Benefits for Transitory Employee Groups

By Karen Gustin, LLIF, Ameritas Group

Employee benefits are among the top 10 concerns on the minds of business owners and management team leaders at companies across the food industry. Many are wondering, “What type of benefits should we offer, and at what coverage levels?” “How much of the premium should we cover?” “Are voluntary-only plans the best option for our employee group?” “Should we offer different levels of benefits choices for employees?”
Identifying the right mix of benefits options for employees can be a difficult and complex decision. Using these five guidelines should make the process easier.
1. Define your benefits philosophy
Why do you offer benefits to employees? What do you hope to accomplish? Do you want to offer employees access to health-care benefits? Do you want to be competitive to attract and retain quality workers? These are important questions to answer as you define your benefits philosophy, which will guide you in making decisions on options that best fit your needs.
2. Select benefits that are workable for employees
Analyze employee demographics and financial status. Can most employees quality for benefits and afford the premiums? If employees elect not to participate, it may impact coverage options and premium prices.
Consider these guidelines:
Evaluate the coverage, service limitations and prerequisites of benefits. Employees need timely access to benefits. If plans have high deductibles or long waiting periods for coverage, employees may have little interest. They may believe that they won’t be employed at your company long enough to enjoy the benefits.
Offer plans that are affordable for the majority of employees. Select plans that fit the budgets of the highest percentage of employees, otherwise participation will be low.
Consider a variety of plan designs. Many processors offer dual plan coverage options for employees: basic coverage available at a low monthly cost, including preventive care and other routine services, and a full-service option with preventive care and extensive services offered at a higher premium.
Evaluate benefit needs for multiple locations. Depending on economic and workforce conditions in different locations, you may need multiple plan designs for employees.
3. Think beyond bilingual to multinational
Many employers believe benefits information in English and Spanish meets the needs of their employees. However, many workers today are from countries in which residents speak neither English nor Spanish.
Identify the languages spoken by employees and provide materials translated to meet those needs, as well as translation services to explain benefits to employees. Verify that information is translated correctly; otherwise employees will misunderstand their benefits and coverage options.
4. Dedicate resources for benefits administration
As benefits plans and regulations become more complex, you may need additional human-resource professionals to handle the workload and monitor the changing needs of employees. Insurance records also must be updated continually to avoid overpayments. This is time-consuming work that cannot just be absorbed by existing personnel.
Trends also affect resources. In the next 10 years, the Hispanic workforce will grow significantly, requiring even more time from human-resource professionals to manage these employees’ benefits and other employment needs.
5. Work with trusted insurance partners
Since many benefit plans are complex, work with insurance consultants and carriers you can trust to provide accurate information, honest advice and solutions-based plans.
Every insurance carrier has different strengths and capabilities. As you evaluate your carrier choices, look for those experienced in working with companies similar to yours in size, language needs and market scope. Evaluate their business philosophies, plan selection, flexibility in plan design, depth of network providers, plan administration, and claims processing and customer service.
The benefits challenge
Benefits have changed dramatically over the past few years, and more changes are on the horizon. Make the most of the plans you offer by ensuring that they match your benefits philosophy and meet your employees’ needs.
You can take control of your benefits by working with strategic insurance carriers that offer solutions to your benefits challenges, and by dedicating the staff and resources needed to communicate and manage those benefits for your employees.
Karen M. Gustin, LLIF, is vice president-group marketing and managed care for Ameritas Group, a division of Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. (a UNIFI Company), with headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska. Ameritas is one of the nation’s leading providers of dental and eye care products and services. Her tenure with Ameritas Group spans 24 years. She’s involved with the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP), serving on the board and chairing the Statistical Task Force.
For assistance in understanding insurance plans and carrier choices, or comparing coverage options, contact the Ameritas Group marketing department at 800-776-9446.