BenefitMall, a national online payroll firm headquartered in Dallas, is one of the small handful of payroll specialists reaching a wider audience by also offering benefits administration and solutions for workers compensation and 401(k) plans. As such, they fully understand that there is more to offering employee benefits than setting up a basic health insurance plan. Employee benefits can make or break a company in terms of hiring and retaining top talent.
One way to look at employee benefits programs is to view them as platforms supported by three columns, or pillars. Each of the pillars is critical to supporting the benefits program. Take one pillar away and the whole thing comes crashing down. Ensure that all three are strong and stable, and you will keep that platform standing straight up for the foreseeable future.
The three pillars of employee benefits programs are:
Before a company designs a benefits package, management must first sit down and figure out the purpose behind it. Basic health insurance is a federal mandate thanks to the Affordable Care Act, but everything beyond that is up for grabs. So why offer health insurance that exceeds ACA requirements? Why offer dental insurance, vision insurance, and additional support for childcare expenses?
If management does not have specific goals in mind for their benefits package, they lack any reasonable foundation for deciding what benefits to offer. Therefore, purpose must be determined. Often, purpose is directly tied to the kinds of people a company already has on staff. But purpose might also be defined based on future hiring goals. At any rate, it is nearly impossible to design an effective benefits package if management doesn’t know why they are doing it.
Once a benefits package is in place, someone has to administer it. Administration can be handled in-house or left to a third-party provider like BenefitMall. If necessary, the employer and its vendor can share benefits administration responsibilities. Individual benefit providers can even be part of the equation.
The key to successful administration is clearly defining each party’s responsibilities. Once defined, each party must make a concerted effort not to interfere with the responsibilities of the others. Likewise, each party must be faithful to its responsibilities to ensure employees do not suffer.
Last but not least is onboarding. Every employee eligible to receive company benefits must be brought on board separately. This includes all employees eligible when benefits are first offered as well as new employees brought in at later dates. It should be noted that a company’s onboarding process can play a significant role in whether new employees are retained or not.
Onboarding should be as easy and seamless as possible. Employees should receive all the information they need to make decisions; appropriate staff members and administrative representatives should be on hand to answer questions; the entire process should be streamlined enough to be able to complete within a minimal amount of time.
Working with a Third-Party Provider
With the three pillars of benefits administration in place, the last thing to consider is whether to use a third-party provider like BenefitMall. There is no clear-cut answer here. It all depends on a company’s current needs and future projections.
An obvious major benefit to outsourcing with a third-party provider is no longer having to worry about all the details of benefits administration. Just like a payroll service can offer a worry-free solution that absorbs every aspect of payroll processing and tax compliance, a company offering a comprehensive benefits administration solution can completely take over all those responsibilities.