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It’s a New Year—Get Your Benefits House in Order

It’s a New Year—Get Your Benefits House in Order
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 by ARAG North America Inc.

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Even though open enrollment seems like months away, here’s three ways to stay a step ahead and offer your employees a rockstar benefits package.   

2023 is off and running! Before things get super busy, it’s a good time to take an objective look at your benefit plan needs this year. As you think about your company’s unique voluntary benefit needs, consider this:  

  1. Benefit decisions are being made on a much tighter turnaround. Is there anything you can work on now that will help you respond proactively to employees’ benefit needs well before open enrollment?  
  1. As inflation pushes costs higher, can you anticipate creative and less painful ways to adjust voluntary benefit budgets to help balance this out?  
  1. And with an eye toward stretching your company’s and employees’ benefits dollars, do you have the resources to provide alternatives to existing benefits or new approaches to meet employees’ needs? 

Here are three ways to help you address those potential issues and be better prepared for what may lie ahead in the new year.  

1. Develop an employee communication plan—or ramp up the existing one.  

It’s never too early to develop or refine your employee communication plan for mid-year and end-of-year open enrollment. I recommend taking time now to map out communication tactics that help show the value of each benefit option. Highlight any important updates and changes for the coming year to show how each benefit selection might affect employees. Also explore which mediums or channels resonate best with employees. Maybe it’s company intranet articles or webinars. Gauge current employee communication needs so your message can be delivered with the most impact for them—and less friction for you. 

Identify the key differentiators for benefits and communicate that value to your employees. Contact each benefit provider (or work with your broker partner) to evaluate or brainstorm the best ways to help them demonstrate how they stand out from others. Having the ability to communicate the advantages of comprehensive coverage to an increasingly discerning and diverse employee base is a must.  

2. Create a plan for combating inflation.  

In addition to creating a communication plan, consider how you address rising inflation and increased costs of core benefits, primarily medical coverage, that may affect the amount of money your company can spend on voluntary benefits. Even though inflation has cooled off a little, employees are still bearing the brunt of high prices. You may have to explore new plans to keep benefits cost-effective. It may also be a good idea to look at the participation rates of some voluntary benefits to evaluate their usage and effectiveness.  

While carefully reviewing benefit selections to help combat inflation, I recommend reiterating the ‘benefits within the benefit.’ For example, maybe your health insurance plan offers virtual tele-health options. Or a retirement savings plan offers financial counseling or investment tools that can help employees feel more comfortable in an uncertain economic climate.  

3. Find ways to stretch benefit dollars.  

Now’s the perfect time to start exploring options that will help stretch your company’s and employees’ benefits dollars while still addressing the most-pressing issues. It’s going to be important to understand inflation’s impact on your bottom line. There may be benefits that you can offer to help employees cope with the stress of financial insecurity. A financial wellness package or workshops on financial planning are a great option for this. Offering these tools can show that you are attuned to employees’ changing needs.  

Additionally, evaluating your opportunities and finding creative and cost-effective solutions can go a long way when working to attract and retain employees. Are there unique coverages, like pet insurance or caregiver support, that can make you a more enticing employer to work for? If your company is a leader in DE&I, offering unique coverages, like family planning benefits or legal insurance, work to help to meet the needs of people no matter where they are in life.

Legal insurance is an attractive voluntary benefit to offer, as it can be used by anyone regardless of their age, gender or marital status. And better yet, legal insurance plans are affordable typically costing around $20 per month. 

Another way to stretch your benefits dollars is to look for voluntary benefits that are complementary. For example, by pairing legal insurance with financial wellness packages, you can help employees feel better equipped to handle whatever challenges they might be facing (such as if a financial matter turns into a legal one or vice versa).  

Even though I suspect economic challenges will continue, I’m optimistic that 2023 is going to be an exciting year. Taking the time now to get organized, anticipate what may lie ahead for your company and set the foundation for open communication throughout the year can help solidify your role as a company who truly cares for employees’ needs—and aptly rewards them for their unique and valuable contributions.  

Tim Weber

Vice President, Group Sales and Client Management ARAG North America, Inc

Tim Weber, a long-time voluntary benefit veteran, serves as Vice President, Group Sales and Client Management at ARAG, overseeing ARAG’s core sales business–group sales, sales operations, client management, product development and client support services. 

Pinnacle Partner, ARAG North America offers legal insurance for the modern worker. Marriage, property, identity protection: There are a variety of reasons to provide your people with legal guidance.