handle eligibility management and offer year-round support. 

 

For third parties like us, we’re always in open enrollment. About 50-60% of companies renew their benefits in December or January, but the rest do it throughout the year. That means we deal with open enrollment day-in and day-out. 

 

At BeneChoice, we support over 1,000 clients with open enrollment throughout the year. So say goodbye to the monster in the closet and embrace a solution streamlined through technology that can get you the results you need.

 

To learn more about how BeneChoice can help you achieve your objectives and avoid open enrollment nightmares, click here.

Relieve the Stress of Benefits Administration

By | Blog | No Comments

Benefits administration can cause a great deal of stress within your HR department. Whether you’re heading into the stressful open enrollment period or your staff is feeling stressed after a particularly challenging week, here are some key ways to relieve stress and create a positive company culture in your HR department.

Practice Moderation in the Workplace

Balancing new projects with routine work can be especially challenging for an HR department. If your employees need to focus on open enrollment tasks while juggling their daily workload, this can lead to stress and feelings of burnout. Find ways to alleviate these tasks and assist your employees in balancing their expanded workload.

Communicate Across the Generation Line

How many generations are represented in your company? Many HR departments are working with as many as four generations of employees. These generation lines can cloud communication and make it difficult to clearly communicate with every individual. Find a clear communication strategy that works for everyone in the office to ensure that their jobs are as stress-free as possible.

Assist Employees in Understanding Benefits

Finally, your HR department may already have benefits and resources available to relieve stress in the workplace, but your employees may not be aware of it. Encourage your HR department to carefully review all the relevant benefits, and consider training your employees in the resources available to them. This will encourage them to take advantage of the many resources you’ve already invested in and assist them in relieving stress without adding additional benefits or investing in other resources.

Don’t let your HR employees suffer from unnecessary stress and burnout this open enrollment season. Take the time to educate them on their relevant benefits, balance their workload and keep a positive company culture as your entire company navigates a busy week or season.

Email us at info@benechoice.com or call 717 517-7016