Everyone can understand health insurance and health care better.

About The Book

Not every job has an apprenticeship or other training program for entry-level professionals. And unless you are in a profession with a clearly defined skill set, learning how to do your job can be a very loose process. Learning on the job, from colleagues or from your own mistakes is de facto corporate training at most organizations. Employee benefit professionals that want to perform at the highest level, have to fill in the gaps of this relaxed training approach.
Becoming an
Employee Benefits Know It All requires dedication to continuous learning. Learning new employee benefit concepts. Learning to communicate efficiently and effectively. Learning to use technology. Learning to problem solve in a world of grays. And learning to challenge the status quo...
The Guide To Becoming An Employee Benefits Know It All is chock full of advice, anecdotes and over 130 resources to enhance the knowledge and credibility of new and mid-level benefit pros.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Welcome To The World of Employee Benefits
  • How To Learn About Employee Benefits
  • Communication - Some Skills Matter More Than Others
  • Thinking Inside The Technology Box
  • What To Do With What You Know
  • Interpersonal Relationships At Work - I Like And Respect You
  • Upping Your Game and Enhancing Your Credibility
  • Leave Management - The Toughest Employee Benefit Function
  • Finding Your Place In The HR Department
Chapters, cont.
  • One Step Forward, Two Steps Back - Feeling Overwhelmed
  • The Stage Is Yours Benefit Pros
  • Claims, Claims, Everywhere There’s Claims
  • Conclusion
  • Resources
Professional Resources:
Employee Benefits Surveys
Employee Benefit Associations
Government Employee Benefit Resources
Professional Certifications And Designations
More Employee Benefit Resources (Free stuff!)

The Book - Chapter Summaries


After reading this Guide you will learn…

  • How to gain basic employee benefit knowledge quickly
  • What skills every Benefits Know It All must master
  • How to deal with challenging employee benefit issues and people
  • How to obtain credibility and respect
  • Why it is important to question the status quo

Chapter 1: Welcome To The World Of Employee Benefits

Some employee benefit jobs only allow you to work with health and welfare plans; some compensation programs or retirement plans only. Trying to learn other functions outside of your job description may be very difficult.

It’s up to you to decide if you want to be a benefit generalist or specialist. Just know that you may have to convince others to let you in on assignments outside of your
regular job duties. And, you may have to engage in some job-hopping to do what you want. There are advantages and disadvantages to either approach.

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 2: How To Learn About Employee Benefits (Read, Listen, Ask Questions, Take A Class, Repeat)

Read: Sorting through the avalanche of benefit information—use only reputable sources.
Listen: We can all be better listeners; it’s just so hard. Seek out opportunities to listen to knowledgeable people in the field.
Ask Questions: A mistake many benefit professionals make is to make assumptions because they don’t want to ask questions.
Take A Class: Not all employee benefit certifications are created equal.

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 3: Communication – Some Skills Matter More Than Others

You don’t get to say that you are an excellent communicator, other people do. And not everyone will evaluate your communication skills the same.

The heart of good communication skills is the ability to explain an issue in a way that others can understand.
  • Basic Ways To Improve Your Written Communication Skills
  • Basic Ways To Improve Your Verbal Communication Skills

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 4: Thinking Inside The Technology Box

Stop claiming you have good computer skills because you spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and text all day. You need to be proficient in basic, but often-used computer software programs. These are the minimum computer skills you need. In addition to basic computer program skills, benefit pros must master using human resource specific systems (e.g., HRIS and HRMS systems).

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 5: What To Do With What You Know

As an employee benefits pro, it is important to create and maintain checklists and procedures and document your work.

A top-notch employee benefits pro evaluates every situation she encounters instead of treating them all the same, but that does not mean that consistency goes out the window. Benefit decisions are often subject to legal scrutiny and pros will have to justify their work—that's why creating checklists, procedures and documenting your work is mandatory.

