Employee benefits play a vital role in helping companies attract and retain qualified, high-performing talent. Benefits are so important in the modern business environment that more than half of employees say they would rather have extra benefits than a greater salary.
However, companies that are looking to improve their recruiting and retention efforts cannot expect to see results by haphazardly adding to their list of benefits offerings. It often requires years of experience and expertise in the benefits world to devise a solid strategy that will be effective while protecting the company’s finances. This is when an experienced employee benefits broker can prove to be valuable.
The Role of an Employee Benefits Broker
An employee benefits broker is a specially licensed insurance professional who focuses on providing organizations with the most optimal employee benefits packages possible. They possess significant knowledge about which benefits programs are available to businesses, how they are priced and which vendors offer various benefits. They are also skilled at negotiating benefits plans that will give companies the greatest return on their investment.
An reputable benefits broker will spend time understanding the business before developing a tailored employee benefits plan that meets the needs of its workforce.
Although many organizations choose to work with employee benefits brokers because they wish to take advantage of the good relationships they have with benefits vendors, the best brokers also offer valuable consultations that can help make the entire process significantly easier for their clients. For example, they can answer questions about compliance and explain online policy access and HR tools to employees. They can also help ensure that the organization’s employees understand the benefits that are available to them and how to access them.
Another significant portion of their role is to provide expert advice about the marketplace. This might include the differences between different insurers, trends in the marketplace and any upcoming changes in legislation that could impact employee benefits.
Some of the other services they may offer include:
- Advice on minimizing total costs, such as tips for keeping premiums down
- Reviewing and negotiating contracts with benefits providers to find better deals
- Analysis of existing benefits and claims to advise on potential improvements and areas where cost savings can be made
- Assistance in resolving problems related to claims or the administration of benefits
- Recommendations for changes to benefits packages based on factors such as employee demographics and previous utilization rates
Advice on Choosing a New Employee Benefits Broker
Employee benefits brokers can have a significant influence on a company’s success by improving recruiting and retention. Therefore, organizations need to select their broker carefully and ensure that they will be able to make the right choices for their workforce.
This can be a surprisingly challenging process for businesses. Because employers do not need to select brokers often and the benefits industry continues to evolve, they are not usually well-versed in the latest qualities they should be seeking. There is also a lack of tools available for making effective broker comparisons.
Outlined below are some of the factors that should be considered when assessing potential employee benefits brokers.
The Scope of Services
Different employee benefits brokers offer different services, so it is important to clarify which benefits will be included in the packages they offer from the outset. A good employee benefits broker will offer benefits that go beyond the standard health, dental and life insurance offerings and include advice on strategies for attracting modern workers, such as offering remote work capabilities and flexible working hours.
Open Enrollment Assistance
Open enrollment communication programs are essential for employee engagement. Organizations should seek employee benefits brokers who offer outstanding benefit communications and guidance to human resources teams in addition to benefit products that address employees’ needs directly.
One crucial aspect of employee benefits is compliance with state and federal laws as well as the complex regulations associated with the Affordable Care Act. Any violations of these laws can result in penalties including fines. Therefore, it is essential to work with a broker who is familiar with the regulations and works with compliance experts. A skilled broker will also help the organization maintain accurate records and submit documentation on time.
A good broker will also be a skilled communicator with a fully formed communication strategy to ensure employees are receiving the information they need at the right times. Organizations should ask about their communication methods and goals and which processes they use to facilitate communication. They should also offer a direct line of communication for the organization’s employees to ask questions.
Tools for Program Administration
In today’s technologically advanced world, businesses and employees should have access to web and mobile tools that can help them manage benefits. This might include the ability to research healthcare providers, access claims data online, or use apps with wellness advice. As part of the selection process, organizations should ask prospective employee benefits brokers what type of technology they offer for benefits program administration.
A good broker will also provide access to employee wellness plans. Not only can these plans serve as a great opportunity to reduce overall group health insurance rates, but they can also improve employees’ health while engaging them in making positive lifestyle changes. Participation in wellness plans can reduce employee sick leave and improve productivity.
Some types of claims can be very complicated, so organizations should seek employee benefits brokers who are willing to step in and protect them when needed. They should also be prepared to manage questions and claims in a timely manner.
Fee structures vary among brokers; some charge a flat fee based on the number of employees who will be covered monthly and others depend on commissions from insurers. Organizations should ask for a detailed explanation of the broker’s fee structure and find out how they avoid conflicts of interest related to arrangements they might have with specific vendors.
Contact the Employee Benefits Consultants at Business Benefits Group
A well-rounded benefits plan that meets employees’ needs is the key to attracting and retaining high-quality employees, and the insight provided by employee benefits brokers can help organizations meet their goals. To speak to an experienced employee benefits consultant, contact our team of professionals at Business Benefits Group (BBG) today.