Posted September 19, 2016
Changes in the health care industry have transformed employee benefits and challenged brokers to develop different relationships with employers. To stay relevant, brokers need to adapt to market trends by enhancing their business practices. Consider four strategies:
1. Invest in technology – Employees research and make benefits purchase decisions online. Brokers should be knowledgeable about the latest technologies and websites available to assist employees in evaluating benefits. For example, 90 percent of millennial employees regularly research products online, with 60 percent using a mobile device. Make sure all communications provided to employees and employers can be easily researched and viewed on digital platforms.
2. Study benefits trends – Keep up with health insurance benefits changes and study new plan ideas that address employees’ needs.
- Develop new ideas to reach small and large businesses. Evaluate benefits offered by other businesses similar in size and scope.
- Analyze demographic employee groups to identify coverage needs, plan designs and premiums they can afford.
- Work with trusted insurance partners to assess insurance usage and national trends and design plans to accommodate these changes.
- Prepare benefits recommendations that proactively address employees’ needs versus reacting to requests.
3. Create interesting messages – Recent studies show that 59 percent of employees have problems understanding benefits coverage, especially the differences between plans. Share plan details and options with simple diagrams and infographics that walk them through the enrollment and claims processes. Consider these ideas:
- Simplify content to focus on key points.
- Direct employees to websites designed to provide more in-depth information.
- Create a Q&A sheet with details that address employees’ concerns.
- Use a variety of digital, social media and traditional communications tools to reach employees: YouTube videos, short digital presentations in emails, discussions over coffee or during lunch, employee newsletters and succinct messages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (Ask your insurance partner for content.)
- Provide short examples to show employees how they can use their benefits.
4. Plan for benefits communication – Develop a year-round communications plan to ensure benefits information is shared at the right time. If employees complete benefits enrollment in November, communicating plan changes in July will be ignored or forgotten. Instead, tell them about upcoming changes four to six weeks before benefits enrollment.
- Encourage employees to enroll early in the cycle, so they don’t miss out on important health benefits.
- After enrollment, provide benefits reminders throughout the year.
- Regularly ask employees for feedback on benefits and communications. Adopt their ideas whenever possible to keep employees engaged with their benefits.