The work of benefits administration often goes unappreciated, but it is vital to a company's functioning. The people in this department handle all benefits, including vacation, education, and insurance, and they deal with employee concerns.
Benefits administrators in human resources departments help employees understand the time off policies of the employers. Time off from work may fall into a few categories. Most employers have vacation for full-time employees, and this vacation time accrues according to whatever policy the company has in place. Many employers also have paid time off, or personal time, which employees may take when needed. Sick time may be a separate type of time off, or it may be combined with the others.
Someone in benefits administration can cover all the types of time off and the ways you use this time. For some companies, significant advance notice is needed, particularly for vacation time. For other companies, taking time off may require filling out paperwork. Benefits administration personnel will help with these issues and guide employees through the process of understanding the company's policies. Instead of an adversarial relationship, a good benefits administration employee will work to create a cooperative arrangement with employees to help the company work more smoothly.
The benefits administration department or employee should know more than anyone in the company about time off and other attendance issues. This person should be considered the go-to person for any questions regarding these issues. Benefits administration also typically makes changes or questions employees about the viability of the current system.
A primary job in benefits administration is reviewing harassment claims. Though these claims seem simple, the investigations often require hours of research and interviews. A harassment claim begins when an employee brings up a complaint to someone in benefits administration. This person then will get the employee's version of the story and will speak to any other principals involved.
The role of the benefits administrator is not just to get stories, but also to determine whether the issue does indeed break anti-harassment laws. Sexual harassment is the first thought most people consider when thinking about harassment. Certainly, these claims are a large portion of the claims benefits administration receives. Other complaints fall into this category as well, however. Benefits administration deals with discrimination claims based on hiring, firing, and promoting. Employees may claim others received preferential treatment, or that a boss will not leave an employee alone to do his or her job well.
All harassment claims at work go through benefits administration. The personnel in this department must have a clear understanding of the laws involved when it comes to sexual harassment, as well as harassment based on gender, race, or other protected statuses. In many states, conditions such as pregnancy and breastfeeding also are becoming more protected, and benefits administrators need to be aware of these laws, as well.
People working in benefits administration often put together documents to assist new employees. Most employees will encounter the most basic of these documents in the orientation period of his or her employment. This orientation period may include receiving a policy and procedures manual, which is a tool employees can use to answer their most basic questions.
Often, someone in benefits administration puts together pamphlets or brochures on important information, especially if it is of a sensitive nature. For example, benefits administration personnel may compile information about sexual harassment claims, including current laws and the company's policies for dealing with such issues. This information will be made available to employees.
Because companies often put this information together in-house, it is accurate in that it comes from an official voice within the company. The benefits administration workers are the people who will deal with these important issues if they arise, and their knowledge being put into documents you can take home with you is a valuable addition to the human resources department. Should these documents be available to employees, they should be made available also to anyone who needs them and perhaps even anonymously.
Less sensitive information, such as how education reimbursement works, can be the subject of benefits administration documents, as well. Employees will want to refer back to these documents frequently.
Although benefits administration personnel deal with some of the lighter side of employment, such as working out arrangements for vacation for employees, they also must deal with the less appealing side of human resources management. People in benefits administration are the people who handle problems employees are having at work.
Working in the benefits administration office means knowing how to deal with people who are having concerns about the work environment. Each company should have strict and set policies about how employees will report any issues. Some companies may permit anonymous reports; others direct everyone to one central person in benefits administration. Regardless of the way benefits administration requires employees to report problems, however, the employee should be educated well on this policy.
The employee should feel comfortable speaking to someone in benefits administration about the concerns he or she has. The employees in this department should be understanding and not judgmental. The goal of benefits administration is to determine if there is a problem. If there is, then the personnel will interview everyone and take the appropriate steps. Making sure to give accurate information and to report problems in a timely manner is one of the ways employees can assist in the process. Following the guidelines set out in the employee handbook makes the situation go much more smoothly.
Many companies offer education reimbursement. This benefit is not as common as health insurance or vacation pay, but it is one that allows some companies to stand out as an excellent employer. The personnel in the benefits administration department are the ones who will handle issues related to education reimbursement. Should an employee consider going back to school and looking for assistance from the company, that employee's first stop should be benefits administration.
