Benefit Professionals – Answering “Have You Heard About…” Questions
As an employee benefit pro you should get use to answering a lot of questions. Everyday your knowledge of your organization’s benefits program as well as health, life, and disability insurance and retirement plans in general is tested. Your ability to answer questions correctly and quickly will determine your reputation with employees and management.
The Difference Between Employee and Employer Questions
In general, employee questions are more “me-centric and top management questions are more global or “we-centric.” An employee may ask if the plan covers a particular medical service. Top management may ask about the cost to cover a specific benefit.
But one question that comes up from time to time by both groups is the, “have you heard about…” question. Sometimes this question is accompanied by a copy of a newspaper or magazine article or a link to a website. At other times, there is no particular reference, just a question. And the more you can answer “yes” to the “have you heard about” questions, the better your credibility and vice versa.
Responding to “Have You Heard About…” Questions
You cannot be an expert in all areas of employee benefits, but you do want to have a broad knowledge of the field. Take every opportunity to learn and be prepared to answer question outside of your day-to-day responsibilities. The less you have to say, “so and so takes care of that, I only work with (fill in the blank),” the better. Also, so and so may not always be available to help answer questions. This is your time to shine and enhance your credibility.
Assuming you are staying on top of employee benefit trends and legislation, consider creating a formula for dealing with “have you heard about” questions.
- Treat all “have you heard about” questions with respect. It does not matter if the question comes from an employee or top management; give it the same level of consideration. Every “have you heard about” question is an opportunity to learn or share your knowledge. Be grateful for the opportunity.
- Anticipate questions and prepare a response. If you are staying on top of employee benefit trends, you can probably anticipate most of the questions you will get. If you do your research, you can prepare your responses in advance. People will know that you are staying on top of the latest news and laws and thinking about how it may impact the company’s current benefits program.
- Ask Your Own “Have You Heard About” Questions. Who said that you should wait for someone else to ask questions? Ask your own questions. One way to do this is to prepare a short write-up about why this issue is important and your proposal for addressing or implementing it. When asking your own “have you heard about” questions, make sure you have an expert command of the information. Anticipate all follow-up questions.
It goes without saying that you should stay on top of employee benefit trends and legislation. It also goes without saying that both employees and top management will ask what you know about these issues. Be prepared to answer and ask your own “have you heard about” questions. Your ability to answer these questions with confidence and authority is what makes you a true employee benefit professional.