Merriam-Webster defines a “benchmark” as something that serves as a standard by which others may be measured or judged. (No pressure there.) Evaluating our strategic plans, including our employee benefits plans, against that elusive “standard” is vital to knowing how to approach our plans for the future.
When the economy was booming, using benchmark data to evaluate your employee benefits plans was the best way to make sure you were able to attract and retain top talent. Now things are different, and seeing how your benefits package measures up may be even more integral to your overall success than ever.
What’s different with benefits benchmarking today
Traditionally, benefits benchmarking has been a practical and proven method to measure current employee offerings against competitors within the same market. It helps employers balance specific, desirable benefits plan elements that employees want or need with necessary cost-control measures.
The challenges today are far more complex. As employee populations are becoming increasingly diverse, companies must meet the widely varying needs of employees from multiple generations and different stages of life.
Along with changing demographics, we now have a slew of new regulations, provisions, and requirements that are leading to very significant changes in benefits planning. Employers are facing extremely difficult decisions as they begin to address the implications of health care reform, which has heaped an unprecedented level of change and uncertainty upon employers.
Benchmarking data to be aware of
With all that is changing in the world of employee benefits, knowing what other employers are doing is more important than ever. How are similar employers implementing the new rules? Which costs are employers absorbing and which are they passing on to their employees? Where are cost-shifting and cost-cutting measures being implemented? Are other employers looking at dropping coverage altogether? How will all of these decisions help or hurt you when you present yourself to current and potential employees?
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual Survey of Employer Health Benefits is an often-quoted, comprehensive survey (recently released for 2012!) that tracks much of the data available for benefits benchmarking. It is the largest survey of its kind and provides a wealth of proven, valuable information about the state of employer health benefits as well as emerging trends in plan designs, plan types, employer and employee contributions, and more, among employers of all sizes.
Jon Gabel, Principal Investigator for the Kaiser Family Foundation Survey, will present the highlights of the 2012 Kaiser Survey data at our October 26th workshop in Grand Rapids, Benefits Benchmarking: Lessons Learned from Top Performers. Gabel will offer insight into how you can effectively offer the most value from your benefit package, and Anthony Fioretti and Steve Hook from HNI will discuss some of the strategies we’ve seen implemented by top performing companies.