Part 2 – The Agency’s Guide to Better Serving Employers in 2021
In the last Broker Tool Belt post, we shared the first two steps outlined in The Agency’s Guide to Better Serving Employers in 2021. First, we focused on retention and why it is key to growing your agency. Second, we explained how to become the single point of entry to edge out PEOs and DTE software gunning for your business. In this week’s post, we’ll tackle the last four recommendations to fully reveal what businesses are looking for in their broker. If you missed part one, you can read it here or you can download the full guide by clicking here.
As a reminder, the recommendations in this guide are based on survey results from 644 businesses that offer health insurance benefits to their employees. The survey was conducted by Ease in February 2021.
1. Making Your Small Groups Feel like Big Companies
53.58% of the businesses surveyed think ben admin technology will have a bigger role and be a higher priority for them in 2021 compared to past years. While small businesses—those with fewer than 50 employees—are usually slower when it comes to implementing technology, 51.15% agreed with this statement.
According to the U.S Small Business Administration, there are 30.2 small businesses in America, representing 99.9% of total businesses in the country. Small businesses represent the largest segment of the market for insurance agencies. However, it has historically been overlooked due to the overwhelmingly manual, paper-driven processes, and lower returns. Knowing that 59.65% of businesses with fewer than 50 employees are extremely likely or somewhat likely to choose a health insurance broker that offers a free ben admin tech solution over one that doesn’t, your next step seems clear.
Replace paper forms with a system for employers and employees to fill in information digitally. Smaller groups don’t have big onboarding and HR demands like larger companies do and they’re likely to have very simple benefit plans. Consequently, the time allocated to these groups will diminish substantially, all the while, creating a benefits experience traditionally reserved for the bigger operations—and that is what businesses are looking for in their broker. Imagine the kind of loyalty that will help create, while shutting the door on competition.
2. Creating the All-in-One Experience through Integrations
Making it easier to share and exchange data is increasingly important for employers—including finding ways to enhance connectivity between different digital platforms through API-based integrations. When selecting vendors to integrate with their current HR technology, the top three selected by the businesses surveyed were “mobile app for smartphones and tablets,” followed closely by “data is sent directly to my insurance carriers,” and “it integrates with my payroll system.”
Integrations between the different systems will help create an all-in-one solution that will allow your clients to streamline enrollment, payroll, renewal, and benefits administration.
3. Helping Shape Benefits Education and Communications
When asked which areas they would like more help in from their health insurance broker, employers’ top answer was “personalized benefits education, tips, and materials to engage employees.”
It’s not surprising that benefits communications are a significant concern to employers. Oftentimes, employees find benefits enrollment and management to be confusing. Consequently, they don’t know how to engage with their benefits and are afraid to make changes, relying on their employer and broker to help them understand. If benefits become a frustrating experience for employees, engagement will drop and your client’s financial risk will increase. What businesses are looking for in their broker is clarity. How can you simplify benefits communications to empower employees and help your clients ensure their participation?
Keep the messaging and directions simple.
Exhaustive information in benefits communications might cause employees to disengage; keeping your materials as simple as possible is key to high participation and engagement. The prominent spot should be reserved for an easy-to-digest synopsis of the benefits plans offered and, when necessary, step-by-step directions to enroll.
Multimedia messaging provides a different way for employees and their families to engage with their benefits. Expanding your delivery methods will help employees recognize the value of each benefit and make more informed benefits decisions. Consider combining elements like:
- Electronic communications, such as emails or instant messaging
- Videos or webinars
- Packages mailed to home addresses so as to involve families in the decision making
- Social media platforms
- Live hotline for questions and concerns
- Materials such as Q&As, infographics, “Did you know?” sheets, or case studies
Explain the What and Why
Essentially, what are the benefits being offered and why? If there are changes in the benefits program from the previous year, be clear about it: what are the changes and why were those changes made? Focusing on what and why also allows you to highlight the important value of the benefits program. For example, promote wellness or encourage retirement savings. What is a 401(k) and why should employees enroll?
4. Boosting Your Marketing Efforts
You can build an excellent benefits offering, but it doesn’t help if you don’t tell people about it. Marketing has a serious impact on the growth of your agency. You have to put yourself in front of your customers and your prospects, so they know who you are and what you can do for them. However, do you have different marketing materials and campaigns for different segments of the market (e.g. groups with fewer than 50 employees vs. groups with more than 50 employees?) Are you selling and marketing to 20-life groups the same way as 80-life groups? Utilizing the same marketing strategy with all prospective groups won’t work.
First, keep in mind that the stakeholders at different sized companies vary. When asked who at their company makes key decisions about employee benefits, such as deciding which plans to offer each open enrollment period, businesses with fewer than 50 employees primarily selected “business owners.” On the other hand, businesses with more than 50 employees chose “head of the HR team.” When thinking about your marketing efforts, keep this difference in mind and adapt your message to the stakeholders.
Second, the top five preferred ways to stay up to date on benefits and insurance information vary depending on business size. We learned that as the business grows, the preferred way changes from social media to email. Therefore, your marketing strategy for businesses with fewer than 50 employees should focus on targeting business owners on social media platforms, while for businesses with more than 50 employees, you should concentrate on targeting HR teams through email campaigns.
Final Thoughts About What Businesses Are Looking for in Their Broker
The last year has been tough on businesses, especially SMBs. The pandemic forced many of them to close their doors, adjust their offerings, move online, or change how they reached their clients. While most big companies have the capacity or resources to make these adjustments during lean times, it’s much harder with fewer people, a smaller budget, and more need for a DIY approach. As a result, there is unique pressure on insurance agencies to help their clients make it through. The insurance agencies that are going to thrive in 2021 are identifying service gaps between what employers expect from them and the service they are actually providing. This will become your competitive advantage and will position you to stay ahead of the competition. We hope The Agency’s Guide to Better Serving Employers in 2021 helps you get there.