Creating an Intentional Company Benefits Package

Health benefits for your employees should evolve with your company and highlight the key wants and needs of those on your team. In this episode of Risky Business, Colin Rooke  and Paul Martin talk about the different factors to consider when creating an intentional company benefits package.

 

Listen to the full episode here, or read the full transcript below

 

Paul Martin: Welcome to Risky Business Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers. This is Paul Martin, the business commentator here on CKOM. You hear my commercials where I talk about the Butler Byers’ step by step reduction or risk assessment system.

Joining me to talk about that is Colin Rooke, the Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist for the Butler Byers Commercial Insurance. Today we’re going to change the topic a little bit, Colin. We’ve been talking a lot about more traditional property casualty, sort of general insurance stuff. I wanna switch horses a little bit and talk about another aspect of business insurance, but this is really around benefits plans for employees, these kinds of things. Pension, health, that kind of stuff. This is an area that your firm is involved in, not you yourself, but the firm is, correct?

Colin Rooke: That’s right. Butler Byers does group benefits as you just mentioned. I’m not licensed myself, but I am involved in the strategy around our benefits planning. I attend almost every single benefits call, especially in the initial stages because we’ve found … and really again the purpose of our whole risk assessment system is it’s not catered to just one area. Yes, we’ve talked a lot about property casualty, but it’s the same assessment that we use to negotiate group benefits terms as well. Anyone that’s gone through our system will soon realize that we talk a lot about the employee side of things, HR side of things.

Colin Rooke: Again, there’s a point to all that. If we improve company performance, if we identify risks and the cost of doing nothing, and our companies as a result improve and grow, we’re not just gonna keep that story to the P&C market, we’re gonna use that for benefits as well. I was at an event, it was a conference, and I had a sales manager for one of our top benefits insurer come up to me and said, “Hey, I’ve heard your show,” and, “Oh, thanks, what did you think?” He said, “It’s just amazing that the topics you’re discussing are so relevant to what we’re doing on the benefits side and the education that we try and provide to our clients that if you invest into your employees, if you’re aware of the cost of doing nothing like you discuss, that’s going to affect their benefits premium.”

Colin Rooke: For example, if you have a culture of wellness that the company has made a commitment, we are going to work on this, we want a healthy company. Well, healthy people are going to use … are gonna miss a lot less work. They’re gonna have a lot less nagging injuries. There’s gonna be a lot less reliance on antibiotics. Your claims are going to decrease. Any business owner that’s listening right now that’s paid benefits premiums, you know that the less your employees use, the less you pay. Again, it just shows how important it is to invest in your people, to identify those risks, to change behaviors, which will ultimately affect your results.

Paul Martin: It really all starts with your assessment. You go in and so no matter what form of insurance a business owner’s looking at, whether it’s to insure my building, to insure say, cash flow or to insure the health of my employees, the common thread in all of this is your assessment is that you go back and you really analyze the inner workings of the company and try and grade them and say, “You’re not so strong here. You’re excellent here. But on that not so strong part, we could tinker with a little bit. If you tried this and did that, you’d be in a better position, and you’d rank higher with the insurance companies.”

Colin Rooke: Exactly. Without our assessment, we’re not gonna have that information. We’ll have no better an idea of what you’re doing and not doing than the information your current broker has now. It’s our job to learn the whole story. It’s our job to know, and I say this all the time and every client I think that’s ever met with me has heard me say this, but we need to know where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’re going, and that is the foundation of our report that we use to negotiate on behalf of our clients. But it is also used to be our working model.

Colin Rooke: Great. We’ve saved you some money on your insurance or we’ve enhanced coverages or we’ve moved you to a more favorable market, but really that’s the tip of the iceberg. This becomes a working model to say we’ve identified a problem or we know ares that you’re great in, but we have a plan to either continuously improve or find an area where we really need to improve. It’s all a result of having these talks. It’s our ongoing model, and it’s this assessment followed by a plan that gets us there.

Paul Martin: Just remind me, this assessment is free of charge, right?

Colin Rooke: It is. At the end of the day we’re gonna ultimately ask for the client to trust us with your insurance, but we view it as again a part of doing our job. We’re not representing our clients adequately if we don’t help them manage risk. We can’t help them manage risk if we don’t cover all areas of risk.

