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Author:

Eric Krieg

Eric Krieg

Eric Krieg is an industry disruptor with 30 years of experience in employee benefits brokerage and consulting. He informs employers and the media on how the employee benefits industry really operates. Krieg has served on national advisory boards for Aetna, United HealthCare, CIGNA and Guardian, as well as regional groups for Anthem, Kaiser Permanente and Medical Mutual. He began his career at Aetna and later served as senior vice president and group benefits business leader for one of the nation’s largest independent insurance brokerage and risk management firms. In 2014, Krieg launched the industry’s first benefits advisory services practice of its kind at Risk International, an independent risk and benefits management firm. Skilled in TCOR (total cost of risk) methodologies, he advises employers on LEAN benefits management techniques. Since 2011, Krieg has presented at conferences, seminars and webinars on various topics, including the ACA, wellness and health exchanges/marketplaces. A graduate of the University of Toledo, his professional designations include GBA, ChFC and CLU.

Eric Krieg

You most likely know benefits managers have an important responsibility to make decisions regarding company health, dental, prescription drugs, disability and life insurance on behalf of entire organizations.

Titles for these professionals can range from the senior vice president of human resources to the benefits manager to a number of titles in between.

Yet, even with the important titles many benefits managers carry, the vast majority are not prepared or incented to maximize financial opportunities for their company.

Furthermore, as benefits managers consider a change that will make a meaningful financial impact they worry about the few disgruntled employees that might make waves. In other words, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

As you can see, the role of the benefits manager can be a complicated one which oftentimes leads these middlemen and middlewomen to feel that their hands are tied when making decisions that can have a major impact for the company and its employees.

As I see it, most benefits managers are on an island. Let me explain, first any change in benefits may create more work. Secondly, heaven forbid a few employees don’t agree with the change. Lastly, support and understanding from the executive team is inadequate when they learn about some level of potential employee dissatisfaction.

Consequently, if benefits managers implement changes which cause them to have more work and no reward, why  take a risk with new concepts that might serve employees better and save the company money?

To put it bluntly, why would a benefits manager take a risk that would require more work, get them beat up by the vocal few, receive no positive recognition, and no meaningful compensation?

Incentivizing Employee Benefits Managers Makes Business Sense
Company executives need to revisit the way benefits managers are rewarded. Benefits managers should be incentivized in ways that mimic other parts of the business. Why? Because the opportunity for making an impact on the bottom line typically ranks second only to payroll.

For example, if a benefits manager is creating value by saving the company money, then they should be rewarded in the same manner as their peers in other parts of the company through additional financial compensation, recognition and opportunities for advancement.

The Straight Talk: Benefits managers need and deserve financial incentives along with executive support and buy-in to improve their benefits plan’s performance. If they are properly incentivized, company outcomes improve.

Stay tuned for part 2 of “Benefits Managers are Set Up for Failure” where benefits disruptor and expert Eric Krieg tells you how and why benefits managers often manage to the outliers.