When you go on vacation and still get paid or your insurance pays for a hospital stay or you invest money that the company matches in a 401(k) plan, you're taking advantage of company-provided employee benefits. In 2010, companies in the United States spent an additional 30 percent of their total compensation costs on benefits such as paid time off, retirement and savings plans, health, life and disability insurance and tuition reimbursement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. (Reference 4) When a company offers employee benefits, it needs people to evaluate what's offered to employees, communicate the plans, enroll employees, process forms and resolve issues with vendors. These are the responsibilities of an employee benefits analyst.
Orientation and Education
When you start a new job, a benefits analyst gives you an overview of the benefits you're eligible for and explains the different choices you have to make. For example, you may have to choose between several different health insurance plans that have different costs based on your deductible or how much you pay each time you go to the doctor. A benefits analyst helps you fill out the proper forms and tells you about the deadlines for turning in your paperwork.
You usually have to pay a portion of the cost of some benefits, such as health insurance. You may also have money deducted from your pay check, before taxes are taken out, to invest in a retirement savings account. Benefits analysts make sure that your benefit elections get entered into the company's human resource system and that the right amount of money is deducted from your pay check each month. If you have problems with a claim, a benefits analyst often helps you resolve the issue. It's nice to know that one of a benefits analyst's responsibilities is to keep your information confidential, because they often learn private things about you and what's happening in your life.
Benchmarking and Analysis
When you compare job offers, you probably look at both pay and benefits. Benefits analysts do research to make sure the benefits a company offers are competitive with what other companies offer. At work, you might fill out an employee satisfaction survey and answer questions about how happy you are with your job, your supervisor, your pay and your benefits. A benefits analyst reviews the survey results and suggests changes to the benefits the company offers based on what employees want to have. If only a few employees use a particular benefit, she might recommend doing away with it altogether.
Once a year, usually in the fall, all employees get to review their benefit choices and make changes during a process called "open enrollment." Otherwise, once you pick your benefits, you can't change them unless something happens in your life that necessitates a change, like getting married or having a child. Benefits analysts spend a great deal of time managing the open enrollment process. They work with vendors to roll out special software, create games and contests to publicize and promote the programs and make sure employees know what happens if they don't do anything at all. Benefits analysts answer questions from employees who all have questions about their benefits at the same time.
Steve McDonnell's experience running businesses and launching companies complements his technical expertise in information, technology and human resources. He earned a degree in computer science from Dartmouth College, served on the WorldatWork editorial board, blogged for the Spotfire Business Intelligence blog and has published books and book chapters for International Human Resource Information Management and Westlaw.