Human Resources

Benefits: Consider the ‘Human’ in Human Capital

Too often, managing staff benefits is more about managing costs than helping employees.

July 14, 2011
KEYWORDS benefits , capital , human
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The evolution of modern-day employee benefits occurred not all that long ago when the first employer chose to provide health insurance coverage to employees to differentiate itself to attract and retain a greater level of “human capital.”

Unfortunately, managing employee benefits today isn’t about managing human capital; it’s about managing costs—ultimately, insurance negotiations.

The good news is, by simply considering the “human” in human capital, your solution becomes much simpler. The new concept of human capital management, as it’s known in the employee benefits arena, acknowledges that employees aren’t all the same. This forces employers to provide them with choices.

These aren’t the kind of choices, say, between a $1,000 and $2,000 deductible, or between a health maintenance organization and a preferred provider organization. Rather, they’re the kind of choices that allow employees to understand the difference between an individual investing in his or her future and basic, necessary coverage.

You can demonstrate this commitment to employees by implementing a good voluntary benefits offering, coupled with clear communications that articulate the personal benefit. These efforts will help your credit union attract and retain talent, which directly impacts your bottom line.

Proper implementation and administration of the plans is another key component of human capital management.

Arguably, managing payroll is the most crucial component to managing human capital. Other areas such as benefits, retirement plans, and workers’ compensation require data from your payroll management administration system.

To create efficiencies and maximize the value of this data, you’ll want to look for a partner or broker that provides a more holistic approach to managing your human capital.

You might think this sounds great—but it must be expensive. Actually, not so.

This type of bundled solution may help you save money on human capital expenditures. If you choose a broker offering an integrated solution, you’ll find them offsetting some of your human capital management costs via the compensation they receive for the insurances your credit union buys through them.

The health insurance market is changing rapidly. Payroll providers and human resource administration system vendors are entering the insurance space, and health-care reform now requires compensation transparency.

Credit unions are left to decipher a solution that meets all of their needs. A gold star broker should transition to a human capital management solution and look at your situation holistically—not simply shopping for suitable insurance coverage for you and your employees.

So the next time you think about your employee benefits or health insurance renewal and the high increases you’ve experienced, think about it from a human capital management perspective.

The partner you choose should ask questions such as:

  • How do you manage payroll or what payroll vendor do you use?
  • How do you manage the data required to support all you do?
  • How do you free up time from administrative requirements?
  • How engaged are your employees when they make their choices?
  • Did you know a one-on-one advisory solution to communicating your benefits is the easiest way to increase employee morale?

DAVID MARTIN is director of employee benefits for CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, Wis. Contact him at 800-356-2644, ext. 7259.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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