10 ways to keep them happy, productive, and loyal.
You may be sick of headlines and articles about The Great Resignation, but it’s not going away. The truth of the matter: the trend of employees quitting their jobs didn’t start during the pandemic, it began much earlier.
But the changes the Great Resignation brought about will also stay ingrained in workplace culture, according to Anthony Klotz, Organizational Psychologist and Management Professor at London’s UCL School of Management. And he would know, he coined the term and predicted The Great Resignation back in May of 2021.
Burnout, low pay, disrespect, and lack of opportunities for advancement are only some of the many reasons cited during the lengthy job-jumping trend. And one thing agencies and employers have discovered? No industry is immune.
What’s bugging brokers?
Clients are asking more from brokers now than ever before. Their role isn’t limited to processing transactions and being “the middleman” with vendors. Today, employers need help designing, executing, overseeing, and paying for programs that coordinate with other benefits, state mandates, and federal laws.
Brokers are being asked to research an evolving landscape, consult, counsel, and implement new ideas to attract and retain employees with best-in-class benefits — all at a reduced cost to everyone involved. In this new environment, brokers are required to think and do more as an advisor and consultant.
Additionally, brokers are working with vendors that may have cut staff or felt the effects of The Great Resignation along with everyone else — forcing brokers to do more with less support. The need for physical, mental, and emotional reinforcements to help fulfill new demands is higher than ever.
The agency’s dilemma
For an agency on the smaller side, you may have seen your brokers targeted by larger brokerages. Larger brokerages typically mean higher pay and bigger perks. You may have heard it’s a war for talent, but it’s not. It’s an ongoing charm offensive.
So what can you do to keep the best brokers under your umbrella? Instead of focusing on the obvious solution of increasing salaries, why not take a peek into other options, too. Workers have said it themselves — a bigger salary isn’t their only need.
Check out these other considerations that may make sense for your business. After all, you know it best.
If there’s one thing that agencies and brokers know, it’s that better benefits lead to happier workers. And happy workers typically don’t leave.
Your brokers are savvy enough to notice when the benefits they’re pitching to clients are better than what’s being offered in the agency package. The pandemic forced many employees to reassess what’s truly important to them, and brokers aren’t immune to this.
Studies have shown that programs that promote a better work-life balance, in addition to the obvious truths of higher pay and top-notch health insurance, are the solutions workers really want. Now is as good of a time as any to do what your brokers do for their clients; audit your business and compare it to the best-in-class, both inside and outside of your industry.
Psst, as a bonus, here are benefits you can provide that your brokers will love that don’t cost a thing.
Remote jobs are becoming increasingly and exceedingly popular since the pandemic began.
For your brokers, it opens up the opportunity for a better work-life balance. Plus, saving money on commutes, work clothes, and dining out for lunch doesn’t hurt. And working parents have more flexibility for their chauffeur duties required during school and activity season.
For agency owners, you’ll have less costs associated with large, fancy brick-and-mortar buildings and access to a bigger talent pool.
Not ready for a fully remote staff? Consider a hybrid arrangement. A hybrid model usually consists of your brokers working 1-3 days in the office and the rest of the week at home.
This allows your brokers to split tasks best done in person from those that can be done by themselves from anywhere. It also has the added benefit of blending social and bonding interactions in-person at work with some individuality, work-life balance, and cost savings, too.
Hybrid work reduced attrition rates by 35% and improved worker satisfaction scores, with no adverse effect on performance or promotions. Additionally, those with the option to work from home reported higher productivity.
Another bonus? Brokers will likely take less PTO with a remote or hybrid schedule since their home maintenance appointments, i.e. furnace check-ups or pest control visits, can be easily supervised as they work remotely.
Overall, the study found the hybrid model was beneficial for both employees and employers. You may actually have to establish a culture of logging off, as some employees work even more hours in a remote or hybrid environment.
45% of workers who quit cited not having enough flexibility to decide when they put in their hours as a factor in their decision. They want to be judged based on their output and not on how many hours in a day they work, or when those hours occur.
74% of employers use or plan to use a permanent hybrid work model. LinkedIn data has also shown workers are 2.6 times more likely to report being happy and 2.1 times more likely to recommend working at a company where they can choose their location and determine their own schedule.
Non-traditional work weeks
A survey showed 63% of respondents said they have seasonal affective disorder and 80% of those afflicted said it affects the quality of their work. And 85% of those whose job offers “Summer Fridays” — leaving work early or having Friday completely off — said it makes them happier at work.
Many professions, like accounting, already have dabbled with this policy to offset longer hours during their busy season. Consider offering the same thing to your brokers to provide a stress release before or after the craziness of open enrollment.
Open up the choice of a four-day work week with 10-hour days, or mix and match a 12-hour day with an eight-hour one. Ensure your brokers satisfy their clients’ needs and meet your performance standards while creating a happier workplace.
