Posts Tagged benefits

How to Combat the Cost of Employee Benefits Without Impacting Coverage

How to Combat the Cost of Employee Benefits Without Impacting Coverage

Creating an employee benefits package that provides your employees and their families with the support that they need without placing undue stress on the organization is a fine balancing act. Employee benefits continue to rise in cost — much more than the average cost of living increases can cover. Organizations are continually looking for ways to provide a comprehensive benefits package that is still affordable for employees, which can feel extremely difficult at the best of times. Here are some tips from benefits professionals to help you combat the rising cost of employee benefits without negatively impacting their coverage levels.

High-Deductible Health Plans

High-deductible health plans — when paired with a Health Savings Account or HSA — have been growing in popularity over the past several years as a way to ameliorate the rising costs of health care. While they are not for everyone, high-deductible health care plans provide the vast majority of Americans with a reasonably-priced alternative that still offers the coverage that people who are generally healthy need. The money in an HSA belongs completely to the individual and is not lost year over year if it is not used. Deposits grow over time and can be withdrawn without a tax penalty for healthcare-related expenses. Since these plans are less expensive than traditional plans, they can save both employers and employees a significant amount of money.

Efficient Pharmacy Plan Usage

Providing pharmaceutical support for your employees is another rapidly rising cost of healthcare. Instead of limiting benefits, consider requiring pre-authorization for specific classes of medication. This provides you with a way to efficiently manage your pharmacy plan usage when even generic drugs constitute a dramatically rising cost. Any time formularies are changed, it’s important to let your employees know so they can work with their doctors to adjust their regimen if needed.

Encourage Accountability

When employees understand that their use of health care plans impacts the entire organization, they may think twice about over-utilizing services. An added benefit of HSAs is that they can raise awareness of the total cost of healthcare. This transparency benefits employees and employers alike, as the majority of costs associated with the benefits are being charged directly to the employee. This can be an eye-opening experience as employees begin to see the value of the services that they’re utilizing over the course of a year.



Lifestyle Management and Telehealth

Bringing lifestyle management to your workforce can be a tricky proposition and one that truly depends on the culture of the organization. If you have an employer that is willing to invest upfront in creating a wellness plan, the long-term outlook for the organization is much greater as employees opt into the program. Telehealth programs are similar — it can take a bit of time and education before your staff buys in to the idea of “phone a doc” being an acceptable alternative to visiting a clinic or hospital.

These cost-effective options to in-person care and wellness initiatives allow you to reduce the overall cost of healthcare over time and still maintain a high level of employee benefits for your staff.

Keeping your employees happy, whether they are a brand new member of the team or a long time associate should be a top priority.

Download our complimentary 10-Step Checklist to Help Make Your New Employee’s First Week Great for some useful tips we’ve gathered for your convenience.



If you’re ready to speak to the professionals at Innovative Broker Services today, you can reach us at 916-932-2864 or email us at

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3 Top Tips for Communicating a Change in Employee Benefits

3 Top Tips for Communicating a Change in Employee Benefits

Changes to employee benefits can be difficult to manage. If they aren’t handled correctly, employee morale can suffer and employees may be more hesitant to participate in group plans. Not all employees are averse to change. There are some who experience dissatisfaction with their current benefits. According to a study by Clutch, 52% of them wish their employer would increase a benefit they already have, while 14% want their employers to offer completely different benefits.

While changes to benefits often occur annually in order to stay competitive and meet legal requirements, some employees may not view those changes as welcome, especially if there are substantial changes in coverage or the premiums increase. These top tips will help you help your employees through the changes.

Share information about employee benefits changes early and often.

The earlier you can alert employees to changes coming down the pike, the more time they have to prepare for it. Let them know you are keeping them in the loop by sharing information on the changes as often as possible. If you don’t provide information and are slow to offer updates you could be perceived as secretive and untrustworthy.

In other words, employees may begin to wonder just what you’re hiding. The more transparent you are, the more trustworthy you appear. When you have the trust of your employees, they will be much more likely to accept the changes to benefits, allowing you to advise them and guide them.




Explain the reasons for the change.

Typically, people appreciate honesty and transparency. Explaining the reasons for key changes in employee benefits can help with increasing understanding. When they can understand why the change was necessary and why the decision was made, they will often be much quicker to accept them. When you can show them the advantages of the change for them and for the company as a whole, it may be met with more positivity.

