Foodservice companies concerned and confused as to how the new healthcare legislation will impact their businesses in 2011 and beyond are not alone. In fact, FE&S' 2010 Mid-Year Forecast Study, foodservice equipment and supplies dealers cited uncertainty about healthcare as one of the most significant issues facing their businesses in the coming year. From where I sit, it seems safe to assume that most every company within the foodservice industry shares similar concerns.

That's why I was encouraged to see MAFSI shed some light on this perplexing subject during its 2010 Annual Conference in San Antonio. While the one-hour presentation covered lots of ground, this blog post will focus on what I believe are a few key points that will help foodservice companies – regardless of segment – get through what promise to be confusing times.

As a result of the last general election and the government's attempt at reform, healthcare is top of mind for most people. Lots of uncertainty continues to surround this landmark piece of healthcare legislation, though. By one count, there were 1,100 places in the law where it says health and human services will provide further clarification. In other words, the road map for employers is far from clear cut.

Partisan politics and the general uncertainty about what the healthcare legislation means for foodservice companies will continue to cause a significant intellectual and emotional swirl around this very topic. That's why clear, concise and consistent employee communication will be of the utmost importance in the months ahead.

"Employees are getting a lot of information about healthcare from a variety of sources. You need to let them know you are aware of the changes and let them know what you are doing for them," David Wierkiewicz, vice president and director for Wells Fargo Insurance Service, told those attending the MAFSI conference. "Employees are looking to their employers to help them make better decisions."

In addition, Wierkiewicz recommended companies develop a benefits strategy of their own. One step associated with this includes conducting a benefits analysis that compares cost to value and identifies redundancies that can be eliminated and value-added resources. Companies should consider benchmarking their benefit packages against their competitions to identify what they are doing well and what you could do better. Also, companies may want to consider mapping current expenditures.

"Be very open with employees and tell them why you are making these decisions," Wierkiewicz said. "Get them engaged in the process."