A benefits consultant will make your life much easier.
Creating a benefits plan for employees can overwhelm most small business owners. And that is just at the start of the development process for an employee benefits plan. You also have to manage the plan daily, which will take a considerable chunk out of your schedule.
In other words, you don’t have the time to manage employee benefits. By working with a benefits consultant, you improve the retention rate of your employees, as well as allocate more time to interact with vendors and customers.
What’s A Benefits Consultant?
As a licensed and experienced professional who offers advice to businesses on a wide variety of insurance products, a benefits consultant primarily develops and administers employee benefits packages. There can be a focus on one type of benefit, such as establishing an employer-sponsored retirement plan. A consultant can also manage a large number of benefits that include life insurance and group health insurance for self-employed entrepreneurs.
Developing a comprehensive benefits package is an important strategy to improve the employee retention rate. Employers that invest in an employee benefits plan let team members know the company is also investing in them. Benefits consultants possess detailed knowledge of group insurance policies, as well as understand how to use the most effective tools to maximize employer profits.
Many consultants that develop employee benefits packages receive compensation in the form of commissions while operating independently from benefits and insurance companies. This compensation paradigm ensures consultants work in the best interest of employers.
Consultants have numerous benefit options, including the following choices:
Group health insurance
Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) insurance
Level funded health plans
Student loan repayment
Defense Base Act (DBA) insurance
Paid time off
How Can It Help Businesses?
Benefits consultants help businesses in five ways:
Improve employee retention rates
Follow federal regulations
Develop the best benefits plan
Consultants that develop employee benefits plans know what other companies in the same area are regarding employee benefits packages. The consultant your business hires should target companies that operate in the same niche. More importantly, you can expect to learn what types of benefits your employees want as part of a plan. A benefits consultant polls employees about their preferences by using a weighted ranking system.
Benefits consultants save clients money by knowing where to shop for the most affordable plans that deliver the best benefits. Since the regulation process is complex for even the most experienced business operators, having a consultant on board to ensure full regulatory compliance prevents the business from paying costly fines. Above all, a licensed and experienced benefits consultant will develop the best plan that matches the preferences of your entire team.
The Importance of Administering an Employee Benefits Plan
After you establish an employee benefits plan with the help of a consultant, the next task involves administering the plan daily. The professional that is responsible for overseeing your company’s employee benefits plan not only ensures each employee receives the proper coverage. They also help the company achieve the highest value for its investment.
Poor regulatory compliance can land your business in hot water with the federal government. The feds do not take kindly to shady investments that enrich third parties while decimating the benefits package established by a company. Your benefits consultant will file the proper paperwork with the IRS, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Employee Benefits Securities Administration (EBSA). The EBSA is an agency that operates within the United States Department of Labor. One of the most important administrative duties performed by a benefits consultant is to guide employees through the open health insurance enrollment process.
The professional that you contract with to consult about your company’s employee benefits plan should be available to answer questions and provide advice about different benefit options. For example, if an employee decides to change a retirement plan portfolio, a benefits consultant should be there to offer advice on how to maximize tax-free returns.
What to Look For
What is the most important asset for your business? It is the employees that drive sales and work exceptionally hard to cultivate trust with prospective customers or clients. Without high-achieving employees, you cannot expect to run a successful business.
Since your team is the heartbeat of your business, you want to treat them well by offering perks such as health insurance and customized retirement plans. The issue is not whether you want to go the extra mile for your employees. Instead, the question is how do you develop an employee benefits plan, and then keep the plan humming along by performing all the administrative tasks?
The answer is by working with a state-licensed benefits consultant.
Should you work with an individual who specializes in running employee benefits plans, or should you contract with an agency that has a wide variety of benefit plan consultants on its staff? Whatever you decide, you need to look for five professional attributes in the professional you choose to create and manage your company’s benefits plan.
Detailed Knowledge of Employee Benefits
What to look for in a benefits consultant starts with knowledge. The professional that you hire to run your company’s benefits plan must understand the nuances of employee benefits. From knowing the compliance guidelines established by the federal government to understanding how to conduct a risk analysis, the benefits consultant that you work with must be able to do it all.
A lack of knowledge concerning compliance and the details of the health marketplace can cost your business tens of thousands of dollars. The primary purpose of hiring a consultant to handle employee benefits is to free up more of your time to run the daily operations.
Make sure to vet every candidate for a comprehensive knowledge of employee benefits issues.
The health insurance consultant that you select to run the employee benefits plan has to be able to communicate clearly with you and the rest of the team. Life insurance, health insurance, and retirement plans require thorough explanations to guide employees into making the right decisions for them and their families.
Before the benefits consultant starts an employee benefits plan, you need to meet with the consultant to receive a detailed explanation about what the consultant intends to propose. Then, the consultant meets with employees in a group setting before interacting with each employee individually.
It’s one thing to know the employee benefits industry; it’s quite another thing to be able to describe the different benefit options clearly.
Open and Honest
The third professional trait you want in a benefits consultant is transparency. Your consultant must be open and honest about everything, especially when it comes to price increases for insurance policies and poorer than expected investment returns within a retirement plan. You cannot expect to connect with a benefits consultant personally if the consultant refuses to keep you in the loop about how certain elements of the plan are doing.
Your employees expect openness and honesty when it comes to their benefits. Make sure that happens by hiring a benefits consultant who values transparency.
The biggest difference between a benefits broker and a consultant is the level of collaboration. A benefits broker builds transactional relationships that wind down after the start of a plan, as well as after a plan renews. On the other hand, a consultant should be all about ongoing collaboration.
A highly effective consultant should meet you at least one time a week and keep you informed regularly about the latest developments via email messages. If your benefits consultant works from an office located out of town, schedule at least one video conference meeting each week.
Collaboration is a two-way street, which means your consultant should welcome your input about all things that pertain to employee benefits.
The professional that you select to run your company’s employee benefits plan doesn’t have to possess the predictive powers of Nostradamus. However, you need to find an employee benefits specialist that anticipates changes in federal laws, especially when it involves insurance.
Here a few ways a benefits consultant can add insight:
Link company goals to developing the appropriate employee benefits package
Manage different benefits by anticipating changes
Know when an employee benefit is about to lose some of its appeal
Developing a strategic long-term employee benefits plan without the keen insight of a consultant is nearly impossible.
How to Find A Benefits Consultant
Whether you go with an agency or an independent contractor, you have to know where to find a properly credentialed benefits consultant. Start your research by using the power of the almighty Google search engine. For example, if you own a business in Cincinnati, type in the keyword phrase “Cincinnati Benefits Consultant.” Google should return a long list of possible candidates.
The next step is to read the reviews left on Google by business owners like you. You want to see if any of the five traits we mentioned earlier come across for each Google review. Also, you want to get an overall feel about how the business community views each candidate on your shortlist.
You will find positive Google reviews for Wilson Insurance Group. We are located in Cincinnati, OH and our main phone number is (513) 984-5991.
A state-licensed and experienced benefits consultant does much more than simply help a company select an employee benefits plan. The best consultants use the right tools and gain access to helpful information to make prudent decisions about the most important perks that you offer your employees.
A powerful employee benefits package put together by a collaborative benefits consultant will help you retain the members of your high-achieving team, as well as attract the best talent in your industry.
At that point, you're in great shape to grow or maintain your business with peace of mind!