You may want to create a list of frequently asked questions, with the answers, to give to affected employees. This way, your words are supported by a written document that they can take with them. It gives them time to read and process the information, so they can better understand it. If they forget a portion of the changes, they will have the document as a reference.

Show compassion and empathy – This is people’s money.

Often employee benefits changes mean personal changes for the employee, such as a bigger chunk taken out of their budget due to increased premiums or changing their primary care doctor. When these changes are looming, it is natural to be upset and even panic. When humans are afraid or frustrated they may not show their best side. Showing some compassion and empathy can quickly diffuse the situation and help make the change a little easier.

Remember, you are dealing with people’s money and that can be a touchy subject for them. Having to pay more can be a source of fear and changing doctors can be frustrating. The calmer you are, showing sensitivity to what that person is going through, the easier you can make the transition for them.


Visit our website and download the free checklist, 8 Easy Steps to Your Best Open Enrollment Ever.



Changes in benefits can be a sticky situation, no matter your industry or organization. We can help. Innovative Broker Services offers innovative human resources tools that will help you make the process smoother for your employees. Call 916-932-2864 today to talk to one of our knowledgeable, experienced representatives and find out how we can help.

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3 Reasons Paperless Employee Benefits Are on the Rise

3 Reasons Paperless Employee Benefits Are on the Rise

The days when you received a massive stack of paper to mull over during open enrollment time every year may be coming to an end. Each year, more workplaces are moving towards a more streamlined approach, that allows employees to review selection choices for the year online. There are a number of benefits to both the employee and the business, making it unsurprising that this convenient method of making annual selections continues to gain traction. The growing need to protect personal information and show full compliance with HIPAA and other data protection standards is crucial. When annual elections are completed online, you reduce the chance of an employee accidentally seeing private information and can even reduce the overall cost. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes the significant surge in the cost of employee benefits, which may be the most compelling reason of all for making the shift. We’ll discuss 3 key reasons why employee benefits are moving from paper to a digital format.

1. Year-Over-Year Comparisons

Annual benefits elections can be a bit confusing, and trying to remember what you selected for years past is challenging. When benefits elections are moved online, employees appreciate the ability to look back over their previous year’s usage of benefits to compare and contrast which plan will be most effective for their needs. This year-over-year comparison is especially important in years when benefits change significantly.



2. Employee Benefits Elections Can Be Completed Anywhere

Today’s diverse workforce may spend every day in the office, a few days a week — or none at all! Remote employees and those who work from home at least a portion of the time may find it difficult to get to a traditional employee benefits meeting to receive printouts and ask questions. Instead, an online employee benefits portal provides them with the information that they need to make an informed decision while keeping their personal details at their fingertips. Final benefits decisions can then be made from any computer with internet access. This flexibility reduces the time and attention required by the HR department, while still offering a superior experience to employees. Allowing employees to self-service on an online portal can also reduce the elapsed time needed for benefits enrollment, as employees can find answers to their questions on a website portal any time during the day or night instead of during the work day with paper forms.

going paperless

3. Reduce Compliance Concerns

Regulatory requirements are strict and expanding to become more rigorous each year. When you utilize an online benefits portal for your employee elections, you are able to maintain a clean audit trail. This protects the organization as well as reducing the administrative overhead on your human resources team. Paper-based systems require a lot more manual effort and can lead to a lack of consistency both in the data input and in overall confidentiality. It would be difficult to prove that no one took a peek at someone else’s benefits information when using a paper system — but much easier to provide a measure of integrity with a login-based system.

Protecting your organization and providing the best possible experience for your employees during open enrollment shouldn’t be mutually exclusive goals. With online employee benefits programs, you are improving your overall process and reducing the burden on human resources professionals.

For more open enrollment tips, download our complimentary checklist, 8 Easy Steps to Your Best Open Enrollment Ever



Learn more about our Paperless HR solution: 

If you’d like to learn more about how our easy-to-use online benefits portal will help your business be successful, then give our benefits specialists at Innovative Broker Services a call to schedule your benefits review at 916-932-2864 or email

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How to Reduce Confusion During Open Enrollment Season

How to Reduce Confusion During Open Enrollment Season

There are so many changes taking place with employee benefits and insurance; open enrollment is more confusing than ever. HR departments across the country are taking steps to try and cut down on the misinformation while ensuring that employees have what they need to make informed decisions. Research by Digatate shows the importance of organized, clear onboarding:

  • New hires are twice as likely to seek new job opportunities in the near future when their organizations do not handle onboarding well.
  • 25% of new hires who have a poor onboarding experience will have a negative view of the company and will be unlikely to recommend it to friends or family members.


