WEEK1


Benefit Plans (graded)

Employer-sponsored benefits reflect the culture and business of the organization, and plans should be crafted and selected accordingly. Think about your current (or former) organization's benefit plan. Did it help to improve the quality of your work, as well as your personal life? Why or why not? Was it a generous benefits program or were there specific benefits you felt should have been included?



Benefit Planning Process (graded)

As part of conducting a benefit plan needs assessment, a human resource professional must consider the organization’s business strategy, as well as its compensation philosophy. What do you think is the next step that should be taken? What are some of the possible outcomes of a benefit plan needs assessment?






WEEK 2



Role of Government (graded)

Other than the mandates of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and a few other ineffectual reporting and disclosure requirements, benefit programs were practically unregulated by the federal government before the major shift that came with the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, which was primarily aimed at traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans but applicable to other employer-sponsored retirement and benefit programs. What is the government’s current role in regulating the administration of employee benefits? Do you think there is too little or too much government intervention? Why?













WEEK 3




Healthcare Cost Management(graded)

Many Americans benefit from the investments in healthcare; however, the recent cost growth, coupled with the economic downturn and rising national deficit, has placed a great strain on the financial systems used to finance healthcare, including private employer-sponsored health insurance coverage and public insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. What is the responsibility of individuals for the cost of their care? Are health savings accounts and high-deductible insurance policies an approach that should be expanded? What are the concerns for low-income individuals?









Consumer-Driven Healthcare (graded)

Consumer-driven healthcare has become popular over the past few years as employees seek tax advantages and cost savings on healthcare. What are some of the key features of a consumer-driven healthcare plan? Does your company currently offer any of these plans? If so, are you taking advantage of them? Why or why not?














WEEK 4


Life Insurance Plans (graded)

A major concern for most employees is caring for their families in the event of the employee’s death. Many employers provide life insurance for employees. Does your organization offer a group insurance policy? If so, what is the basic plan design of your organization’s life insurance policy, and for how much are you covered? How do you value this benefit in relation to the entire benefit package and why?



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Disability Plans (graded)

In addition to replacing household income when an employee either retires or is no longer working, he or she may also carry some type of income-replacement plan in the event they become disabled. Does your current (or former) employer offer disability coverage for employees? What are the specifics of your coverage? Do you feel the need to purchase supplemental disability insurance? Why or why not? How do you value this benefit in relation to the entire benefit package and why?















WEEK 5



Rules and Regulations (graded)

Discuss some of the legislation that helps to manage retirement plans. What are some examples of laws that have been put into place to protect employees? What are these laws purposed to do?





Retirement Plans (graded)

Why should an organization consider implementing a company-sponsored retirement plan for its employees? What would be some of the available options in choosing the right plan? Do you think employees would favor a specific plan? If so, which plan would they favor?














WEEK 6






Paid Time Off (graded)

Some employers combine all paid time off, such as vacation, sick leave, holidays, and personal days, into one large bank of time, typically called paid time off (PTO). Discuss your organization’s current paid leave program. Does your organization have a PTO bank or several categories of leave accrual? What do you think would be the pros and cons of a PTO bank versus a traditional leave plan, including sick time and vacation?



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Work-Life Benefits (graded)

What are some of the flexibilities your organization allows to assist employees with achieving a good balance between work and life responsibilities? Do you think more can be done? If so, describe your perspective on what specific work-life benefits you would like to see implemented and how they would be beneficial to employees and the company.










WEEK 7




Benefits Communication (graded)

Does your current (or previous) organization have a strategy in place to communicate its benefits plan to employees? If so, how effective is it, and what can be done to improve it? If not, what are your thoughts on putting a benefits communication plan in place? Would it be beneficial?












Benefits Administration and Cost Controls (graded)

Insurance providers and employers alike are searching for techniques and strategies to help control their benefits costs. Has your organization been able to find ways to improve your benefits program or add new benefits without adding a heavy cost burden to your department or your employees? Will your organization’s budget for employee benefits be growing, staying the same, or potentially shrinking over the coming year?