Each organization is unique, so your benefits strategies should reflect your particular goals. Taking a cookie-cutter approach or investing in every trend that comes along can be problematic. While new and exciting ideas can be tempting, it would be counterproductive and impractical to implement employee benefit strategies that don’t align with your workforce or goals.
Instead, let’s take a step back and consider the process of strategic planning, in addition to the strategies themselves.
The purpose of the strategic planning process is to identify which tactics, trends or solutions match up best to your organization’s particular goals and requirements. The strategies for a manufacturer often won’t work the same for a school district. There are certainly some common elements to strategic planning, but copying another employer’s work could easily result in a failing grade. Employers need to carefully consider the following when developing a strategic plan:
Like the strategies themselves, the strategic planning process can differ from one employer to the next. Some employers can complete the process in one meeting, while others may prefer or need additional sessions. Whether it takes one meeting or several, employers should follow these three phases to stay on track:
Complete this phase 30 or more days ahead of the strategic planning meeting and identify:
During this phase, it’s important that all participants, regardless of job title, feel comfortable asking questions and expressing their ideas. It’s often the employees and not the top executives who take the pulse of the workforce and can offer valuable insights. This openness is crucial because the strategic plan should reflect both the needs and interests of the employer as well as its employees. During this phase, take time to cover the following:
Employers often benefit from examining plan design summaries, current rates, carriers, and renewal dates, benchmark comparison reports (showing how your benefits compare to similar organizations), wellness data, and other factors.
Conclude this phase by exploring emerging trends in employee benefits that are most relevant to your organization. Since trends in employee benefits can change rapidly, it’s critical for employers to partner with a benefits consultant who’s committed to staying on top of current trends. An effective strategic planning process will help filter out the noise and present your organization with options that best match your goals and requirements.
In the end, an effective strategic planning process will:
Mardi Burns strives to be an integral part of her client’s team to develop creative and proactive strategic benefit plan solutions. She joined Associated Benefits and Risk Consulting in 1987 and has over 30 years of experience in employee benefits, with a focus on assisting medium to large employers
Mardi Burns strives to be an integral part of her client’s team to develop creative and proactive strategic benefit plan solutions. She joined Associated Benefits and Risk Consulting in 1987 and has over 30 years of experience in employee benefits, with a focus on assisting medium to large employers design, implement and manage their benefit plans. Her specialties include multi-sited self-funded plans, strategic benefit planning facilitation, public employer plans and integrating the benefit strategy with engagement and wellness strategies. She provides renewal and benefit analysis, union negotiation consulting, employee education, healthcare reform analysis and planning and wellness consultation, while keeping an eye on strategic recommendations. Mardi has been involved in the design and implementation of several employer on-site and near-site health clinics including facilitating cooperative multi-employer clinics. Additionally, Mardi is a frequent speaker on employee benefits costs and solutions.
In the ongoing battle to contain costs, employers are always looking for tools, old and new, to help keep their healthcare spending in check. One approach is healthcare consumerism — but too often consumerism is discussed as just another plan design option and many employers are hesitant to implement this cost-saving strategy.
Health plan benchmarking is an essential part of your strategic plan, for two important reasons:
What are some of the critical decisions you must make when designing your organization’s health plan?
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