Gary Taffet On Constructing an Employee Benefits Plan


As an insurance veteran and a long-time consultant with Reliance Insurance Group, Gary Taffet is no stranger to employee benefits administration. In fact, that’s really his core specialty. He has worked with countless corporate clients, helping them to design, audit, and implement their benefits plans, and ultimately ensuring they are treating their employees well, looking out for the future of the company itself, and exercising the utmost in financial responsibility.

Indeed, Gary Taffet is zealous about the design of employee benefit plans—as evidenced by his willingness to provide a few professional tips, for HR departments and plan administrators who are looking either to develop a new plan or simply to fine-tune an existing one. Read on for a few of Mr. Taffet’s insights.

Why design an employee benefits plan?

First and foremost: Why is this question even worth addressing? Because studies show, time and time again, that employees want more than just a paycheck; they want to feel appreciated, which in turn helps them feel like their job is secure and improves performance. A solid employee benefits plan can help your company to provide its valued staff members with just this level of affirmation.

It is not just good for employees, though, but also for the company itself. A good benefits plan boosts morale and improves employee retention. Because it reduces employee turnover, it can ultimately prove very cost-effective in the long run. Additionally, having a good employee benefits plan can help your business attract top-shelf talent.

Employee Recognition

This leads into an important point about what an employee benefits program really is. As Gary Taffet notes, contrary to popular opinion, it is not just about pension plans, gold watches, and health insurance. True enough: All of those might prove important components in your employee benefits program—but they are not the chief purpose of your plan, and it is critical that you not miss the forest for the trees.

Ultimately, a benefits program is about recognition. When you recognize your employees and affirm their efforts, you encourage much greater engagement with the company. In other words, employee engagement begins with employer engagement. Make sure you communicate clearly with your employees that their work is appreciated, and that the benefits you offer are a reflection of that.

Appreciating Your Employees—Inexpensively

Gary Taffet notes that there are plenty of ways in which you can show your appreciation for your employees, without necessarily blowing your budget. Some examples include:

  • Put together a committee of employees who can help raise a ruckus when a particular staff member’s company anniversary arrives—perhaps arranging for flowers, or a giant cookie.
  • Hold an annual Employee Appreciation Day—which can prove as simple as catering lunch or breakfast.
  • Send a baby blanket to any employee who welcomes a new child into his or her family.

Avoiding the “Kitchen Sink” Approach

All of this is to say that it is good, from time to time, to lavish your employees—and this extends into the more basic stuff of vacation time, retirement plans, health insurance, and so forth. Here, Gary Taffet says, there is a certain balancing act that companies must adhere to. You need to show your employees that they are valued, which means you must not act miserly; at the same time, it is imperative to avoid providing employees with everything but the kitchen sink!

Trying to give your employees anything and everything can prove disastrous, if only because your expenses will skyrocket! Rather, it is important to come up with the types of benefits that your employees truly want and need—focusing on quality rather than trying to dazzle them with options. The question is, how?

Communication is Key

The key, of course, lies in communication. It is best not to have employee benefits decided only by members of management. Instead, actually talk with employees and find out what kinds of benefits they would most appreciate. Below, Gary Taffet offers a few basic tips and techniques for companies seeking to communicate with their employees about benefits.

Gary Taffet On Employee Benefits Communication

Here are a few suggestions for getting your employees engaged in the benefits process:

  • First, consider the different demographics in your workplace—and tailor your message accordingly. If you have young, fresh-out-of-college employees, they may not care about retirement plans quite as much, but they will care about professional development opportunities. Make sure your message fits your audience.
  • Try branding your employee benefit programs. When an enrollment period is approaching, make posters that are visually striking, informative, and inviting. Hang them in break rooms and in high-traffic areas. Do the same thing when planning any informational meetings about your benefits program.
  • Remember that you are an expert in benefits, but your employees are not. There is no need to overwhelm them with jargon or to inundate them with information that they do not really need. Make sure they understand what their options are, but keep your communication with them simple and easy.
  • Another important tip: Coordinate all of your communication efforts. You may provide your employees with benefits that come from several different providers, but your employees probably do not wish to receive frequent updates from each individual provider. Instead, integrate and coordinate the pertinent information into weekly e-mails or employee newsletters.
  • Promote employee wellness programs. These programs are hardly frivolous. If you can encourage your employees to get healthier, their healthcare costs may go down—which would prove a financial boon for you and for them!
  • Finally, make sure that communication is an utmost priority—meaning, make sure you do not hesitate to communicate any benefits changes or important happenings to your employees.

As Gary Taffet notes, by following these tips, you can make absolutely certain that your employee benefits program is clearly understood by your employees—and that they, in turn, feel as though you are recognizing and appreciating them!

A Final Word

At the end of the day, Gary Taffet is well-versed in employee benefits, and he enjoys sharing his expertise with other professionals and business leaders. He is a long-time employee benefits veteran, to say nothing of an insurance pro, something made evident by his role with Reliance. According to Gary Taffet, his work is rewarding because it allows him to help companies save money and treat their employees well!

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