Today, it’s rare for an employee to celebrate a milestone work anniversary. My friend’s dad just celebrated 45 years of working at the same organization. He said as the years went by, he always found that the next better opportunity came in the form of a promotion or transfer and never considered leaving because the company invested in him, his career, and his life goals.
Employee benefits are more than just a hook to attract an employee from the outside. A TechnologyAdvice survey showed 56% of employees considered benefits “moderately” or “very” important, and the same amount said they’d take the perks instead of extra salary.
Organizations need to make sure they’re offering a competitive benefits package that fits their employees’ needs without leading the company to bankruptcy. That’s why choosing the right benefits broker to help build a sustainable benefits strategy and to provide the educational and ongoing support employees need to maximize their benefits is so important.
We Already Have a Broker
Many organizations stay with the same benefits broker year after year because they think switching is complicated, or they have known the person for years.
Benefits are one of the largest expenses a company has and one of the most important variables in attracting and retaining employees. As such, organizations should evaluate their benefits broker — as they would any other vendor — to make sure their broker still meets their needs and that they are providing a competitive package year after year.
When searching for the right broker, organizations should look for four traits: knowledge, communication, service, and technology.
Search for Knowledge
Organizations want a broker who understands their people so they can compile the best benefits package for their employees. Smaller organizations might find value in a jack-of-all-trades benefits broker who can provide a broad knowledge base. Other organizations might need a specialized broker who can cater to employees’ needs like individual health insurance.
A broker should also have the right credentials for the task. The U.S. requires licenses in each state and Washington, D.C., to sell insurance, but being certified as an employee benefits consultant or another specification should be important to find the right benefits package.
The conversation with a benefits broker shouldn’t be once a year, right before annual renewal. A broker should help evaluate any potential changes to the benefits package throughout the year, so an organization is able to prepare for any changes and communicate them to employees.
Yes, communication should extend to employees too, through enrollment meetings or assistance. A broker is an expert in the benefits world and should educate employees on the complexities that affect their selections.
Employees are less likely to contact HR with benefits questions if they understand their selection and are more likely to be satisfied during the enrollment process.
Require Quality Service
An organization’s relationship with its broker shouldn’t only be about signing a contract. Communication and service should be provided year-round, so an organization can evaluate its plan constantly and keep up to date on any changes that might impact benefits administration, compliance, or costs.
A broker should understand complex benefits regulations and provide compliance support such as audits or Affordable Care Act reporting. They should serve as a trusted advisor and not just a salesperson working for commission.
Consult on Technology
Because of their knowledge, the right benefits broker should be able to recommend technology that will simplify open enrollment, benefits administration, and other benefits-related processes like compliance reporting.
But brokers should not focus solely on recommending a benefits administration solution. There is a bigger picture involving payroll, HR, and compliance processes that should be considered when consulting on the best technology platform to meet a client’s needs.
With an unemployment rate hovering at or under 4% according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the benefits package a company offers can play a significant role in attracting great talent or keeping quality employees.
By finding the right benefits broker, organizations can provide the right benefits package — and technologies — to keep employees celebrating their 10-, 20-, or even 45-year work anniversaries and beyond.