Colin Rooke: Financing risk by way of an insurance policy is one way of dealing with risk. It’s not the only way of dealing with risk, and there’s not a financial model available for most risk. We’ve developed and we’ve changed the way we work and the way we approach to say again, our job as risk managers is to do just that.  Manage risk in a global sense, not a specific insurable sense.

Colin Rooke: It’s the same argument we use on the benefits side as well. If we’re gonna negotiate, for example, long-term disability rates, wouldn’t it be nice to know that we have healthy, happy people that are eating right and exercising and here’s the following programs we have in place, here’s the educational seminars that we have our employees attend. Twice an hour we stand up and do a 30-second stretch. Whatever it is, if you’re the one determining the rate that, that client’s going to pay for that coverage, and you’re comparing Company A where you have all that information compared to Company B where there’s an application and there’s an experience letter, who are you going to gamble on?

Paul Martin: Yeah, you’ll always take the one that provides you with more information.

Colin Rooke: In a nutshell, that’s the service that we provide followed by a plan to actually improve the organization. The assessment just tells us where you are today, and the plan is gonna tell us where we could be, where we’re gonna go.

The assessment just tells us where you are today, and the plan is gonna tell us where we could be, where we’re gonna go.

Paul Martin: I’m gonna come back to the benefits side in a minute or two or right after the break. Before we do take a break, it just sorta dawned on me that basically what you’re saying this assessment helps a company figure out where their shortcomings are. But if I can step back even one step before that, you as a player in the insurance industry kind of came to the conclusion that the insurance industry needed an assessment. That you had to ultimately change the way you go about doing business. This is the outcome of it.

Colin Rooke: Excellent point because not only are we explaining to our clients and our prospects that we’re doing things different, we are going to the insurance market and saying we’re doing things different and you should be doing things different. You should be looking at risk holistically and saying … really kinda get your head out of the paper bag and look around you and say there’s not just one way of dealing with risk. Really the insurable risk is part of a greater whole and that there’s so many moving parts in a company that if we get the whole big picture, wouldn’t it make our decision making easier the more we know?

Colin Rooke: We’re going to these underwriters, and we’re teaching them how they should look at risk and how they should judge or determine the rates our clients are going to pay. It takes a lot of work, but we’ve made huge inroads and now when we’re dealing with underwriters they’ll ask, they’ll say, “Okay, what did you find? What did the assessment tell you?” We’ll share that. We’ve talked about percentage savings. We’ve talked about our ability to move clients from a company that normally wouldn’t write that certain class of business, but they’ve got very, very broad coverage to say we will take that because we’ve heard the story. But it’s something that you have to just experience for yourself.

In our assessment, you’ll learn so much more about risk. You’ll have conversations that you have not had before, and I guarantee there’ll be many Aha moments where we touch on something and the light’s gonna go on that we’ve hit a hot button and that’s what we’re gonna work on and that’s what we’re gonna share.

Paul Martin: You’re listening to our insurance expert, Colin Rooke, who is the Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist with Butler Byers Commercial Insurance. Colin, we’ve gotta take a little break. When we come back, I wanna dig back into your approach on the benefits sides of things. So we’ll just take a little break. Back after this.

Paul Martin: Welcome back to Risky Business. This is Paul Martin, as always, speaking with Colin Rooke, commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Buyers Commercial Insurance. Before the break, Colin, I said I wanted to dig back into your approach to the benefit sides of providing insurance coverage for things such as health and dental, and this kind of stuff. That’s a part of your business. When you look at it, I mean employees and the buzz words these days go from prevention rather than treatment, these kinds of things. Are these the sorts of words and conversations you’re having with employers?

Colin Rooke: Yeah, exactly. You mentioned one of the points that I wanted to make, that when it comes to looking at the benefit strategy, and we have this conversation all the time. In fact, one of the things we ask is, “Does the company have an actual benefit strategy?” What we want to know is their position on are we going to proactively get ahead of this, which that would involve a true strategy, working on health and wellness, or are we just going to have a model where we treat? The difference between being proactive versus paying to treat is staggering. Again, if there’s business owners out there that have paid some hefty benefits, renewal premiums, wouldn’t you want to look at that and say, “Okay, what am I doing wrong, or what are we doing wrong, and how can we get better?” How can we educate? How can we have discussions? Again, how can we change the organization, and what will that do to impact our ultimate costs of providing benefits?

You can use benefits to enhance the employee experience.

