Health and Welfare: A Critical Component to Your Total Rewards Strategy

Clint Tripodi, Chief Operating Officer

Let’s face it, when thinking about total rewards, base and incentive compensation is usually first on the list of priorities. Just as it should be. However, more and more progressive companies are seeing the benefits component of total rewards as a better differentiator in defining their employment value proposition. And, one allowing for many more design options than just compensation.

Take a look at this component not just from the employer’s perspective, but from that of the employee’s family. Whereas an employee’s compensation package is usually accepted as is and perhaps not even discussed until the annual merit cycle, benefits touch all family members throughout the fiscal year. This may be as ordinary as getting a prescription filled or as dramatic as a catastrophic medical event. Either way, the family’s benefit plan on a day to day basis, is typically more ‘visible’ than the employee’s compensation.

Yet, we tend to design benefit plans top down, mostly from the employer’s point of view. Most companies have taken the traditional approach which has worked very well in the past: Smart HR professionals working with smart benefit consultants to design programs that meet certain cost requirements that balance the best interest of the employees and the company.

However, I have noticed a trend with forward-thinking organizations desiring the process to be designed from the bottom-up. The formation of employee committees with the sole objective of gathering employee (and family) input on the design of benefits is gaining momentum. This is extremely wise, as we’ve all heard employees complain about the increase in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, introductions of HSAs, etc. Anything that represents change to a fundamental reward that impacts their family is cause for people to become very vocal, and fast. It reminds me, and many forget, “employees do not resist change as much as they resist being controlled”. Do you want to undermine the culture you have been working hard to maintain? Make a serious mistake in your total rewards strategy and you will get there in a hurry.

So, give control back to your employees.

How do we make our employees part of our benefits solution and gain buy-in with our total rewards strategy? Consider the following suggestions:

  • Form employee benefit committees;
  • Develop surveys to obtain both employee and family input;
  • Educate your employees on the economic realities of a benefits plan from the employer’s perspective; they will appreciate the candor and transparency;
  • Articulate how the benefit plan is a major component of their total rewards package and put a real number behind this. Provide personalized yearly compensation statements. Most employees (and their spouses) would be surprised at the actual costs;
  • Reinforce your total rewards with annual benefit statements, mailers, company newsletters, website, etc. If possible, include data showing that your offerings are competitive—your benefits consultant should be able to provide this for you;
  • Strongly reinforce your company’s total rewards strategy during the recruitment process and throughout the year during appropriate large group gatherings such as management meetings, town halls, etc.

The point is, look at this critical component of total rewards through a different lens. And most importantly, take action to get your employees involved. The results can only be positive and the touch points are many; strengthening your work culture, attraction of talent, retention of employees, cost management, and perhaps a creative perspective from your employees that your HR staff and benefits consultant may not have discovered on their own.

Getting your employees engaged in a bottom-up approach takes a defined strategy, but the work is worth the effort and the business impact is measureable.

The Human Capital staff at Craford Benefit Consultants can help you roadmap a path to employee benefit engagement. Call us today or simply send us an email for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you soon.


 About the author:

Clint Tripodi possesses 30 years of experience providing Human Resources and Operations support for global high technology companies. He has served as Vice President of Human Resources for companies such as Hitachi Data Systems, nCUBE Corporation, Pacific Broadband Communications and Entera. In these roles, Clint focused on liquidity events, mergers and acquisitions, human resources strategies, internal communications and community relations programs. Clint serves in an advisory capacity at the board level for several for-profit and not-for-profit firms. Clint has consulted with over 650 companies in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Performance Management, Leadership Development, and Strategic Planning. Clint holds an MBA in Human Resources and has earned certificates in Strategic Planning from Harvard Business School and the University of Michigan. Clint has been certified in the use of visual graphic tools and advanced facilitation from the Grove Consultants, International.