The benefits administration department employees should be able to tell the employee what the policy is regarding educational reimbursement. This personnel member should explain whether all courses are included in the reimbursements, or only ones related to the person's job. In this case, the employee should be advised about the need for any paperwork to be completed, or other issues that need to be take care of related to making sure reimbursement happens.
The benefits administrator should know how quickly the employee will be reimbursed. Some employers have systems set up with local colleges and may be able to make payments directly to the college. In other cases, the employee may be required to pay the bill upfront and then get reimbursed later. Explaining these issues is one of the ways a benefits administration worker can make sure the employee understands the policies and makes the right decision.
A few companies will hire someone to work in benefits administration without a college degree. These companies typically hire people they believe are good candidates for the type of work required for benefits administration. This work requires someone who is good with detail and has excellent communication skills. Being able to deal with people's concerns over various company policies demands benefits administration personnel have a sense of empathy for fellow workers.
Most companies simply hire someone with a degree to help make sure they are getting someone who is familiar with the basic operations in the benefits administration office. This employee likely has a degree in human resources or communication. Many people also will hire people with liberal arts degrees, including sociology, history, or language. The general belief in these degrees is that they teach analytical thinking skills, and benefits administration work depends heavily on the independent thinking skills of the employees.
Some people who work in benefits administration have advanced degrees. These degrees typically are Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees, and the person may have an emphasis in benefits administration or human resources management. Another common graduate field is social work, since much of what people in benefits administration do is related to dealing with people in the same way social workers must do on a daily basis.
In many companies, the people who work in benefits administration, or human resources, will make periodic presentations to the employees as a large group. Many employees want to opt out of these meetings because they believe the meetings are a waste of time. The work done in benefits administration is some of the most important in most companies, however, and employees should be willing to hear what benefits administration personnel will have to say.
These meetings typically address changes to the company's policy regarding the benefits employees will receive. At times, these benefits changes are small. Perhaps the company has a new policy for employee rewards, or will be changing attendance policies. These kinds of procedural questions are ones that could cause benefits administration personnel a great deal of headache if not handled well. Holding a benefits administration meeting to address these concerns is one way to get all the questions out of the way at one time.
Other times, people in benefits administration will hold a meeting for much greater issues. These issues may include the amount of time an employee will be permitted to take off in a given year, or the insurance policy employees have. These types of meetings can have significant consequences for employees, making paying attention to them vital to the employee's work life.
Benefits administration deals with the company's insurance policies. In this capacity, the people in the benefits administration office handle a number of important scenarios. First, they help people know when they are qualified to get company insurance. This point may come immediately upon hire, or may require a probationary period. People also can enroll for insurance during any open enrollment periods, which the benefits administrator determines, and after any life changes, such as marriage or the birth of a child. The benefits administrator will be able to handle these issues.
People in benefits administration also help employees know what their insurance coverage is. While official answers come from the insurance company, benefits administrators are well versed in what is accepted under the insurance policy. In this way, the people in benefits administration can offer advice to employees about insurance problems and can advise them about where to go for official answers.
Finally, the benefits administration office negotiates with the insurance company for the coverage and cost the employees will have to pay for coverage. Because the company covers much or all the premiums for insurance, the benefits administrator has a vested interest in getting the best deal possible. This person will haggle over deductibles, co-pays, and other issues as needed. The benefits administrator is working to get the best coverage.
The final major area of the benefits administration office is payroll. Employees will see the fruits of this work on a weekly or monthly basis when they receive their pay for work done. While few employees consider how this process works, the people in benefits administration are aware of any and all changes to employee pay.
Someone in benefits administration likely compiles a listing of competitive salaries for each position within the company. The benefits administrator negotiates pay when someone is hired based on these numbers. Changes to pay come from these negotiations as well, which is why it helps employees to know how benefits administration works in their company.
Benefits administration workers also deal with disputes about pay. Some employees may have concerns about how much they are being paid, or may want to have the company consider paying more because they have reached a higher level of education or professional certification. These issues are ones to take up with benefits administration personnel.
The people in this office may seem to be concerned only for the company's well-being, but they are there for the employees, as well. Happy and well-paid employees are beneficial to the company's operations, and the benefits administration office is the place within a company where the decisions are made regarding these and many other issues.