Streamline Benefits on Eight Tracks

By earning benchmarks, doing cost-benefit analyses, and measuring employee lost-time, you can show ROI.

September 18, 2003
Benefit integration helps companies manage employee offerings moreintelligently and comprehensively, but it isn’t a quick benefit-design fix. Tosee if it’s the answer at your company, consider the following advice fromUnumProvident Corporation:
  • Recognize the many factors that contribute to employee productivity. Hiring,training, and rewarding the right people are tools that can boost productivity.After considering your employee population, look at the nature of their absencesto determine which can be prevented. Review scheduled and unscheduled absencesto decide how much employee "lost time" is acceptable. Look at the full costof employee absences, including direct and indirect costs such as replacementworkers and retraining.

  • Assess current corporate policies, procedures, rewards, andperformance-management systems. Review the current policies and procedures inregard to return-to-work, leave, and cost-allocation structure.

  • Devise methods to capture data. Use data from payroll, lost-time, and costestimates to get absence patterns and establish integrated programimplementation baselines. Be wary of using "existing data" that may contain"hidden costs" such as FMLA leave and under-reporting of lost-time claims.By examining pre-established baselines and benchmarks, utilizing cost-benefitanalyses, and measuring employee lost-time, you can generate reports to show theCFO your progress and return on investment.

  • Initiate a return-to-work program. Developing an effective return-to-work program--a cost-saving measure essential to the success of any integratedbenefits program--should be an early step.

  • Consider integrating incrementally. Companies should determine which benefitareas should be managed and give priority to those most directly affectingworkplace productivity, such as short-term disability, long-term disability,FMLA, and workers’ compensation. Starting a small pilot within a division orlocation might demonstrate value before broader implementation.

  • Coordinate efforts between the benefits and risk-management departments.These executives should meet regularly to discuss challenges and successes.

  • Determine the needs of the entire corporation. The program must resonate withemployees both operationally and culturally. For example, if your corporateculture empowers employees, ask how they are going to feel about the newstructure, reporting methods, and controls that are often involved withintegrating benefits.

  • Choose a partner that can help every step of the way. Consultants and vendorscan provide useful information or even run your program. They can supplylost-time models to estimate costs, tap benchmark data to establish baselines,and build a case to upper management for benefit integration.

Workforce, December 2002, p. 49 -- Subscribe Now!