Clint Tripodi, Chief Operating Officer
Craford Benefit Consultants
Being able to view the world through another’s perspective is the hallmark of empathy.
Why is this important when it comes to benefits management? Because many benefit brokers only understand the insurance side of the business and fail to appreciate how their benefits programs converge into their client’s total human resource environment. This failure is a major differentiator in the success of the benefit broker and client relationship.
I am fortunate to have spent many years as an HR practitioner prior to joining Craford Benefit Consultants. This experience enables me to conduct a complete conversation with my clients on the value of their health and welfare program and the many touch points these programs have on other key HR functions. Compensation, communication, culture, attraction and retention, all benefit from having a well performing health and welfare program.
Knowing how this fits in requires knowledge of our client’s HR environment.
Just as the mark of a good HR professional is to link HR programs to business results, the mark of a good benefits broker is to link the success of the client’s health and welfare program to the company’s bottom-line. How can a broker suggest a benefits design without knowing the direction the company is heading or without an understanding of their unique challenges? And, if your current broker cannot articulate the relationship behind the performance of the plan to company results, then you have a problem.
So, it becomes very obvious that a benefit broker must view a client’s business through the client’s eye. They must be able to see where the business is heading, to be able to understand the HR programs that drive business results, and to help the client understand the return on investment of their benefits spend.
Are you ready to answer your CEO’s question on what return the company is getting on their $30M benefits budget? That P&L line item really pops out and astute executive teams are challenging their HR departments to measure the results of the expenditure in terms of retention and attraction, and how this fits into the total rewards equation. Your current benefits broker must be in a position to help you answer this question.
Case Study: Employee Engagement at Guide Dogs for the Blind
Guide Dogs for the Blind is an industry-leading non-profit guide dog school headquartered in San Rafael, CA. They offer a robust set of health and welfare benefits that need to be managed within a defined operating plan. Being a non-profit, Guide Dogs for the Blind are sustained by the generosity of their donor community. Managing a competitive mix of benefits is challenging given the restraints of the operating budget and the needs of their employee population.
Assuming change is inevitable, Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Leadership team requested that Craford Benefit Consultants lead an Employee Benefit’s Focus group to “Promote awareness of Guide Dogs for the Blind’s total employee benefits and offer advice, feedback, and recommendations regarding benefit offerings, sustainability, and communication”. The goal of the focus group was simple; to review their benefits plans and to gather data to evaluate the strengths of the program and areas for improvement.
A cross functional and vertical representation of multi-generational employees were selected to participate in the focus group. Over the course of two months, the focus group members informally surveyed their peers asking about benefits strengths, areas of improvement, and in general, which benefits had the highest and least perceived value. The results were clustered into four areas of Work-Life Balance, Family Focus, Retirement, and Health and Welfare. Hundreds of suggestions were provided by employees on ways in which the benefit offerings could be improved and sustained. This ‘bottoms-up’ employee engagement process provided insights to the leadership team in ways that traditional survey techniques could not uncover. More importantly, there was an overwhelming sense of ownership of the process as this was created by the people for the people.
The results were profound for the client as well as for the benefits broker who led the focus group. Rarely do brokers get the opportunity to work hand in hand with the ultimate customers they serve, namely the company members who participate in the benefits plan. This direct engagement, combined with knowledge of the overall business strategy, provides the broker with invaluable knowledge of how to best structure and suggest future benefit offerings. This type of relationship truly enables the broker to see their clients business through their eyes, and yes, this goes a long way towards building an emphatic relationship.
The human capital staff at Craford Benefit Consultants can help you connect the performance of your health and welfare program to company results. 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.