Neither employees nor employers often ask where employee health benefits rank in importance to employees within an organization. More importantly, employers do not ask where benefits rank in terms of attempting to recruit them. More often than not, employers miss the fact that prospective employees need to check benefits off the checklist to determine whether or not they will continue to discuss employment with the employer. As long as an employer has the most common set of benefits in place and the contributions are reasonable, the prospective employee can confirm that the employer offers the same types of benefits as most other employers offer and he or she can proceed to discuss the most important thing, which is the job they are going to do for the employer, their reasons for finding it exciting and wanting to fulfill it, regular compensation, stock options and other items higher on their priority list. Employee benefits are not at the top of the list. Compensation and job function are the most important things. We want to make sure that benefits become an item that they can move beyond quickly so they can talk about the most important things to them.
When an employer wants to make sure employee benefits are not an issue for their employees on the recruiting side, it does not mean employee benefits are not important to the employee or the employer. They become important when something does not go the way it should. When something does not go the way it should is typically when all of us notice things in life that we, quite frankly, take for granted. When an employee interacts with the health care system and his or her employee benefits are supposed to kick in, operate and provide coverage in a certain way and things do not go according to plan, it becomes an issue. When things do not go according to plan with regard to employee benefits is when they become more important in a negative way.
How do we deal with benefits not working according to plan on behalf of the employees? We help employers put together employee benefit packages and support their human resource (HR) department to advocate for the employees and their dependents. Benefits should work as they are designed 90 to 95 percent of the time. When they do not, it can become a drag for the employee and his or her family, so we step in to help them make sure their benefits operate the way they are supposed to operate. Sometimes it takes a little wrangling after the fact to get something to work the way it was supposed to work from the beginning. It is of value to the employer that we are an extension of their Human Resource Department. When they do not necessarily have time to chase down all those details, we do. We are also better positioned because we are in that world of benefits all the time and we can act privately on behalf of the employee. Sometimes the employer does not even have an understanding of what is happening, other than there being an issue to make sure we handle for them and ensure the correct outcome. Benefits cannot pick their heads up, so to speak, when things get a little out of whack, so we try to make sure that we resolve issues as quickly as possible so they can go back to their jobs of being employees.