Benefits Managers administer a company’s employee benefits program, notably its health insurance and retirement plans. Expertise in designing, negotiating, and administering benefits programs continues to take on importance as employer-provided benefits account for a growing proportion of overall compensation costs, and as benefit plans increase in number and complexity. For example, benefits might include defined benefit pension plans, defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) or thrift savings plans and profit-sharing or stock ownership plans. Health benefits might include medical, dental, and vision insurance and protection against catastrophic illness.
Familiarity with health benefits is a top priority for employee benefits managers and specialists, because of the rising cost of providing healthcare benefits to employees and retirees. In addition to health insurance and retirement coverage, many firms offer employees life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, disability insurance, and benefits designed to meet the needs of a changing workforce, such as parental leave, long-term nursing or home care insurance, wellness programs, and flexible benefits plans.
Benefits managers must keep abreast of changing Federal and State regulations and legislation that may affect employee benefits. Working with employee assistance plan managers or work-life coordinators, many benefits managers work to integrate the growing number of programs that deal with mental and physical health, such as employee assistance, obesity, and smoking cessation, into their health benefits programs.