Groundhog Day: A popular U.S. tradition originating in the late 1800's that is celebrated every February 2. The superstition suggests that if the honored groundhog emerges from Gobbler’s Knob and sees his shadow, winter will continue for six more weeks. But, if the groundhog does not see his shadow, spring will arrive early.
While the folklore is certainly interesting, it is the 1993 movie that I think of everytime Groundhog Day comes around. You know the one – Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an arrogant Pittsburgh TV weatherman, and while covering the annual event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, finds himself in an endless time loop…. repeating the same day again and again, until he eventually reexamines himself and his life.
As a business leader of an organization, do you often find yourself in an endless cycle (like Phil Connors) when it comes to employee health benefits and renewals?
The script goes like this:
Every year, employers receive the news of an annual rate increase, followed by a report from their benefits broker on the other carrier-based plan options. Negotiations take place, but employers are still usually left with an increase in annual costs.
This process typically repeats itself every year, with employers and employees spending more money each year in increased premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs.
Sound familiar? I thought it might.
But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if tomorrow, you didn’t wake up in Punxsutawney?
What if instead of your annual negotiation and rate increase, you took a more strategic approach to your health benefits program?
Forward-thinking benefit advisors help employers take a different approach to group health plan purchasing by asking strategic questions and understanding business metrics and challenges up front, and well before renewal time.
A thoughtful, strategic approach is used when making the majority of company decisions, so it makes sense to include employee benefits (a "Top 3" business expense) in those strategic initiatives. This type of planning (especially for big changes) should begin at least six months before your next renewal in order to provide enough time for strategic alignment, as well as buy-in and feedback from key stakeholders.
We’ve previously written a blog about Six Key Activities CFOs and CHROs Should Perform Together to Optimize Employee Benefit Programs to help employers best position themselves for success when it comes to employee benefits planning and programming. It’s a great place to get started.
Rather than reacting to “carrier-focused” offerings in the 11th hour of renewal planning, the dialogue provided above will help you create a multi-year “employer-focused” group health plan strategy. This type of strategy will allow you to drill down into the details and begin to determine which benefit partners can best help achieve your company’s long term financial and cultural goals, while delivering an enhanced employee experience.
Strategic benefit initiatives might include outcomes like:
So, how does the story end?
Employees have a benefit program that they love, that they use, and that they love to use. And employers have happy, healthy employees.
Around here, we call that happily ever after. Just ask Ned Ryerson - BING!
Don’t get trapped in a never-ending loop of predictable benefits that are just “good enough” until next year. It’s time to rethink employee benefits and strategically take charge of your company’s health plan strategy.
G. Scot Grooms, CEBS
President & CEO
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