Top 5 Insights for Making Smarter Decisions About Your Benefits Plan

Adam Singer, CPA, CA, and Elan Steinberg, CPA, CA, are the founders of Singer Steinberg. Previously, they completed their designations at PwC and KPMG then spent some time in industry, before starting their own insurance and financial advisory firm.

If you are an owner, partner, founder, executive, manager—anyone trying to attract or retain quality employees—the chances are, you don’t spend much time thinking about your company’s benefits plan. Similarly, CPAs at start-ups or small businesses often take on responsibilities across legal, strategy, and human resources. Group benefits directly influence all these functions, and can also have drastic financial implications if not properly managed.

Adam Singer, who has advised numerous Board of Directors, C-Suite Executives, and Owners on group benefit planning, say that many companies don’t properly utilize their benefit plans. This is a huge mistake, because benefit plans play an influential role in attracting quality employees and retaining your current ones. So instead of pushing it to your HR team (if you have one), here are 5 things Adam suggests you think about:

  1. The biggest mistake is not modernizing your plan.

    A lot of plans are put in place when a company gets started, then never gets looked at again. Has your business changed? Has the demographic makeup changed? Has your team grown? If your business needs have changed, make sure your plan changes as well.
  2. Your plan is not just a one-time decision—think about its ongoing implications on your company.

    At the end of the day, most brokers are sales guys. They want to show up once a year and then leave. They’re not thinking about how the plan can impact your recruiting, retention, growth, culture, HR strategy—and everything else that matters today. So before signing off, consider all these implications.

    Also, know the background of your broker: does he/she have experience running a company, or valuable credentials in certain areas? In some cases, your broker may be able to add strategic insights for your company.

  3. It’s all about making your company an enjoyable place to work. You don’t have to go crazy on benefits.

    It’s a commission business, and many brokers will try to upsell you. Naturally, having more benefits will mean higher costs, and sometimes it’s not the best decision for growth and the bottom line. I’d rather see a benefit plan that costs $90 a person instead of $150, and have more employees enrolled on the plan. It makes it easier to scale a company and grow your team instead of your costs.Your benefits package isn’t a stand alone offering, it’s part of your overall package. You must look at everything: vacation policy, RSP plans, culture, cool-ness factor of your office and location…If you have a minimal benefits plan but a great vacation plan, you could be okay. If your office is really cool, but don’t have a dental plan, that could be okay too.
  4. Understand the legal jargon—you could be liable.

    There’s a lot of legal-ese over termination, severance, and often times brokers without Human Resources experience will not realize this. If there is a lawsuit and you didn’t deal with benefits correctly, you may be susceptible to real risk. Therefore, make sure to work with someone who has the experience and knowledge to understand all the documents, and more importantly, explain them to you and your team.

  5. Your benefits package is only a useful recruitment and retention tool if your staff know about it.You pay a lot of money for benefits. If the staff just receive a welcome package and it’s not a part of your staff engagement, you’ve done yourself a disservice. You should be looking at your plan periodically and ensure it’s performing the way you want it to and is being communicated effectively to your entire team.
Closing Words

Remember that you need to look at everything as a whole (see number 3)—what you provide employees is more than just the benefits package. These are some of the many things that people don’t think about, but play a huge role in attracting and retaining the top talent.


To learn more about group benefits or read more from Adam Singer, you can visit his blog at www.singersteinberg.com/blog.

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