Benefits administration refers to the management of employee benefits programs. Benefits management includes enrolling employees in benefits plans, managing employee contributions, and ensuring that employees receive their entitlements.
Benefits administration is typically handled by a company's HR department, and it is an important aspect of human resource management as employee benefits are a key component of an overall compensation package. Well-designed benefits programs can help attract and retain top talent, improve employee morale, and boost productivity.
What is employee benefits administration?
HR professionals manage a company's employee benefits programs, including enrolling employees in plans, managing their contributions, and ensuring they receive their entitlements.
By effectively managing benefits programs, HR managers can help ensure that employees receive the benefits they are entitled to, which can help improve overall job satisfaction and foster a positive work environment.
What is the Employee Benefits Security Administration?
The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is a US government agency that is part of the Department of Labor. It protects, provides information about, and promotes employer-sponsored benefits packages in the private sector, including retirement, pension, and healthcare plans.
The EBSA considers employee needs and helps to ensure that companies offer fair and competitive benefits. The HR department should stay current on EBSA policies to remain compliant.
Types of benefits
Depending on the company culture and budget, there are different company benefits. They generally fall into two main groups: traditional and non-traditional.
Traditional benefits are commonly offered and typically included in an employee's compensation package, such as health insurance and retirement plans.
Examples of traditional benefits include:
- Health insurance
- Retirement plans, such as 401(k) or pension plans
- Paid time off (PTO), including vacation, sick leave, and holidays
- Disability insurance
- Life insurance
- Employee assistance programs, such as counseling or legal services
- Employee discounts on products or services offered by the company
- Educational assistance or reimbursement for job-related training or professional development
- Cafeteria plans or flexible spending accounts for medical expenses or dependent care expenses
Non-traditional benefits are less common and may vary from employer to employer. These benefits include flexible working arrangements, free gym memberships, or professional development opportunities. These examples of benefits can also be classified as non-mandatory benefits.
Examples of non-traditional benefits include:
- Flexible working arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours
- Wellness programs, including gym memberships, fitness classes, or health screenings
- Professional development opportunities, such as training, conferences, or workshops
- Employee perks, such as free snacks or company outings
- Parental leave or family-friendly policies, such as extended leave for new parents or support for working parents
- Employee recognition programs, such as rewards or incentives for outstanding performance
- Transportation benefits, such as discounts on public transportation or parking
- Pet-friendly policies, such as allowing employees to bring their pets to work
- Corporate philanthropy programs, such as volunteer opportunities or charitable giving campaigns
How do employees benefit?
Employees benefit from benefits administration in several ways. Consider the following as a starting point.
Improved quality of life
Employees can access various benefits that can help them lead healthier, happier, and more financially secure lives. For example, health insurance can help employees cover the costs of medical care, while retirement plans can help them save for the future.
Boost employee satisfaction and productivity
Well-managed benefits programs can also improve employee morale and job satisfaction, leading to increased productivity and lower turnover rates, benefitting both employees and employers.
Promote fairness and equity
Effective benefits administration can help ensure that employees receive the benefits they are entitled to, which can help foster a positive work environment and promote fairness and equity within the organization.
How to approach benefits administration
Careful planning and strategy are important factors when implementing benefits, helping to streamline the benefits administration process. The following steps ensure that the benefits administration offer employees the best options possible.
- Allocate a benefits administrator to oversee the process
- Determine what kinds of benefits will be offered to employees at different levels, considering eligibility for full-time, part-time, temporary, and contracted workers
- Research different providers and insurance carriers to determine which is best for budget and employees
- Review policies and ensure the benefits plans conforms to federal regulations
- Disclose details on pension and benefits plans to employees consistently when onboarding new employees and conducting regular performance reviews
- Train employees to understand what benefits are available and the enrollment process
- Explain how employees can access their insurance and retirement accounts after leaving the organization
Consider various ways to make the job easier. For example, outsourcing benefits administration makes the job easier for both big and small businesses.
Investing in HR software can also streamline the process, especially when the human resource information system (HRIS) offers additional features such as payroll processing.