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Five strategies to stay competitive as a benefits broker

To meet the demands of companies and their people, brokers must become partners. They must learn about their clients’ enrollment participation, cater to employee benefits preferences, and most of all, move away from the traditional model of benefits planning that only offers standard core benefits or a grab-bag of stale voluntary benefits.

Here are five tips to help brokers stay competitive in today’s employee benefits environment.

1. Be a benefits advisor by focusing on employer needs and wants

Instead of viewing yourself as a benefits broker, consider your role as a benefits advisor. Take the time to evaluate your client’s understanding of their benefits and the employees’ enrollment participation. You might uncover pain points that can easily be solved with the right set of benefit offerings. As you familiarize yourself with the enrollment and benefits issues specific to your client, you can leverage that information to communicate a targeted enrollment plan with tailored recommendations that deliver maximum value and impact. Brokers who act as advisors and who understand the issues of employers will stay relevant and become more valuable to their client.

2. Stop the product dump of benefits

Employers are often concerned about one primary issue: containing benefits costs. If the benefits package you offer includes a number of benefits that employees choose not to elect, the employer is left with a huge loss on their investment. The one-size-fits-all mentality of a product dump flies in the face of a seamless benefits package. You run a similar risk by outsourcing to carrier representatives who lack the historical knowledge of your client to provide meaningful benefits options. Both tactics can ultimately lead to employers overspending on benefits that don’t fit their company. Instead, recommend thoughtful, personalized benefits based on the employer’s individual needs.

3. View “voluntary benefits” as “enhanced benefits”

Benefits outside of traditional, core offerings are gaining momentum among employees. As workers’ wellbeing priorities continue to expand beyond the traditional boundaries of physical wellbeing, so too have the benefits that employers are offering their people. Although these benefits outside of the traditional core offering are often referred to across the industry as “voluntary benefits,” they are an integral part of developing a holistic benefits plan that supports workers’ evolving needs.

To positively communicate the value-add to a client’s basic benefits, frame these benefits as “enhanced benefits.” It’s possible to further break down these enhanced benefits into two types: “core” enhanced benefits (dental, vision, accident, critical illness) and “supplemental” enhanced benefits (telemedicine, ID theft protection, student loan repayment, pet insurance). A unique set of benefits will empower employers to become more competitive in talent acquisition and keep employees happy.

4. Start the benefits conversation before open enrollment

Discuss benefits options early on with your client, before open enrollment, to allow them time to explore and assess the value of your recommendations. One of the biggest hurdles in executing benefits enrollment conversations too close to open enrollment is the surprise in rate increases. That blow can be softened significantly by discussing options in advance. Your clients want a year-round benefits strategy, so waiting until renewal season or open enrollment to tackle your clients’ issues is far too late. Proactively discussing benefits and attendant issues keeps you ahead of the curve as a broker.

5. Find the right benefits partner

Brokers must brace themselves for the upheaval of traditional benefits packages. The old model of poor cost-containment, product dumps and mediocre communication will lead to the disintermediation of benefits brokers altogether. Don’t be eclipsed by an ever-changing market or an incompatible partner. Alight offers a broad range of solutions that can help clients of any size with any level of support. We have the experience and expertise in partnering with brokers to execute successful benefits strategies for our clients.

Want to learn more about  partnering with Alight for your benefits needs? Let's talk!

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