By James E. Marco Jr.
As we approach another annual enrollment
season, companies are once again facing increased
health insurance premiums at rates
that are near 20 percent. As each company
struggles with how much to contribute to the
plan, here are a few thoughts on this annual
One of the main reasons that people seek
jobs and go to work is to achieve some level
of financial security. This certainly comes
in the form of a salary, but that “security” is
enhanced by the access to group insurance
benefits, benefits that companies often make
contributions towards these plans to offset
the cost to employees.
The concept of “total compensation” isn’t
new, but this is a good time of year to remind
your employees, with specific numbers and
information, that in addition to the salary
that you provide, you also contribute $XX
towards their group insurance plans, 7.65
percent of their salary to social security and
medicare, worker’s compensation premiums,
unemployment insurance premiums, disability
insurance premiums, and so on.
This additional remuneration is often
between 20 percent and 30 percent of an
employee’s annual salary. This has significant
value, so make sure you keep your employees
When a prospective employee considers
your company for employment, or your current
employees contemplate whether the
grass is greener somewhere else, your benefits
plans, and your financial contribution to these
plans play a role in that decision process.
Even more importantly do these plans reflect
your culture and values? For example, if you
say you value your staff, and have cancelled
your plans and sent folks to the exchanges,
this may be a mixed message at best.
Most importantly, how well do you communicate
about the plans you currently have in
place? Instead of a benefits fair, do you spend
the time actually showing your employees how
these plans work? Flow charts, step by step
processes, etc. High deductible plans, HRAs,
HSAs, flexible spending accounts, debit cards,
and the rest can be confusing for your benefits
staff, much less your other employees.
Employees value benefits that they understand,
are easy to use, and work as advertised.
The time you take to educate employees will
be returned to you several times over in more
satisfied staff, and less stress in your benefits
department. Answer the questions they have,
and listen for ideas on how to make the plans
more easily understood.
This is a critical time of year, so take advantage
of this opportunity to engage your
employees, help them to understand the
value of their benefits, and make sure they
know how to access those benefits when they
Marco is the president and principal
consultant of Saratoga Human Resources
Solutions in Gansevoort.