Understanding the advantages to using a benefits consultant to design your company perks
By now, most companies know that an attractive and relevant employee benefits plan can be the key to attracting high performing talent, and keeping current staff loyal and motivated. The trouble these days is that the types of benefits that can be offered, and the ones newer and younger staff entering the workforce are seeking, are becoming varied and less general. Health insurance and coverage will likely always be a popular, in-demand perk for many employees, but what about non-traditional benefits like office yoga, employee reward systems, or mental health support?
Knowing how to implement and manage your employee benefits can also be a challenge. Communication can be a key factor in the success of what you offer to staff, however an Aon study in 2014 found that 63% of businesses struggled to connect benefits information and their employees. Keeping schemes fresh were also an obstacle for 44% of UK businesses surveyed, and 38% found benefits administration and reporting a problem. The good news is there’s a better way to deal with your employee benefits scheme – using an experienced benefits consultant.
This Pacific Prime Thailand article will explain what a benefits consultant is, what they do, and how they can help your business in Thailand overcome the challenges that many others stumble with.
What can I expect from a benefits consultant?
Benefits consultants come in all shapes and sizes. Some will simply offer advice on plan design, others may also act as a broker for employee benefits services – just as an insurance broker would. The most comprehensive benefits consultants will offer both of those plus ongoing administrative and reporting support, ensuring that your plan run as efficiently and effectively as possible. They can advise and procure a range of different corporate solutions, such as company health, life, and long-term disability insurance, while delivering on exceptional value-added services, including:
- Ongoing plan monitoring and performance reporting
- Administrative support for new applications, claims, and staff inquiries
- Access to plan information and advice for HR staff and business decision makers
- Wider market intelligence and information on relevant industry trends
- International presence for multi-jurisdictional companies
- Planning assistance for ensuring long-term plan sustainability
As a client, you should feel like you are in control of your benefits – not your staff, and not your benefits providers. An expert benefits consultant will support you with high quality information, advice, and their own reputation, to ensure you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to securing, communicating, structuring, and renewing your company perks.
What advantages might I find in using an employee benefits consultant?
When it comes to benefits consultants, what you get out of them will depend on different things. Do you have a well-established benefits plan already? Does the consultant have a good reputation, and strong connections with the best benefits providers around? Not all consultants are created equal. Sometimes it can also be a simple case of “you get what you pay for”, and getting the cheapest option might not be the most effective. When you’re looking for a benefits consultant to partner your company with, here’s a few things you might expect them to bring to your relationship:
Extensive market intelligence
Do you know what other law firms offer their expat staff in Thailand? Are your education sector competitors including things like inpatient care in their company health insurance options? Do all tech companies have zany wellness programs offering desk massages or free fruit smoothies? It can be impossible to tell as you likely wouldn’t give such information to your competition. It’s also not just about benefit types; it also pays to know the answer to questions like: What’s the general cost of benefits for a typical package in my industry, and what can I expect to pay to stay competitive in the future? All of these things are questions a good benefits consultant can answer.
Cost control and sustainability expertise
The costs of employee benefits increase every year, yet there’s often a number of things that can be done to reduce the inflation rate and, in some cases, seek more competitive rates at renewal time. The most basic of options is to try and change your insurer every year, going with the cheapest option each time. Will that serve your staff and company needs though? Unlikely. A decent benefits consultant will be able to work out better rates using data like your claims loss ratio, and offer you a fuller range of approaches (such as self insurance) to help you keep costs down.
Comprehensive support for your Human Resources and leadership teams
Dealing with employee benefits can be time consuming for your HR department, and a challenge for leadership teams to make the right decision, especially when they might not be getting useful data and information about plan performance. With the right benefits consultant, companies can get support for all staff inquiries, and will have greater piece of mind during renewals knowing that all of the data collation, performance analysis, and option advice can be handled by a dedicated employee benefits specialist.
Increased engagement through a benefits communication strategy
Key to increasing engagement and the usefulness of an employee benefits plan is having the right communication. Staff who have no idea about their benefits won’t use them; and unused benefits are actually a waste of money. Overused benefits can also be a problem as it means your premiums will likely jump in the following year, so explaining why some restrictions may apply to previous benefits can help reduce the number of disgruntled employees. Decent benefits consultants will offer to hold orientations and inductions for your staff, to ensure everyone’s on the right page.
Greater negotiating power and influence
When you negotiate on your own, you do so often as a sole client; a single company up against providers who often hold most of the cards in their hands. When you engage with a well-connected benefits consultant, you’re at the table with a partner that may represent several large clients, that may be linked to many or all of a provider’s competitors, and can use that leverage to get you the best possible price for your benefits plan.
How do I find the right employee benefits consultant in Thailand?
There are many consultants offering employee benefits help in Thailand, but few are truly specialist benefits consultants. To make sure you’re engaging the right partner for your company, ask yourself these questions:
- Are they aligning their business with your outcomes, or just their own? A dedicated and committed benefits consultant will ensure that the solutions they provide you with match your company goals and visions for the future, particularly where your talent acquisition targets are concerned. Lower-tier consultants may simply be trying to sell you benefits and insurance, regardless of the long-term, just to get the commission.
- Are they engaged with you during the year, or simply at renewal time? Lower-tier benefits consultants only really pop up at renewal time – it’s the only time they actually make their money. Comprehensive consultants will be in touch with you throughout the year, checking in for any issues or challenges you’re experiencing with a provider or informing you of any industry or regulatory changes that might impact your plan.
- Are they truly an expert in the industry, and how do they operate? Never be afraid to drill a potential benefits consultant with questions; better to find out how prepared and connected they are now, than after their contract has been signed. Get them to tell you about your claims data, find out who they partner with, who they sell on behalf and how much of their total portfolio they are. Asking them about benefits in your industry, and how they might support your company going forward.
It’s important that you feel you can trust your benefits consultant. They should be able to gain that trust by being knowledgeable, understanding, and engaging with your company needs and goals, and by being transparent about their own business. Ask about commission rates if you’re interested; there’s nothing to be lost by a consultant divulging their cut for services sold, only if they can prove to you why they deserve such a rate.
Why choose Pacific Prime Thailand as your employee benefits consultant?
The truth is that you won’t find a better broker that specializes in employee benefits in Thailand, Asia, or around the world. Our team have made it their goal to simplify insurance, and that starts with our clients. Simple, concise, and effective information is what helps many of our clients find and securing the best benefits plans for their own company and staff needs, and our ongoing support allows them to carry on focusing on what their business does best – and leaving the day-to-day benefits admin to us.
If you’d like to know more, check out how our unique Broker Framework works or what our approach to benefits consultancy is. We use these alongside our expert consultants, dedicated account managers and claims support teams, and leading marketing capacity to ensure that you’re getting the best out of your benefits and us throughout the year – not just at renewal time. Meet with one of our team, and you’ll learn why more and more companies around Thailand and Asia are turning to Pacific Prime Thailand as their benefits consultant specialist.