Attendees will learn practical solutions to employee benefits challenges confronting plan sponsors.

Please help me with this phrase. Employees have benefits, so is it correct to say "employees benefit challenges" ? or "employee benefits challenges"?

  • "... to employee benefits and challenges ..." although the whole idea presented is a bit of a muddle. Aug 13, 2019 at 17:55
  • Employee benefits is possible. Aug 13, 2019 at 17:57
  • @MichaelHarvey I struggled with the possessive on one edit, due to the complexity of the ideas presented. What does "employee benefits challenges confronting plan sponsors" even mean? Aug 13, 2019 at 17:58
  • Working with professionals in the healthcare benefits department at work. So they confront challenges from their plan sponsors. I have gone around and around about how this is being phrased. I like reorganizing the sentance as suggested, but that isn't going over well with the marketing department. I liken it to "car dealership"... you wouldn't say "cars dealerships" challenges, but just car dealership challenges, correct?
    – diane
    Aug 13, 2019 at 18:18
  • "employees benefits" (belonging to the employees... only verb is challenges
    – diane
    Aug 13, 2019 at 18:35

2 Answers 2


If you're okay with a bit of reorganization, it might be best to separate the two plurals:

"Attendees will learn practical solutions to challenges with employee benefits confronting plan sponsors."

If you're attached to the current structure, just add a dash between them. While it's not very widespread, it is accepted that one may "hyphenate two or more words when they come before a noun [so that] they modify and act as a single idea."1 In practice, this will look like:

"Attendees will learn practical solutions to employee-benefits challenges confronting plan sponsors."

The uncommon usage there may generate some confusion, so if you're looking to be safe, go with the first option and rearrange the sentence.

  • You've got the hyphen in the wrong place. If anything should be hyphenated, it's the compound modifier. As in: "employee-benefits challenges"
    – Juhasz
    Aug 13, 2019 at 18:15
  • I spaced that -- it says right there, "when they come before a noun" Thanks for the heads up :^) Aug 13, 2019 at 18:17
  • soooo you feel employee-benefits challenges is right (only if hyphen is added?) Or employees benefit challenges?
    – diane
    Aug 13, 2019 at 18:34
  • There is nothing wrong with your original sentence in the technical sense. If you want to use it, go for it. I offered my suggestions as a way to improve, not correct Aug 13, 2019 at 22:19

What is being offered is 'practical solutions' to some kind of problem. Where it gets complicated is in the specification of just what that problem might be. As I read it, that specification is very long and complicated, but boils down to something that 'is confronting plan sponsors'. What is it that is doing all this confronting? 'employee benefits challenges' in other words: 'problems to do with the benefits available to employees.'

On my reading, the whole phrase 'employee benefits challenges confronting plan sponsors' is what we are being offered solutions to. Probably that whole concept would be wrapped up in a single word, if one was speaking German.

But as we are not speaking German, I offer this translation into what I hope is comprehensible English. "Plan sponsors are confronted with challenges relating to the benefits that might be claimed by employees. Attendees will learn practical solutions to such challenges."

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