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5 comp and benefits New Year’s resolutions for 2013

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in Centerpiece,HR Management,Human Resources

by Brian Meharry

benefitsSmart comp and benefits pros are resolving to make 2013 a year of thoughtful, deliberate change. Here are five important New Year’s resolutions to consider.

1. Embrace change in your employees. As the economy regains its footing, employees are relying more on their employers to engage them. Do your part.

Towers Watson’s 2012 Global Workforce Study refers to the importance of “sustainable engagement”—that is, having 100% of the workforce optimally engaged. That doesn’t happen automatically. Employees expect their organizations to supply all of the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. They expect to work in an environment that supports their well-being. They even expect work to be fun.

Let employees know what the company’s goals are. Be clear about what is expected of them. Give them rewards and recognition when they meet those goals.

Most important, offer them on-the-job help to manage day-to-day stress, work/life balance and growing workloads. Full engagement—sustainable engagement—can’t happen without that kind of support.

2. Leverage technology. Use the technology you already have to make HR processes more efficient and to improve communication with employees. Investigate ways to link your existing systems for payroll, attendance, compliance and benefits enrollment so they “talk” to each other.

Take a broad look at your technology to uncover where parallel systems could and should be intertwined. Goal: Move to a single, integrated database. It’s not just for large organizations anymore. Now, smaller companies are realizing that it’s far easier to set up this kind of technology before hitting a rapid growth spurt.

3. Decide if you will “play or pay” when it comes to health care benefits. As the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act looms in 2014, you have a choice to make: Provide health insurance benefits or pay penalties. Either decision will affect recruitment and retention.

Suppose you decide it makes economic sense to do away with your health plan, send employees to the new state exchanges to buy their own health insurance and pay the resulting penalty. How will that affect your ability to attract qualified talent? If you opt to continue offering health insurance, will your wellness program be able to keep employees healthy and thus keep employee claims to a minimum?

Whatever you decide, health benefits for your top-earning executives will probably be a huge issue, because they’re unlikely to qualify for benefits through the federally subsidized state exchanges. If you hope to attract talent at the leadership level, their benefits will be your responsibility.

4. Shift to a performance-based culture. Key to sustainable engagement is rewarding employees for good work and for achieving goals—not just for surviving another year. As we come out of the recession, people are reassessing what value means. Giving everyone the same raise every year won’t suffice anymore. Your top-performing employees want to be rewarded for their hard work and effectiveness.

Start with a simple, measurable and well-communicated plan to pay employees based on achievement rather than tenure. Align the plan with your organization’s strategic plan, and make clear to every employee his or her role in it.

5. Conduct a holistic evaluation of your supply chain. HR pros are so busy these days that they work on one functional area of concern at a time, solve that problem and then move on. Result: Systems that don’t talk to the others, departments that don’t talk, employees who don’t talk.

Instead, try a holistic approach that focuses on event management. Evaluate whether your supply chain can add value to how common transactions—for example, hiring employees or changing coverage—affect your departmental routines and your employees’ experience. Beware redundant transactions. HR professionals must become vendor managers. Align as many functions as possible under one technology. That will eliminate duplication and redundant costs, and will allow people in HR to focus on how their organization can emerge as an employer of choice.

Insist on more alignment among HR functions to in­­crease effectiveness, and you will save time and money.

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Brian Meharry is president of CPI-HR, an Ohio employee benefits brokerage firm that also offers consulting services and HR technology solutions. Contact him at bmeharry@cpihr.com.

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