As major corporations and small businesses both strive to compete for new employee talent, the benefits specialist has become one of the most important positions within the organization. The benefits specialist is essentially charged with finding the best deal on all kinds of employee “perks” that add value to the job, enhance a compensation package, and keep employees from considering offers from competing employers that might flaunt their own set of benefits and perks. This job is high-stakes, and it’s also a particularly good fit for those who are technically minded, ready to compare budgets and costs, and able to recommend specific options to top-level managers and executive leadership within their organization. So, what does this specialist do throughout the day and over time?
Compare Costs to the Organization of Popular Benefit Plans
An employee benefit specialist is essentially charged first and foremost with getting the company the best possible deal on an attractive benefits package. That means they’ll compare health insurance packages from multiple companies, for example, in an effort to find the one that requires the least corporate spending for the best overall health package for employees. They’ll also apply this routine to dental packages, life insurance benefits, company investments and 401(k) plans, and much more. Typically, contracts for these benefit programs are negotiated on at least a one-year basis, though many corporations sign multi-year agreements to save on the cost of benefits even further. The specialist will determine which contract length is the best deal, and they’ll begin comparison procedures as that contract draws to a close.
Choice of Investment Mechanism, Pension Terms and Retirement Savings Plans
Specialists need to be concerned not only with employee wellbeing and health benefits, but also with the ongoing costs of a retirement program. This requires specialists to compare and contrast all available options, including company 401(k) providers, matching contribution programs, a standard fixed-benefit pension system, or IRA contribution options. These are high-stakes decisions that affect how employees can expect to live after they’ve finished their careers and moved into retirement. As a result, decisions involve extensive consultation with fellow specialists, high-level managers, executives, and meetings with employees. Changes are rare, though they’re often executed if the company can save money without lowering the quality of the program over time.
Interaction with Employees and the Public
Because of their extensive benefits knowledge, specialists may be asked to help educate employees on their options when it comes to choosing health care packages, insurance packages, and retirement programs. They may also work in some capacity with publishing houses, creating guides to each of these programs that can be printed, published and distributed by organizations all across the country. In this capacity, the specialist serves as more of an intermediary and an educator. This requires extensive human resources knowledge, seasoned benefits negotiation experience, and the ability to interface with the public in a relatable way. A master’s degree in human resource management can be beneficial for an HR professional seeking a role as a benefits specialist.
An Engaging Career for Those with a Technical and Analytical Mind
Those who have an eye for detail and like negotiating with major suppliers to get the best deal on essential employee benefits will certainly find this position to be a rewarding one. Those who apply to be a benefits specialist will be on the front lines of changes to human resources policies, providers, and packages, determining how competitive and worker-friendly their employer is over time.