Be available to answer questions

An open door policy is always a good idea. It makes you approachable and gives employees a place to turn for answers to their questions. Depending on the size of your organization, you may choose to request that employees make an appointment which will help ensure employee privacy as well. You may also be able to answer some questions over email or phone.


Educate employees on their options

Not all employees have the same needs so be prepared to present options for different demographics, starting with the first contact. Employees need to see the different options that they have from the onset. This can be explained in general terms in the early stages of open enrollment, but make sure you have targeted information for each group (family, single, nearing retirement age, etc.) so they know what is available to them.



Communicate regularly, clearly, and concisely

It doesn’t matter if you are working with 100 employees or 1,000, your communication needs to be as clear as possible. Keep the conversation going, don’t stop after one meeting or a single email discussing the open enrollment period. The survey report, What Your Employees Think About Your Benefits Communication, noted that 49% of employees said making decisions about their health insurance was very stressful and 41% said it was extremely confusing. Make the process as easy and clear as possible by providing information in a variety of formats such as face-to-face meetings, email, handouts, and a web-based employee information portal.


Make information available in a variety of formats

In today’s tech-heavy world, you have a number of communication methods right at your fingertips. Choose several; it isn’t wise to have just one. Handouts or brochures, email, text, and even video can all help you get the message out and keep the message clear. Prepare beforehand, and organize your material so that distribution is easy. You may find it useful to create a website where employees can download information and schedule an appointment to talk to you.


Bring in a third party to talk to employees

Bringing in a third party to talk to employees can minimize confusion and increase the power of your message. They may address things you haven’t considered or things you didn’t think were important. Sometimes it helps to see the situation through a fresh pair of eyes. They may even be able to help you create the educational material and prepare for meeting with individuals to discuss their enrollment options. Representatives from specific insurance companies can better address employee questions and concerns about certain programs and policies.

Minimize the confusion surrounding open enrollment season. Let us help. Contact Innovative Broker Services today at 916-932-2864 or via email to

You can download our free checklist “8 Easy Steps to Your Best Open Enrollment Ever” for some tips to help you and your team prepare for the busiest time of the year.

What are your pain points during open enrollment? What strategies do you use to help your employees better understand their options?




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How Your Benefits Broker Should Guide You During Open Enrollment

How Your Benefits Broker Should Guide You During Open Enrollment


The period leading up to open enrollment is an excellent opportunity for your Human Resources department staff to reconnect with individual team members. You can learn about exciting new developments in their lives and see how you can serve the organization’s needs more effectively. Here’s how your benefits broker should be helping to guide you to have the best open enrollment yet.

Encourage Early Adoption

A seasoned benefits broker should be able to offer some insight on how to get your late adopters on board super early in the season. If they’re able to provide you with a communications timeline and suggested messaging, it will save you time and effort during the busy open enrollment period. Consider offering perks to specific individuals who have a history of being the last to fill out their benefits information — you might be surprised how a small benefit can bring people around quickly and save you frustration!

Train the Trainer

Training the trainer is a concept that works well for a variety of different projects. When your benefits broker takes the time to run through the entire program thoroughly with the HR team, they’ll feel much more confident answering questions from staff as they arise. Your broker should provide you with the solid documentation and communication structure that you’ll need to be successful.



Proactive Technology

Technology can make life so much easier, and open enrollment is no different. However, when technology is introduced late or not fully de-bugged before introduction, it can cause a great deal of added stress to a period of time when you are already struggling with priorities. Plus, users are not likely to adopt technology solutions for their open enrollment process that they don’t trust to be foolproof. They need to have a high level of confidence that everything is going to work exactly as planned so they don’t end up with missing information on their open enrollment forms once they’ve been processed. When your benefits broker introduces technology early enough to test and fully work out the bugs, you’re in for a much more pain-free process throughout the enrollment period.


From technology to training and communication, your benefits broker is a key part of ensuring that your organization’s open enrollment period flows smoothly and flawlessly. You can always be confident that you are receiving the best possible service from a knowledgeable professional when you work with Innovative Broker Services. Their brokers are experienced in helping businesses just like yours work through a pain-free open enrollment period. Contact Innovative Broker Services today at 916-932-2864 or via email to




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