Managing your employee benefits is by no means a quick and easy job. From ensuring you're meeting compliance deadlines to getting an early start on implementing necessary changes, timing is absolutely everything. Don't wait for deadlines to be upon you.
You can check in on your plan's performance mid-year with an employee benefit plan audit. The snapshot a mid-year audit provides will help you to spot potential problems early, allowing you to more easily adjust your plan so that, by year-end, it is as effective as possible -- and well within legal requirements.
Keeping On Top of Compliance
COVID-19 turned keeping up with compliance into chaos. Thankfully, that most hectic period of constant changes in response to the pandemic seems to finally be slowing down. Our new calmer waters haven't made staying on top of new requirements and regulations any easier, though. There's still the day-to-day to worry about and new laws coming into effect every year. From a glance, it's overwhelming, but you can use a mid-year employee benefit plan audit to help you prepare.
Here are some tips for staying on top of new compliance regulations as they come your way:
Utilize mini-audits. That’s what a mid-year employee benefit plan audit is, after all! As SHRM suggests, a planned mid-year mini-audit can help you to course correct any rising issues, and it’s definitely preferable to a late-year panic audit to fix a problem that’s taken you by surprise.
Tap a member of your team to be the expert. Tracking incoming compliance changes and ensuring the proper steps are taken is a big job that requires frequent monitoring. Consider designating one individual to manage it. Keeping the responsibility in the hands of one person ensures that, in the long run, you'll be cutting down on errors and confusion from miscommunication.
Hire outside help. If, like many, you’re doing it all on your own and tracking changes is too overwhelming, don’t worry – you still have plenty of options. A third-party administrator, benefits broker, or even your own auditor can keep you and your business updated and informed on changes in compliance.
Make use of those vendor partners if you have them. If you’re currently working with a broker, auditor, or third-party administrator, make sure they’re meeting your needs. They should be available to check in with you regularly to ensure you aren’t rushed and unprepared when deadlines approach.
Seek support from other HR professionals. Join HR communities, seek out informative social media resources like LinkedIn, podcasts, or YouTube channels, and reach out to other HR professionals in your network. Not only will embracing community keep you informed, you'll probably pick up some useful tips for implementing necessary changes or offer advice to help someone else out, yourself.
Get your updates straight from the source. The IRS and Department of Labor websites may leave you sorting through some pretty dense text, but you'll get the most up-to-date and correct information directly from those sources.
Create a compliance calendar and checklist. You have a lot of reports, forms, and deadlines to track. If you don't already have a roadmap of upcoming deadlines and the documents necessary for each one, make one. By taking the time now, you'll be saving yourself from a bigger scramble later. Your benefits advisor may also have one ready to go.
Taking time in the middle of the year to check in on your current plan offerings will allow you to identify issues early. You'll be left with a lot more time to nip those potential problems in the bud, saving yourself and your company from a lot of stress or even potentially steep penalties later.
A Mid-Year Audit Makes Staying Competitive That Much Easier
When it comes to recruiting and talent retention, a standout benefits package is key. Your organization needs offerings that appeal to the sort of people you want on your team, but knowing exactly what those benefits are and successfully implementing them are two different things. Making changes to your benefits plan is a time-consuming process, and your best chance of success is prepping for those changes early.
Employ a mid-year benefits audit to give yourself a head start on making the changes necessary to keep your company successful in the years ahead. Look both within and without your organization to pin down necessary market updates.
Seek employee feedback. Your workers know what they want, so ask them about it. One-on-one discussions, focus groups, and pulse surveys can be used to gauge which parts of your current offerings your employees love and where they feel like improvement is necessary. Use this information to help you decide what, if anything, to add or remove from your current offerings.
Check your usage data and pair it with employee input. Your reports alone will tell you which benefits your employees are taking advantage of, and pairing that data with input from your people can paint an even clearer picture of what's going on. Is an underutilized benefit simply unpopular, or do steps need to be taken to ensure workers know it's there? Is ease of use an issue? Combining reporting data with survey responses can answer questions like these.
Scope out what other successful companies are offering. The largest, most successful companies are trendsetters offering the sort of benefits that attract top talent in their industry. Draw inspiration from their offerings.
Stay up-to-date on benefits trends by reading the studies. Studies, reports, and summary articles are published fairly regularly, mapping out which trends are growing in popularity in general and among certain demographics.
Seek out champions within your organization. Audit time can help you to track down which departments will most benefit from a given change to your benefits offerings. Use that information to track down potential champions for the changes you want or need to make. They’ll be a great source of support when implementing new initiatives.
Start prepping that pitch. One of the biggest hurdles you'll encounter in implementing changes to your employee benefits plan is securing buy-in from leadership. Your mid-year audit will give you a ton of information about what's popular, what's useful, and which benefits see superior ROI. Use this information to start preparing your presentation to your organization's leadership team.