The added demands being asked of brokers increase the importance for them to be able to do their jobs more efficiently to satisfy their clients while meeting their own personal and agency goals. If they’re able to adhere to the “work smarter not harder” adage, they’ll also work happier.
Encourage them to be more intentional about collaboration and share a list of best vendors and practices with peers instead of seeing them as competitors. Peer collaboration can help troubleshoot common problems, find efficiencies, and be the rising tide that lifts all industry boats.
A change of mindset may be required of both your agency and your brokers in thinking there are an ample amount of clients instead of a shortage. Your competition isn’t the broker agency next door — it’s the companies that are trying to replace brokers by becoming the all-in-one solution.
Collaboration doesn’t have to be limited to only physical contacts, encourage your brokers to reach out on LinkedIn to expand their digital universe.
Keep your best brokers by establishing an open and direct two-way conversation culture. Have your leaders be transparent, personal, and human about expectations, accountability, needs, and goals.. Regularly survey employees to serve as a temperature check on how they’re feeling about the company.
Sometimes it can be as simple as leaders asking their employees “what do YOU need?” While you won’t be able to solve every single individual broker’s particular needs and personal situations, you can notice trends and adjust accordingly.
It’s also key to repeatedly let them know that without them, you would have no business. Remind your team that THEY are the #1 asset to your firm. The agencies that thrive will be those that communicate, address, and revisit the changing needs of brokers on an ongoing basis.
Training and education
A survey by The Conference Board revealed 58% of employees would leave their job if their employer didn’t offer them development opportunities. An astounding 96% said they want the chance to expand their skill sets at work.
Bottom line: brokers, like everyone else, want to grow as people.
It’s important to remove obstacles that may prevent employees from learning, like not having enough time for development or limited access to the appropriate resources.
There’s a large perception gap in opportunities for growth at work: Only 10% of executives think there is a lack of development opportunities compared to 40% of employees.
To foster a culture of continuous learning at your agency, ask brokers what would help them develop, how they’d like to learn, and what barriers they see preventing them from learning. Is it PTO specifically for professional growth? Or is it money or technology required to attend classes that will help them be an even better broker?
This may seem costly at first glance, but it’s actually cheaper than losing good talent. One study put an eye-popping number on it: Replacing a single employee ranges from one-half to two times their annual salary.
Revisit your stable of solutions for clients
This industry is notorious for reluctance to change. Just think about how much of the work is still done with paper, pen, mail, or fax.
Buck the historical trend and create a culture that embraces change. Especially after the past two years, strategies that clients may have once dismissed could now be on the table.
Encourage your brokers not to withhold possibilities. Even if a certain idea is floated and rejected this year, the seed is planted and could be an option for next year.
Now more than ever, encourage your brokers to be intentional and customize their solutions. The days of paint-by-number or cookie-cutter benefits are over.
Tools and resources to make their job easier
You can’t retain your best brokers without giving them what they need to succeed.
One way to help? Supplying brokers with tools that help their clients properly communicate the benefits options to their employees. By delivering education and onboarding tools in all of the ways employees want to receive them (video, apps, webinars, email, etc.), brokers can encourage better decision-making and help avoid surprises.
A 2021 Benefits Broker Report discovered 71% of brokers have clients struggling with employee satisfaction with their benefits plans. This is likely because these employees don’t understand the full scope of benefits available to them or how to put them to good use.
Encourage them to record any webinars or meetings and offer them to clients throughout the year. Reminders of open enrollment tips or how employees can effectively use their benefits goes a long way.
Benefits administration technology
According to Benefex, 77% of workers say they expect more from their employers since the pandemic began. This includes the quality of the technology and systems provided, as almost 2/3 said their work technology was antiquated compared to their personal technology.
Leveraging the latest technology to make your brokers’ lives easier is essential. Innovative technology can help reduce the number of human errors and eliminate inefficient redundancies.
Removing the paperwork and replacing it with technology saves your brokers from filling out the same information multiple times, going back for signatures, and trying to decipher awful handwriting. With an HRIS, your brokers, their clients, and their employees can digitally enter the information once and have it populate other systems.
Finding your technology solution
Ease was purposely built by brokers for brokers. Today, over 2,000 agencies trust us to support benefits, payroll, and HR needs for more than 75,000 employers and their 2 million+ employees.
Our technology lets your brokers provide the Fortune 500 treatment for their small group clients. By taking advantage of Ease’s 360 connections — direct, application programming interface (API), 834 files, digital change forms, and more — your brokers can manage group offerings in a way that makes sense to carrier partners and clients alike.
Ease also integrates with top-tier payroll providers to sync deduction and demographic information. Over 6,000 carrier forms can also be added and digitally mapped to any plan in Ease. And if an employer needs a form that’s not in the system, we’ll map it for them.
Help your brokers take the guesswork out of benefits enrollment for employees and reduce confusion and frustration for all parties involved.
You and your team can focus more on building relationships and finetuning benefits strategies, while Ease takes on the operational tasks.