Your human resources team excels at their responsibilities. Are there times, such as when choosing healthcare plans or other benefits, to bring in an outside expert?
Expertise can be provided by a consultant, a benefits administrator, an insurance broker, or another outside expert. Expertise can also be hired or developed in-house.
Here’s how to make that choice and work with an outside expert.
What Insiders and Outsiders Do Best
Your in-house HR professionals should focus on the most critical elements of your people operations: culture building, employee relations, how people work and succeed in the organization, and how the organization supports personnel development.
They’re responsible for managing benefits and elevating the organization’s culture. Chances are, they don’t know all the ins and outs of the latest expectations, legal guidance, and trends surrounding benefits, especially healthcare.
It makes sense for in-house HR professionals to focus on the employees and work with external experts to complement and create initiatives that strengthen and support the culture.
Outside professionals can not only provide more in-depth expertise in specific areas, but can also help with recruitment and retention by outlining what other organizations are doing and the latest best practices.
How to Think About Benefits
Before talking to an outside expert about benefits, an organization should have internal discussions with its leaders about aligning benefits with the organization’s culture and values. What’s essential to the organization and the people who are part of it? If, for example, you have a culture that emphasizes wellness and health for employees, how do your benefits support that statement? How do your benefits reinforce that value?
The next step, especially if benefits are being reevaluated or offered for the first time, is to assemble a task force from across the organization. By bringing together diverse thoughts and perspectives, you will understand the team’s needs and create buy-in across the organization.
Don’t forget to include finance in these discussions. It’s important to have a sense of what the organization can afford and what employees value most. It’s equally important to know what people are struggling with and what would help team members feel more connected with the organization.
A survey can also be beneficial. Ask employees what they like about your benefits. What do they wish you had and why?
Then, when you go to a consultant, you’ll have some idea of the types of benefits or the direction of the benefits that you want to offer.
How to Vet Outside Experts
Although every organization’s needs vary, there are some standard areas to ask about:
Customer service. Often, particularly in health and welfare benefits, brokers offer the same policies from the same providers. The differentiator is customer service. You want to know that the outside expert can do what you can’t do internally. Do you want seminars or other educational programs for employees? Do you want ongoing consultation or someone you can call with questions or problems? Get specifics from HR professionals.
Referrals. Talk to other clients. Ask about implementation. What did it look like? How did the consultant or broker support the company during that process? What problems occurred and how were they resolved? What has the ongoing relationship been like, if there is one?
Fit. Make sure the outside expert provides what you need. Do you want a turnkey process where the outside expert manages everything, including day-to-day administration? Do you want someone who can hand off to your in-house team? What can you expect from the HR professionals, and what should the consultant expect from you?
Particularly in health and welfare, you could go with a variety of large or small firms, but they’ll have roughly the same access to products. It comes down to this: How are your HR team and your employees treated and supported?
Another thing to consider is what types of informational and industry communications the vendor provides. Do they have access to additional information and resources that may prove helpful in the future? What are their fiduciary and legal obligations? It’s almost impossible to ask too many questions.
Don’t Go It Alone
This may be a first for your organization, but others have done this before. Reach out to your network, your stakeholders, anyone who’s had to make the same decisions and tap into their expertise. You’ll save time and money and possibly avoid mistakes.
The Lindenberger Group can help recommend, vet, select, and work with outside experts in every area of benefits and HR professionals. For more information or to discuss your HR needs, please contact us at 609-730-1049 or send us an email.