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 6: Interpersonal Relationships At Work – I Like And Respect You

Not all workplace relationships are challenging, but some are. As an employee benefits pro, you will deal with your share (or more) of challenging personalities. You will work with external third party vendors and other service providers who work as actuaries, record keepers, lawyers, brokers, etc. But you will also have many internal colleagues that collaborate with you daily or occasionally, like other HR pros, Payroll, Finance, IT, Marketing and Safety and Wellness department staff. Know the signs of a difficult relationship and how to address them.

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 7: Upping Your Game and Enhancing Your Credibility

You can be a lightweight employee benefits pro with a little knowledge and little understanding of benefit plans, or you can be an Employee Benefits Know It All. If you are committed to the latter, it is important to know about Social Security, Medicare and federal and state disability programs. Know It All's stay up to date on the latest employee benefits legislation and anticipate questions workers may have about benefits outside of the workplace; they also know how to respect other's privacy. Credibility is everything.

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 8: Leave Management – The Toughest Employee Benefit Function

Effective communication may be the most important skill for employee benefits pro, but if you want to know the most difficult function these pro often perform, look no further than leave management duties. Between the laws and regulations and the emotions, an Employee Benefits Know It All may require some leave time of her own. Know the challenges and how to address them.

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 9: Finding Your Place In The HR Department

Not every human resources (HR) professional enjoys administering employee benefit plans, and not every HR department recognizes the work of employee benefit professionals. Human Resource managers and generalists get most of the attention in many HR departments, but you can shine with the best of them. Don't let others pigeonhole you as the egghead who shows up once a year for open enrollment, learn how to get attention year round.

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 10: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – Feeling Overwhelmed

It's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day administration of employee benefit plans. That, along with new laws and regulations can overwhelm even the most seasoned employee benefits pro. But there is a simple formula for addressing issues before they become a burden. Having written procedures and checklists can help, but so does copying, studying and improving on what was done before. Asking for help is another way to keep things moving in the right direction.

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 11: The Stage Is Yours Benefit Pros

Employee benefits are the reasons many people choose one job over another. You have the potential of having a positive impact on many lives. So, when the opportunity comes to show everyone what you are made of, don't blow it. Go all out like everything is at stake; because it is. Will you use your stage to
act your way through a role, or will you use it to help others make good benefit plan decisions?

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |
Chapter 12: Claims, Claims, Everywhere There's Claims

What's a book about employee benefits, without a chapter on health plan claims? Besides, I didn't want to end a book that deals with plans that offer financial protection at Chapter 11. Get it?

Addressing health insurance claims issues (euphemism for unpaid medical bills) is a big time sucker for many workplace employee benefit departments. Knowledge about what you benefit plans cover may help decipher an EOB, but how do you deal with the emotions of the insured. Learn what to expect when offering assistance with claim disputes and be clear about your role in resolving them.

              Denise Perkins, CEBS  |   BenefitsAll LLC    |

Resources &
Bonus Documents

About The Author

Denise Perkins, CEBS. Denise has over 15 years of experience working in employee benefits management in the private and non-private business sectors. During her career, she worked as a Personnel and Risk Manager for municipal government, a Human Resources Retirement Plan Administrator for a private school with a multi-billion dollar endowment, and as a Senior Benefits Administrator/Benefits Manager for several private sector organizations. This experience has allowed her to work with benefit plans uniquely designed for private sector, nonprofit, and government employees. Denise holds the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) designation. Co-sponsored by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the CEBS designation is one of the most respected professional credentials in the employee benefits field. She has a Master's degree in Public Administration and Bachelor's degree in Business Management from Penn State University.

Denise created the BenefitsAll blog to increase understanding of health insurance and health care policy. She wrote, The Guide To Becoming An Employee Benefits Know It All, for workplace employee benefit professionals charged with explaining health insurance to workers. The Guide includes advice, anecdotes and resources to enhance the knowledge of new and developing employee benefit professionals and challenges them to question the health insurance status quo.