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Employee Research Institute:
Keeping the Focus on Core Employee Benefits



Dallas Salisbury, a speaker at the marcus evans Mid-Market Corporate Benefits Summit 2011, on focusing on the benefits that matter the most.

Interview with: Dallas Salisbury, President and Chief Executive Officer, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)


The focus on costs can be so overwhelming, that corporate benefits directors often lose sight of the purpose of benefits programs, says Dallas Salisbury, President and Chief Executive Officer, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). They should focus on the core issues and benefits, make sure the strategy is designed to achieve its objectives and not chase the latest rumor about the Healthcare Reform.

A speaker at the marcus evans Mid-Market Corporate Benefits Summit 2011 in Hollywood, Florida, June 15-17, Salisbury discusses what people value the most, what benefits directors overlook, and the future holds against the backdrop of healthcare reforms.

What benefit programs do people value the most?

Dallas Salisbury: Health insurance is the number one program, followed by savings and retirement programs. Health insurance is what keeps people healthy and allows them to be at work. Voluntary benefits, such as gyms, are considered nice but people prioritize other things.

What do benefits directors overlook?

Dallas Salisbury: The focus on costs and short-term profits can be so overwhelming that corporate benefits directors often lose sight of the purpose of benefits programs, which is to keep employees healthy and secure, reduce absenteeism and maximize productivity. There is a need to constantly and continuously educate the enterprise on why it is critical to invest in such programs.  

Benefits directors have to do a front-end, annual, comprehensive review of all programs, to rationalize them against the core purpose and objectives of the organization. It is not enough to have health staff looking at health benefits and finance or HR staff at retirement benefits.

How can benefits director prepare for the Healthcare Reform Act?

Dallas Salisbury: The uncertainties tied to the health reform, the constant drum beat of change and increasing costs and pressures highlight the importance of making sure the enterprise is focused on the virtues of benefits programs. Companies that are not bothered with how employees get coverage will be giving away the ability to ensuring the workforce is at its most productive at all times. It is not in the organization’s best interest to detach itself from the control it has over employee wellbeing. Again, this means educating management, talking through health reform and focusing on the essentials within the current budget planning cycle and not on what may or may not happen. There is a lot in the media about how we should worry about the prospect of excess tax on health plans beginning in 2018, but there will be a lot of policy change until 2018, which could make the excess tax issue irrelevant. Benefits directors should focus on what they can control.

What are your thoughts for the future?

Dallas Salisbury: The move towards less generous health programs is making it difficult for people to afford retirement. As the millennial generation enters the labor force, this will be a problem. Benefits executives will have to consider ways of managing the workforce, to encourage exit from the labor force and put people in the position where they can actually retire. This problem is going to magnify itself over the next few years and it will be the number one issue that benefits executives are going to have to deal with.

Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian
Press Manager, marcus evans
Summits Division
Tel: + 357 22 849 313

About the Mid-Market Corporate Benefits Summit 2011

This unique forum will take place at The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, Hollywood, Florida, June 15-17, 2011. Offering much more than any conference, exhibition or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The Summit includes presentations on the impact of healthcare reform, best practices in wellness programs and on building a culture of corporate well being.

For more information please send an email to or visit the event website

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Please note that the summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.

About marcus evans Summits

marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world’s leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, think tanks, seminars and one-on-one business meetings. For more information, please visit 

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