6 Areas HR Professionals Should Care About

Ed Bray of Ascension presented during today’s Employee Benefit News Webinar.  Ed suggested 6 areas HR professionals should care about going into 2015:

Employee hearing about benefits from multiple sources – some true, some untrue.

Between the internet, news, friends, neighbors and relatives, your fellow employees are getting information about new benefit laws and regulations but it may not all be true.  This can cause loss of productivity, confusion and ineffective use of plans.

The Fix:  Designate a point person for the company who serves as the source of truth when it comes to benefits.  Post commonly asked questions employees have in a public location.

The ACA individual mandate may have a negative effect on some employee benefits behavior

Unless you have a waiver, everyone is required to carry health insurance now.  The key to having employer-sponsored health insurance is working full time.  Employees working less than 30 hours per week may feel an increased sense of resentment towards their employer for not providing them with coverage – now making them go and buy it on their own.  Employees may feel they have been wronged and should be offered coverage.

The solution:  Communicate and post the health insurance plan eligibility requirements as described in your summary plan descriptions.  Provide as much help and support as possible.,  Review data with the employee to explain to them why they are not eligible.  Invite them to the exchange and explain the process.

The C-Suite has become more actively involved in employee benefits

The costs associated with the ACA are bringing the C-Suite to the benefits table and they are interested in cost-control solutions.  If HR managers fail to properly inform and work with the highest level decision makers in the company, there could be personal and company-wide consequences for poorly-informed decisions or plans.

The solution:  Involve your broker in proactively engaging C-level stake holders regarding the impacts of the new world of employee benefits.

Some employees are experiencing major changes in health insurance benefits

Many employees are becoming eligible for benefits for the first time OR their plan is significantly changing or will no longer be eligible for a subsidy on the exchange.  If employees are not properly informed and equipt for these changes, there could be impact to moral as employees who are used to a subsidy end up losing it, or others that never had insurance must now purchase it.  Your phone lines could fill with calls that can be avoided.

The solution:  Introduce benefit learning opportunities as often as possible with employees.  

Internal departments are being asked to do more in benefits

Benefits is no longer a siloed entity, plugging away in the background.  Payroll, IT, management, scheduling and many other facets of the company are now involved.  As a benefit administrator, you need their help.  They need to trust you when regulations change and the company needs to pivot.

The solution:  Keep you team close and informed.  Build strong cross-functional relationships that will get you through the tough times. 

Employee are using plans inefficiently

This problem is not new.  Employees using the Emergency Room when they should be going to a clinic.  Purchasing brand-name drugs when an equally effective generic exists.

The solution:  Continued education and communication.  

The common thread through all of the benefits areas HR professionals should be asking is increased engagement and communication. Focusing extra attention on effective communication will pay dividends in 2015.