HR Benefits Administration – A Closer Look
Once individuals start getting older and having more responsibilities, like a family, the financial attractiveness of a prospective job is not only salary – it’s also the benefit plans that an employer offers.
In October 2011, the Unum Group shared the results of a study it commissioned, in an article entitled “Employees Value Benefits More Than Ever”. The study revealed that out of the more than 1,700 employed respondents, benefits were even more important to these employees in 2010 compared to 2008. The article quoted Unum’s vice president, Bill Dalicandro, as saying, “This economic environment has caused employees to take a hard look at how to protect their income and savings from not only another recession, but from personal hardship, as well…Employees are recognizing the important role financial protection benefits in particular can play in protecting their financial stability.”
It is generally the HR department or human resources specialists that administer benefit programs for all employees. This HR task can be complex and there are several facets to consider.
Benefit Facets HR Must Consider
According to Recruiter.com, “In human resource benefits management, HR professionals analyze how various employee benefits affect employee retention, loyalty and performance, as well as costs to the client for benefits packages.”
- Human resources representatives, when recruiting new employees, must be knowledgeable about their employer’s benefits programs, as well as those of similar employers, and must be able to inform prospective employees on these programs (and promote them as well).
- HR professionals may also need to research new benefit programs that are beneficial for both the employer and employees and implement these new programs.
- Making employees and employers mutually happy can be a complicated task. HR representatives need to analyze what benefit programs the employer can afford while weighing this against what is valued by or even vital to employees.
Examples of Programs that HR Administers
- Medical/Dental: Generally employers will offer several medical/dental plans to choose from that vary in terms of deductibles, contributions and coverage levels.
- Retirement Programs: This may include 401(k) benefits (retirement savings account), pension plans, investment programs, ORP (optional retirement plan), retirement medical saving accounts, and more.
- Leaves of Absence: Leaves of absence allow employees to take time off work during those crucial or important times. Depending on the employer, these include family and medical leave, sick leave, military leave, jury duty leave, personal leave, parental leave, bereavement leave and leave for professional development.
- Unemployment Compensation: For employees who become unemployed due to lay-offs or another reason where they are not at fault, they may receive temporary financial support through unemployment compensations that are primarily funded by participating employers.
- Wellness or Work/Life Balance: Depending on the employer, this may include vacation and holidays, services (such as counseling, legal or financial management services), a compressed work week, the option to telecommute, a gym membership, tuition programs, etc.