Table of Contents
Table of Contents
What Is a Benefits Manager?
Also known as a benefits administrator, a benefits manager focuses on the selection, creation, and administration of an organization’s benefits program. This can include retirement plans, wellness programs, leave policies, and insurance, such as health, life, and disability. The responsibilities of benefits managers may also include compensation. It is their responsibility to remain up-to-date on the most recent and relevant benefits in order to maintain the best benefit offerings they can. Benefit managers are the primary contact for third parties such as benefit brokers and plan vendors.
Why Are Benefits Managers Important?
This position sources the best choice of benefits at the most competitive rates. In addition, they educate employees on the benefits, negotiate the costs to the employees, and oversee all claims submitted to the providers by employees. In sizable organizations that must remain as competitive as possible to attract and retain the best talent, having the best benefits possible is an absolute must. Benefits managers:
- Secure the most comprehensive benefits package through conducting research, negotiating with vendors, and designing benefits programs.
- Ensure standardization of administrative procedures, such as the data changes associated with the loss or gain of an employee and documenting compliance with government regulations.
- Educate employees by designing and distributing materials, working with employees one-on-one, and coordinating benefits education during events such as orientations and open enrollment.
- Maintains programs through monitoring costs, funding, employee data, and billing processes.
Responsibilities of a Benefits Manager
The benefits manager wears many hats in order to keep up with the competitive and rapidly changing benefits market. It’s also within the realm of their responsibilities to oversee things such as research, audits, billing, benefits processing, government compliance and so much more.
Research, Update and Ensure Compliance
The benefits manager is the primary researcher when it comes to finding the best plans for the best value and what benefits will be most valuable to their employees. They conduct research by comparing quotes for benefits, surveying their employees, and collecting and analyzing data. With benefits constantly changing and growing, a benefits manager needs to be on top of the latest trends.
Another thing they stay current with is compliance with all government regulations. This includes things such as:
- Funding benefits as required by the plan rules as well as state and national laws.
- Reporting to plan participants and government agencies regarding financial conditions and operations.
- In the case of an investigation, providing information and documents as required by law.
- Distributing all legally required notices to employees, such as HIPAA policies, COBRA notices, and grandfathered plan disclosures.
Keep in mind that failure to remain compliant with all employee benefits laws (COBRA, HIPAA, ERISA, etc.) can lead to fines, penalties, or even criminal charges. A more complete guide to compliance can be found here.
Communicate, Coordinate and Negotiate
A benefits manager is the primary contact for plan vendors or other third parties associated with benefits. They coordinate all enrollments and benefit changes due to things such as a new hire, beneficiary changes, terminations, and claims. As the primary contact, they are in charge of negotiating the best benefits for the best value.
Maintain Data and Oversee Billing
Benefit managers maintain data and employee benefit files. This includes group benefits databases and employee payroll records.
Educate and Provide Budgetary Insight
As the educator for benefits, benefits managers play a major role in designing and providing educational materials for orientations, onboarding, and open enrollment. They analyze the information in order to develop plans and budgetary recommendations.
How to Become a Benefits Manager
There are certain requirements to meet in order to fill a benefits manager’s role.
A bachelor’s degree or equivalent is generally required. Additionally, extensive knowledge of all regulations and compliance requirements is a must. This can be acquired through the Compliance Certification Board (CCP), a compensation management specialist (CMS), or a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) program.
Typically, five years of experience in related areas is necessary. Experience as a supervisor may also be required.
Qualities of an Excellent Benefits Manager
If you’re considering becoming a benefits manager, you may wonder what qualities would make you most successful. You’ll need to adapt to change, analyze data, negotiate, and lead.
Adapt to Change
It is the duty of a benefits manager to actively research employee needs as well as benefit options and rates. As these constantly change, the benefits manager must be able to adapt to them in order to retain the best benefits package at the best price. Additionally, government regulations surrounding things such as enrollments, COBRA, terminations, changes, beneficiaries, disability, accident and death claims, rollovers, QDROs, QMCSOs, distributions, loans, hardships, and compliance testing are constantly evolving, and the benefits manager is responsible to be in compliance at all times.
Strong Analytical Skills
To dissect data from employees and benefits plans, a benefits manager must have a keen eye to analyze information and make strategic adaptations. Analysis of current budgetary needs and the needs of employees is a constant necessity. In addition, they need to remain educated on the trends of the industry.
Ability to Negotiate
As the liaison between the organization and all third parties related to benefits, it is the sole duty of the benefits manager to have top-notch negotiation skills. There is a balance that must be struck between the needs of the employees and the amount the employee (or company) pays. How the plans, options, and rates of the benefits package is negotiated determines whether or not that balance is struck.
Strong Leadership Ability
To coordinate numerous third-party benefit vendors, organizational higher-ups and employees take clear, concise communication and the ability to lead effectively.
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Kayla is the Chief Innovation Officer at Hero Culture, where the passion is to create company cultures of retention using the power of personality.