If you are like most benefits teams at a small to medium-sized company, you don’t have a large staff. You’re more likely understaffed, overworked and you have a to-do list that’s a mile long. This situation is way too common but don’t worry, here are 12 tips that will help your benefits team get more done in less time – works for “teams” of one, too.
- Ask Your Broker For Help – Brokers are experts at developing cost-effective benefits packages and solutions that can make administration simple. They can do the legwork of finding you the right benefits options tailored to your businesses needs. Working with the right carrier, tools, and technology can make a huge difference. Make sure they understand your unique situation and are willing to help you, not only in finding the perfect solution but during open enrollment and beyond. Employee questions will come up all year long, so a broker should put in tools to minimize the time required by you to handle these tools. You should also be able to escalate questions to a broker when needed. Make sure your broker is willing to be available to you 356 days out of the year.
- Outsource Jobs – These days, we are all expected to wear many hats to accomplish different assignments. The amount of skills required do all these tasks needed by a benefits team is neverending. Even if you have the skills, many times the work isn’t your strong suit and will take you longer than others. It’s best to identify these huge time-sucks and outsource these jobs when you can.
These days you can quickly tap into a pool of freelance experts to accomplish specific tasks. Two websites we recommend to handle tasks are:
- Fiverr.com – Fiverr is an online marketplace for freelance services. They provide a platform for freelancers to offer services (Gigs) to customers worldwide. Prices start at just $5, and it’s great for smaller tasks and quick visual projects.
- Upwork.com – On Upwork, you’ll find a range of talent, from programmers to designers, writers, customer support reps, and more. You post about your project, specify any required skills, and you’ll start to receive bids within minutes. Upwork is excellent for the more extensive project that had specific requirements.
- Outsource Benefits Guidance – We all know benefits can be complicated. As your company grows and you begin to offer more and more benefits, the problem about answering benefit questions becomes exponentially worse. To make matters worse, only 9 percent of the U.S. population showed an understanding of 4 of the most basic health insurance terms: plan premium, deductible, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximum.
Integrating a Benefits Guidance Platform into your benefits package will help you year-round by becoming the first stop your employees turn to when they have questions. The side benefit of having experts deal with this issue is these tools pay for themselves by helping your employee make better healthcare decisions and avoiding expensive care.
- Look For The Digital Disruptors – Think how Uber has changed transportation, AirBnB remade hospitality or Netflix altered entertainment. The Internet has changed these industries forever. Those companies have done it by reimagining the entire experience and taking a mobile first approach to product development.
Digital disruptors have begun to do the same in the healthcare and employee benefits space. Look for vendors that will automate more of the things you do manually. Look for the experiences that your employees will crave. If a vendor’s portal looks like something designed in the ’90s – walk away. Your vendors should make your job easier and make you look good.
- Negotiate – Almost every company wants to be able to offer the best benefits possible, but budget concerns always get in the way. Providing health insurance for the average employee is now approaching $15,000 per year. Always try and negotiate with every vendor that’s part of your benefits package. When looking to add additional benefits, look for those that make your employee population healthier and reduce healthcare costs.
– As the old saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
- Network – It might seem counterintuitive but networking with other benefits team members at other companies can save you time and money in the long run. In today’s world, things change quickly and keeping up with everything is difficult. Learn from other people’s experiences and mistakes will pay off in the long run. You can go to national conferences or local events. Not only is it usually fun but hearing about first-hand lessons from others in your same role makes a world of difference.
- Reject Compromise – As Napoleon said, “Dress me slowly, I’m in a hurry.” In the long run, doing things the right way will save you time. You already know that people have a hard time understanding their benefits, this means that you should take the time upfront to cover any questions, provide the right materials and think ahead. It’s way faster in the long run to write a comprehensive FAQ that covers anything you can think of than answer the same question over and over again all year.
- Set Aside Time To Think – It’s easy to create a todo list and follow it to the letter. You become task focused and take encouragement by banging things off your list. It’s almost addictive, but it leaves little time to think and strategize for your upcoming tasks. Make sure you give yourself time to think about things. You need to figure out your true objectives and come up with a strategy to accomplish them. If you must… add “Think” to your to-do list, but a simple daily quiet walk during the workday will work wonders. Leave your mind time to drift, and you’ll be amazed at what pops into your mind when you let it work on its own.
- Learn To Say “No” – It’s easy to fall into the habit to say “yes” to every request you’re asked for at an office. But learning to say “no” is an important skill. If you’re in a company that practices OKRs, it becomes easier. OKR (Objectives and Key Results) is a goal system used by many companies (including HealthJoy.) It is a simple tool to create alignment and engagement around measurable goals. If you get a request that doesn’t talk to company goals, you have an easy way to push back if needed. Obviously, you need to have some flexibility in your day to day, but saying no to tasks that aren’t going to get your company to achieve its goals is just good business.
- Empower Employees – If you have a small benefits team, it’s critical to make them feel empowered to make decisions. Using a hierarchical structure of decision making for a time constraint small team makes little sense. Make sure you’re people feel trusted to make decisions. They are usually closer to a problem and will naturally make a better choice than you could with less context. If you need to be involved with a decision, make it clear.
Tip: If you have new employees that are coming from much larger institutions, make sure they understand how decision making works at your company. At some old school companies, even the smallest decisions are handled by a few people.
- Automate With Videos – The best way to share information at scale in an automated way is through video. Studies have shown that employees are 75% more likely to learn from watching a video than all other forms of learning other than face-to-face. YouTube is filled with how-to videos for a reason. Younger people even prefer self-paced videos instead of being stuck in a long meeting. Even with modest budgets, you can outsource video production. Many vendors will also provide you with videos if asked.
Tip: Short single-topic videos work better than a long video cover many topics.
- Measure Output Instead Of Input – Measuring the output of employees versus the input instills a greater sense of purpose and happier employees. A study done in Personnel Psychology shows that the top 5% of a workforce produced 26% of the firm’s total output – meaning they are 4X more productive. Get these star performers on your benefits team, let them what you are trying to accomplish and get out of their way.
If they want to work from home, who cares – if they take hourly breaks to visit Facebook, don’t worry. Focus on the output, quality of their work and do everything you can to keep them motivated.