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In recent years companies both large and small have seen a shift in what was traditionally thought of human resource responsibilities from a department within the companies to the employees themselves. While many people see allowing individual employees to be more informed and giving them more of the responsibility for their individual care as a positive effect, this trend is not without its downsides. The trend sets the stage for employees who do have an issue with a particular benefit plan wondering where they should go to get the issue resolved, and oftentimes this cannot even be answered by the administrator of that benefit or the human resource department of their company.

The shifting of focus from company mandated benefits packages has allowed the people in the workforce more options for healthcare, 401K benefits, life insurance and other benefit options. For instance, one large company that I work with had always offered traditional health insurance coverage for their employees including a preferred provider network and co-pays for health care. This company now offers employees their choice of three plans, only one of which is a traditional PPO network plan. The other two plans offer Health Savings Accounts, which can build money over the years to allow employees to build a nest egg for future medical care. However, the shift in responsibility came about when they offered these new plans, they also began a “Wellness” program. Requiring employees who smoked to pay higher premiums, requiring all employees and enrolled dependents to have yearly physicals, and requiring all long-term medications to be ordered through a mail order pharmacy. Hence, they placed the burden of controlling medical costs squarely onto the shoulders of their employees, but gave them more options for controlling those costs.

Another instance of the shift in the responsibilities of the human resource plan can be seen in enrolling for company provided benefits. Many companies now require individual employees to log in to a benefits terminal during an open enrollment period and sign up for the benefits that they want. This is definitely a change from the days when you went to work somewhere, and about once a year the human resources department would send you out a form to check off the benefits you wanted. You turned the form back in, and that was the last that you heard about it until your new benefits cards arrived. The problem that is often seen with many companies giving employees the responsibility of enrolling in their own coverage is that many older employees are not computer literate enough to do this on their own, and even many that are computer literate have trouble navigating through the enrollment process by themselves. It also brings to mind the question of where employees should go if they have problems with a particular benefit. If they have enrolled themselves are they responsible for sorting out any problem that may arise? An account can be created at online sites through the person. For the human resource, the person can take the software trial here for the benefit of the business organization. 

As the shift continues in industries from traditional human resource managed benefits to more employee directed benefit options, one is sure to see a profound effect on the way these benefits are managed. As of right now, it waits to be seen whether the overall effect will be positive or negative. I guess that will honestly depend on the managerial skills of the individual in question, undoubtedly some will make the most of their new benefits and have better results than ever. But, it makes you wonder what will happen to the ones that cannot navigate the waters in the ever expanding ocean of benefits management that once were controlled by human resource managers, but now seem to be dotted with only individual employees trying to find their way.

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