Colin Rooke: The other thing we talk about a lot is there’s the benefit strategy, but there’s also ways you can use benefits to enhance the employee experience. As part of a lot of our assessments, we talk about what does the organization do to retain key employees? That is often tied to benefits offering, or if you talk about a life product. There’s a lot of creative ways we can work with a company to say, “Look, we can tie this to a life product, but you can offer something now that will benefit that employee 15 years later.” What we do, and what’s different than most companies, is we say, “Have you talked to your key employees?”

Have you identified those key employees as key employees, and are you regularly having conversations? Are you saying, “Look, we want you around for the long haul.” What does staying with this company for 15 more years look like to you? We find that when we talk to management they know right away who the stars are, right away, the best salespeople, the best front of house.

Colin Rooke: It takes no time at all to identify those key players, but when we ask, “What have you done, and what conversations are you having with those key players, and have you identified, have you told those key players that they’re key players, key employees?”, the room gets quiet. Again, that’s where the strategy comes into place. That’s where the education is so important. Again, that’s the true value of having these conversations. Okay, now we’ve learned something. Now we’re going to share statistics that the difference between a key employee that knows they’re a key employee, and there’s a strategy in place to retain them, versus a key employee that’s never told they’re a key employee, the likelihood of that employee remaining long-term, and again there’s a lot of eye opening moments. One thing we say to every business owner that we’re having this discussion with is, “Your competitors also know who your key employees are.” If you don’t want your key employee to be your competitor’s key employee, have that conversation now, and then here’s the why. We wouldn’t know that, we wouldn’t be able to have that conversation without going through a risk assessment where we broaden the topics to include all risk. Again, losing a key employee is a significant risk to any business.

Paul Martin: Isn’t it interesting? We’re sitting here talking about buying benefits plans for employees, and in that same conversation we’re talking about how you retain key employees. These things are interwoven, aren’t they?

Colin Rooke: Exactly. For example, I mean, I say this lightheartedly, but if you have a benefits plan in place that favors long-term key stars, but you’re not having those conversations with that key employee, your rising star, then what’s the point if they just ultimately leave any way because they didn’t know how valuable they were? Again, it’s all about education and putting plans in place, and talking, benchmarking, again, saying, “This is what most organizations or the proactive…” This is their approach to retention, and sharing that knowledge, and working on it on an ongoing basis. Again, our job is to worry about risk, so our clients don’t have to. This is one of those topics that we worry about, we learn about it. We share with our clients. We have those conversations. If it’s an issue, we’re going to work together on solving it.

Paul Martin: One of the topics that’s getting a lot of attention in the marketplace these days just in the broader community is safety, mission zero, workplace home safety. That ultimately leads us to a conversation about worker’s compensation. Does that stuff all factor into this? Does workers comp experience play a role in this assessment that you’re doing?

Colin Rooke: Absolutely. When it comes to worker’s comp, for example, if you have a negative experience, it’s going to cost the company in additional penalties and premiums, which the companies that are in a penalty situation right now know that. A part of what we do again is helping our clients navigate the way out of that penalty situation, but we can’t help you if you won’t help yourself. Again, it’s having that conversation, talking about ways of improving the experience, ways of convincing workers comp and really again, ultimately, the insurance market that yes, there was a problem, or maybe a series of problems and yes, we’ve done things different. Here’s where we’re going to go with it.

Colin Rooke: We spend a lot of time talking about safety training. That changes all the time, and we find just even having a safety plan. Yes, a lot of companies will have a safety manual, but really what’s the plan around safety? How often are we discussing? How often are we reviewing? Just going over that alone can change a lot of the experience our clients have.

Paul Martin: Colin, just before we wind up, as always I want you to extend an invitation, I think, to our listeners that if they want to chat with you more, it’s fairly easy to get a hold of you.

Colin Rooke: Yeah. I love talking risk, just give Butler Buyers a call. Ask for me. We’ll have a conversation, and we’ll determine the next steps from there. As you’ve said, it’s a risk conversation. We’re looking for a fit. We’re looking for organizations that get it, that want to improve, that want to be better. That’s who we best partner with, and it’s initially just the conversation. From there, we’ll determine who should be in the assessment, and we’ll develop a plan after that.

Paul Martin: You’ve been listening to Colin Rooke, the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Buyers Commercial Insurance. My name is Paul Martin. You’re listening to Risky Business, commercial insurance with Butler Buyers. Talk to you next time.