Although your company’s benefits plan most directly impacts your employees, many workers are surprisingly uninformed about the details of their own plans. For small businesses, this lack of education can be the difference between big savings and big (and unnecessary) spending. If your advisor doesn’t prioritize employee education, however, your workers may continue to be kept in the dark about their own benefits—and the consequences could cost your business thousands of dollars.
When choosing an advisor for your benefits plan, you should always work with one who focuses on educating your employees about their own plan.
Rejecting the Norm
Many standards that would be considered outrageous in other industries are perfectly acceptable in the health care industry. For example, not only are annual increases of up to 5 percent considered “good” when applied to benefits, but employers also place their employees in charge of much of that spending. To top it off, those same employees are rarely properly informed about the best way to spend that money.
Imagine how this practice would apply to having your employee purchase a new work vehicle. They understand the basic idea of what they should look for, but don’t know a lot about cars. So, not having the tools or education they need to make the best choice, they spend a lot of money on a vehicle that looks sleek and polished, but needs repairs that they didn’t even know to look for. In fact, if they’d been a bit more educated, they could have paid a lot less for a similar car in better condition at a smaller dealership outside of town.
The idea of sending your employee out on such an expensive errand with such little information sounds absurd, but employers make this exact mistake when they have their employees shop around for health care without knowing what they should be looking for. The more your employees understand about cost-effective health care, the more likely they are to make optimal choices for themselves and your business.
Empowerment Through Education
Many employees want to know more about how to make their plan do more for them, but don’t know where to start. One of my favorite anecdotes from my time as a broker was when an employee asked me, “Can I insure my husband and my boyfriend?” I laughed and told her that she could insure one of them, but not both. This story has always stuck out to me as both a humorous moment in my career and a reminder of why employee education is so important.
Like the woman in my story, your employees need to understand the capabilities and limits of their benefits plan to be able to truly make it work for them. Educating your employees about their benefits plan empowers them to:
- Make informed choices about the health care they receive
- Find their perfect balance of cost and care quality
- Speak up or ask questions if they have concerns about their benefits plan
Empowered employees are satisfied employees, and enabling your workers to learn more about their plan can lead them to be even happier at the workplace.
Working Together for a Better Future
Turning your benefits plan into a strategic opportunity for your business can only happen if you and your employees work together as a team. If your employees aren’t buying into the tools and strategies your advisor is trying to implement, you’re unlikely to achieve the best results your plan has to offer.
Of course, your employees can’t be expected to blindly follow your lead when it comes to their own health care. By teaming up with your advisor, you help your employees learn how their decisions can positively impact:
- Their savings
- Their quality of care
- The business
Like the success of your business itself, the success of your benefits plan relies on the ability of you and your employees to work together. Once your workers understand the power of their own choices, they can begin to make well-informed choices and engage with their plan to create a positive impact for all stakeholders.
Your Plan’s Most Powerful Tool
Your advisor can provide you with all the tools and wisdom at their disposal, but if your employees don’t know how to use them, your benefits plan may still fail to serve your business at its full potential. By rejecting the norm in employee involvement, you can help create educated, empowered employees that can team up with you and your advisor to achieve the best possible result.
The views of the author of this article do not necessarily represent the views of Gradifi. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained here. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax or financial advisors to understand the tax, financial and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this article.