As an attractive incentive in a COVID-weary world, employee benefits demonstrate your dedication to your team’s health and well-being, possibly tipping the scales for a prospective employee when it comes to working for your company versus a competitor’s. And for your dedicated current employees, benefits provide support through peace of mind, allowing your team members to concentrate fully on the work at hand. In both cases, employee benefits positively affect recruitment and retention, giving your business a better bottom line.
During this period of the “Great Resignation”, a steadfast partner—an Employee Benefits Broker—can become your secret weapon. But not all brokers are alike. Many will provide satisfactory service, but when it comes to going over and above what is needed, they fall short. In this blog post, we’ll describe four pillars of service your small business should be receiving from a truly excellent employee benefits broker.
1. Your Broker Should be a “Benefits Whisperer”
According to MetLife’s 2021 Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, small business employees who believe their employer offers a benefits package that meets their personal and household needs are:
- 18% more likely to be productive
- 36% more likely to feel engaged
- 37% more likely to feel resilient
- 45% more likely to feel motivated
- 54% more likely to feel valued/appreciated
As well, MetLife’s study determined that nearly half of employees in small businesses say that their employer’s benefits package played a role in their decision to join the organization.
Although it’s clear that employee benefits can help (or hinder) your recruitment and retention, the prospect of researching the right programs, vendors, and prices can be overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you improve what you already have? What are prospective employees looking for in a benefits package? What do your current employees really want?
An employee benefits broker should be your go-to expert. They are licensed professionals (and admitted insurance geeks) who know and understand the myriad options that exist in the world of employee benefits. Able to explain concepts, programs, and terminology in layman’s terms, an exceptional broker will serve as a “Benefits Whisperer” of sorts—listening carefully to you and your employees, and translating your company’s history, current situation, and vision for the future into employee benefit ideas and recommendations.
2. Your Broker Should Offer a Customized Process
An above-average employee benefits broker knows that getting a benefits quote is not as simple as going to a website and providing a list of employee names, dates of birth, and dependents. In fact, the top professionals in this area typically eschew the word “quote” because it sounds more transactional than relational.
Starting with an initial fact-finding consultation where they will ask questions about your business, your employees, and your current or past experience with benefits programs, a good broker will seek to understand your situation and needs. Upon leaving your first meeting armed with knowledge about your company and team members, they will begin the bidding process with multiple carriers to find the best coverage for the best prices. Don’t expect a next-day reply; a conscientious broker will take several days to a week before following up. He or she will be busy leveraging their many relationships within the industry on your business’ behalf. The best brokers will then return not only with a price, but with a program that will fold in perfectly with your organization’s goals while matching what your current and prospective employees want.
3. Your Broker Should Provide Personal Attention
Once you have decided upon your benefits package, don’t expect to only hear from a first-rate employee benefits broker during Annual Enrollment time. Year-round, they will conduct lunch-and-learns for your team members, assist you in keeping up with compliance, and answer questions regarding your benefits package. In contrast to a larger insurance company that offers a 1-800 number on their insurance card, a superlative benefits broker can be reached directly during an urgent situation—and will know exactly who you are. Does one of your employees have a specific benefits issue? You don’t have to put another task on HR’s plate; top-notch brokers will speak with your team member directly to provide a solution.
4. Your Broker Should be a Partner in Your Business
Like having a friend in the industry of whom you can ask the biggest, smallest, (or seemingly dumbest) question, a good employee benefits broker is there to help without judgment. As your business grows, changes, and pivots, superior brokers are by your side and ready to assist. Your budget has been cut? Above-average brokers can recommend voluntary benefits that give freedom to your employees to choose what they need and when they need it. Need to create different coverage for different groups within your organization? As long as it’s non-discriminatory criteria and is in accordance with the laws of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), skillful brokers will suggest options.
Non-traditional voluntary benefits such as financial planning tools, legal plans, and pet insurance are now desirable benefits for small business employees. A high-caliber employee benefits broker keeps up with these trends, and proactively provides advice on the latest offerings. The best brokers strive to make things easy for their clients, offering virtual enrollments via Zoom and other benefits that have risen to importance since the Pandemic: TeleMedicine services for medical and mental health, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), corporate wellness initiatives, and supplemental insurance. Many utilize technology by offering intuitive digital platforms to employers at no cost, providing a variety of services such as online enrollment for employees, and access to new hires and enrollment data for administrators.
What Level of Service is Your Small Business Receiving?
During this unprecedented period of high employee turnover, choosing the right benefits is a crucial step in attracting top talent to your organization, and showing your current employees that their well-being is your priority.
All employee benefits brokers receive built-in commissions that are part of what your company pays for insurance. What level of service are you receiving? An exceptional employee benefits broker will not only help you discern the right benefits for your company, they will get to know your business, be there for year-round counsel and management, and can knowledgeably advise you as your company grows.
At 3to99, we believe people matter. We value your business, and each and every team member who keeps it running. By choosing to work with us, you not only solve your benefits needs, you also gain dedicated partners in your success.
Here’s what Tara Campbell, HR Director at Volunteer Mechanical, Inc., in Knoxville had to say:
“We signed on with 3to99 two years ago when we felt we were not getting the service we needed from our previous broker. That was the best decision we ever made! Kevin, Erin, and their staff have been amazing to work with and to get to know. They have always been on top of everything, answered all questions for us and our employees, they are on top of the latest insurance trends, and have just made our lives a lot easier. We would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a knowledgeable broker who is always there, easy to work with, and just great people!“