The role of the employee benefits manager has seen a dramatic change over the years
Much like other roles in HR, the role of the benefits coordinator has transitioned over the years from simply processing HR and benefits paperwork, to one of a true benefits advisor, who is readily available to answer employee questions and help steer the corporation to provide a more employee focussed range of benefits.
One role of the benefits advisor is to ensure that individuals in the organization feel valued and are being rewarded in the best way possible. Many titles can be used to describe this role, some of which are; benefits manager, benefits advisor, benefits coordinator and benefits consultant. These are all terms that are used to describe the person within the human resources department that handles the planning and execution of the employee benefits program. This is the only role in an organization that typically reports both up the management chain and down the employee chain. The role must Inform employees about the benefits choices that are available to them and also report to management to ensure they are aware happy with the way in which the HR budget is being spent. Historically, the HR department was able to dictate to the employees the benefits that would be offered to them and the employees often had little say in the level or type of health coverage and other employee benefits that they would receive. This approach was formulated in a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude and employees had little choice in the matter, which often made HR at odds with employees who were forced to use lackluster or inappropriate benefits. In more recent times the role has morphed to become one of an advisor role, where the benefits advisor has been more responsive to employees. The role now is expected to be available to employees to answer their questions and queries and ensure that the benefits package that they offer fits the employees needs, expectations and requirements.
How Has The Human Resource Department Evolved Over the Years
Human Resources Expectations in the Past
In the past, the Human resources department would often work as if it was totally separate to the rest of the organization and they would make decisions in a vacuum.The HR department was there to resolve conflicts when needed and to handle the process of payroll and employee benefits, but had poor interaction with employees and their needs. The HR department is a cost center rather than a revenue producer or profit center, and this aspect reduces the organizational power from HR managers, making their role difficult. To improve company culture and build morale the HR department would often offer perks such as “Free Coffee” and an annual holiday party, but did little else. The main emphasis of their work was placed on paperwork and personal management.
Human Resources Today
Today, more and more organizations work closely with the HR department to develop plans and work out ideas for accomplishing new goals for the enterprise. Nowadays, the HR department adds value to the organization where they will assist in analysing corporate data and identify inefficient processes and procedures, that can in turn actually help save the organization money, thus become more of a revenue producer. The “new” HR department works on building a brand that will allow the organization to attract the best employees. Once the best employees are hired, the aim of the benefits advisor is to retain them in the organization and it is through the employee benefits packages that they are able to do reduce employee attrition.
The Benefits Department in HR is Becoming More A La Carte
In the past, the main employee benefits offered by any organization were just health and retirement plans any other benefits were not commonly offered. Nowadays, even though the more traditional health and retirement benefits are still highly valued by most employees, they are looking for more individualized benefits as well. Large and small organizations have responded to this new need by rethinking their benefits packages and are constantly researching and finding new ways to remain competitive. This is where the role of the Benefits advisor is now moving to. They are the person in the organization that is responsible for ensuring all the employees needs are met and that a whole variety of perks and benefits are offered to make sure that the best employees remain loyal by keeping them happy. The benefits department in most organizations now offer a really wide range of benefits that do not stop at just health and wellness. Organizations now commonly offer child care incentives, commuter benefits, discount entertainment and many others. The title and role of the benefits professional in HR has changed considerably as the needs of employees is met, but the organization may end up with a number of entitled workers where their expectations may always oustrip the organizations ability to deliver.