Employers, now more than ever, need the guidance of their benefit advisers to walk them through managing Affordable Care Act regulations, but natural shifts in the workforce demographic are keeping talent acquisition and retention at the top of the list as well. To assist in these endeavors, Courtney Simpkiss, vice president of broker channel strategy at ADP, and Carrie Barth, consultant for HR technology outsourcing at Lockton Companies, held a seminar on the subject at EBA’s recent Workplace Benefits Summit in Nashville, Tenn.

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“We stand in a situation where our clients still have a lot of questions and we are still four or five years into this evolution of healthcare,” Simpkiss said.

Lockton’s Carrie Barth speaks at EBA's Workplace Benefits Summit
Cort Olsen/EBA

Just in the last couple of months Simpkiss has had large-group clients continue to delay filing and documenting data on their employees because they expect they might receive another delay in enforcement from the federal government. However, the time to plan is now, and Barth said advisers and consultants are also adapting to the changing environment in HR and benefits administration.

A changing environment
“When it comes to clients and what employers should expect, I look at things from an HR technology perspective as it relates to ACA, payroll, HR, ben admin, all of those different areas that impact employers. More and more companies expect their brokers and consultants to do a heck of a lot more than what they used to years ago,” Barth said. “I’ve been in this business for close to 15 years and on a daily basis our folks are seeing on RFPs questions, not just about benefits, but the technology, what solutions you as a broker bring to them and how you plan to support them.”

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Because of the decrease in unemployment and the transition of retiring employees to newer and younger employees, employers need to move through ACA compliance quickly and efficiently in order to focus on bigger issues, Barth and Simpkiss said. Some of those issues that advisers can help them address include strategizing about how to replace an entire generation of retiring workers while being on the lookout for talent poaching from competing companies.

In the process, Barth and Simpkiss said, advisers will need to help clients increase incentives to attract talent and rethink pay, benefits and workplace policy issues. For example, any savings an employer finds from inexpensive health coverage may be lost through employee turnover and the costs associated with recruiting and training new workers.

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