Best Benefits for Higher Education
September 18, 2019 | Eamonn Brady, Vice President of Employer Solutions (Northeast)
Colleges and universities face some unique challenges when it comes to staffing. The structure covers employees who range from student workers to tenured faculty, so there’s a whirlwind of turnover at some levels and solid stability at others.
Additionally, some employees work year-round while others only work 10 months, which can throw a wrench into benefits implementation. Many institutions of higher education also face unique budgeting challenges.
So how can you set up a benefits structure that works for everyone?
At Winston we’re always ready for a challenge. Here are three solutions to the most common pain points of benefits administration in higher education.
Work with a Provider That Understands Your Employees’ Needs
The easiest way to ease benefits administration is to work with providers that understand your employee population’s unique needs. Because employees work such varied schedules, it behooves the administration to partner with providers that offer flexible benefits options.
The administrative rules of higher education are specific to that industry, and trying to replicate an ordinary benefits structure simply won’t provide the benefits structure that meets your employees’ unique needs. When it comes to benefits across industries, one size does not fit all. Working with a provider that understands the challenges of the higher education setting and structure is crucial to finding the right options for all of your employees.
Offer Flexible Health Benefits
Just because some employees don’t work year-round doesn’t mean they can’t receive premium-quality health benefits. In fact, offering special packages for both 10- and 12-month employees will set you apart as an employer that understands the needs of your employees.
But because some employees only work 10 months while others work year-round, offering health benefits can be a little tricky. However, it can absolutely be done. Having benefits administration and carrier partners that can handle the complex administrative rules and configurations of higher education employers helps institutions offer benefits in a way that meets employees’ diverse needs. For example, funding a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA) throughout the school year, as opposed to year-round, for your 10-month employees can help manage those costs while still giving them access to the care they need.
Stand Out with Comprehensive Benefits
Employees in higher education typically answer the call to service because they believe in the mission and utility of the institution, not because they’re looking for a huge salary. Funding at colleges and universities is often tricky, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer spectacular benefits — just that you have to be budget-conscious.
Higher education employers need to recruit more than just professors. Offering an attractive and targeted benefits package can attract everyone from administration to finance to educators. For example, many higher education employees may have significant student-loan debt or need assistance with travel expenses for conferences. Consider offering benefits that can offset these types of expenses that are specific to the needs of your employee population.