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What’s HR’s role in executing a successful benefits strategy? A CEO weighs in



One of the toughest things employers have to define and redefine is benefits strategy – especially with employee retention being the challenge that it is right now. A survey of employee attitudes by Willis Towers Watson indicates it’s possible to bolster employee engagement and loyalty through benefits.

But according to Ed Walker, the CEO of supplemental health insurance solutions provider ArmadaCare, the right benefits strategy isn’t one-size-fits-all for all companies, especially with five different generations in the workforce.

“I use health care differently than a new entrant to our company. So their needs and my needs are quite different,” he said in a new episode of HRMorning‘s podcast Voices of HR, titled “The Complex Needs of the Modern Workforce: Strategic Approaches to Benefits.”

‘What are we hearing from employees?’

Ultimately, it’s up to HR leaders to take the pulse of the needs of the organization with quantitative and qualitative data to inform a benefits strategy that allows for flexible and customizable benefits.

Calling them “a good way to measure and … a good way to pivot,” Walker recommends quarterly employee net promoter score surveys to find out how important certain benefits are to your people.

“It really just gives us a pulse on, numerically, where are we? But also from an open-ended, qualitative (perspective of) ‘what are things that are on your mind?’ I get a tremendous amount of information from that, and then we’ll use that information as part of our leadership meetings. And we’ll put that back into the strategy and execution process,” he said.

Benefits strategy 1: Be open to ACA-excepted coverages

While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires employee health insurance plans to cover certain health benefits, there are many types of optional benefits which could be attractive to certain worker populations because they close gaps in care, including:

  • Non-health coverage, such as wage replacement after an accident or extended illness or injury
  • Limited health benefits like dental, vision and long-term care coverage, and
  • Specific disease or illness coverage (e.g. cancer or hospital indemnity insurance).

Options worth exploring include tax-beneficial health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements.

Benefits strategy 2: Attention to wellness

Walker noted that younger generations of employees tend to value preventive wellness and mental and behavioral health care more than medical insurance coverage.

How this care is covered by your benefits plan is an important consideration, and so are the kinds of tools being offered to make that care accessible.

As Walker put it, “Is this covered under the basic plan or are there things that I am going to need that may not be covered?”

Watch the full episode here

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