Across the country, you will find entrepreneurs starting companies they hope to grow into successful long-term businesses. The ones that succeed eventually reach the point of having to bring on employees. Those employees eventually start receiving benefits. But diving into employee benefits for the first time can be like taking the polar plunge.
Are you an entrepreneur with a growing business? Is your company just getting started with benefits for the first time? If so, be prepared for a steep learning curve. Take things slowly and ask a lot of questions. Coming up with a good benefits package may be the hardest back-office task you ever undertake.
To get you started, here are five tips that could prove invaluable:
1. Work With a Broker
You have the choice of going it alone or working with a benefits broker. Being that you probably know very little about employee benefits, working with a broker is likely your best bet. Even if you don’t want to work with a broker for the next decade, doing so for the first year or two could save you a lot of headaches.
Brokers can work independently or underneath general agencies. A general agency is a company, like BenefitMall, that acts as a broker for brokers, so to speak. Brokers that work through general agencies tend to have access to more products, better technology, and a ton of industry support.
2. Start With Basic Needs
Your budget will probably dictate what you offer but, just in case it doesn’t, start by addressing basic needs first. That usually means a health plan offering minimum essential coverage. Or your broker might recommend a high deductible or self-funded health plan. The point is to take care of the basics first. If you have money left in the budget afterward, you can look at throwing other options in.
3. Customize Benefits If Possible
There are times when budgetary constraints leave little room for customization. A company needs to settle for the cheapest group health plan it can find. Still, customization is good if the resources to do it are there.
Customizing benefits generally starts with a basic health plan and a retirement package. From there, the employer adds a range of voluntary benefits employees can choose from as they see fit. A large enough basket of voluntary options allows employees an exceptional level of customization they tend to appreciate.
4. Make Access Easy
One of the best ways to guarantee benefits are actually used is to make access to them as easy as possible. For example, setting each employee up with an online account puts their benefit plans within reach. They can log on to make changes or update their information. Their accounts give them access to provider networks, policy information, payment history, and more.
5. Put Time and Effort Into Education
Finally, education is paramount to offering the most effective benefits at the best possible price. Make a commitment to put time and effort into education. That includes your education as well as that of your employees. You need to understand benefit options before you can turn around and explain them to employees. And for the record, you can lean on your broker for help here. Education is one of the broker’s chief responsibilities.
Companies diving into the benefits space for the first time should not do so carelessly. A more cautious approach is warranted. When companies take their time and do things right, they end up with packages that meet employee needs without wasting money. That is the way to go.