6 ways to plan for a bright future beyond renewals

Employee benefit brokers play a pivotal role in helping organizations provide competitive and comprehensive benefits to their employees. However, there is a common misconception that producers’ duties end with annual renewals in a mad dash to the Q4 finish line — now in our collective rearview mirrors as we embark on a fresh calendar year.

In reality, brokers and consultants can provide invaluable assistance in planning not only for the year ahead but also for multi-year benefit strategies. Let’s explore some of our untapped potential in post-open enrollment planning, including communication strategies, engagement initiatives, wellness offerings, claims reviews and lifestyle benefit assessments.

A new beginning

Once the open-enrollment period has concluded, brokers are poised to shift their focus from procurement to strategic planning. While renewals are essential, they represent only a fraction of the value we can bring to clients. Brokers have a unique opportunity to work closely with employers on long-term benefit strategies that can enhance employee satisfaction, attract top talent and boost overall company performance. The object is to build milestones along the way and procure employee feedback to avoid shooting in the dark with benefit ideas.

Modern communication

Effective communication is at the heart of successful benefits planning. “You don’t know what you don’t know” is often the mentality that transcends open enrollment, leaving employees feeling frustrated and confused about how to access even the simplest benefits.

Advisers can help employers craft year-round communication strategies that keep employees informed about their benefits, changes across the healthcare landscape and wellness initiatives. It’s important to keep these messages as succinct and bite-size as possible since we’re all living in the notification era. Our phones and watches are constantly buzzing with notifications and reminders, so long emails and text messages may end up on the “TL;DR” list: Too long, didn’t read.

By tailoring messaging to the needs and preferences of the respective client’s employee population while balancing the demographics and access to technology, brokers can enhance employee understanding and engagement. Proactive communication ensures employees are not only aware of their benefits but also empowered to make informed decisions during their time of need, leading to a more satisfied and productive workforce.

Engagement initiatives

Brokers can collaborate with employers to design employee engagement initiatives that extend beyond open enrollment. These initiatives may include onsite wellness programs, financial wellness seminars, or mental health awareness campaigns. We can help identify the unique needs and interests of the workforce and develop strategies to boost participation in these programs. Engaged employees are more likely to utilize their benefits effectively and are generally healthier and happier, reducing absenteeism and turnover. In turn, employees then feel their employers are focused on their whole self rather than throwing insurance against a wall, hoping it solves all problems.

Wellness offerings

Wellness programs are a cornerstone of a holistic benefits package. Brokers can guide employers in selecting or optimizing wellness offerings that align with the company’s goals and employee needs. Whether it’s fitness challenges, nutrition counseling or stress management workshops, brokers can help curate a well-rounded wellness program that promotes a healthier and more productive workforce. Regular evaluations and adjustments to these programs ensure they remain effective and engaging.

Claims reviews

Brokers can work with employers to conduct regular reviews of claims. Analyzing this data can help identify patterns, outliers, and areas where cost containment or benefit enhancements may be necessary. By identifying issues early, brokers can help employers make data-driven decisions that lead to cost savings and improved employee satisfaction while enhancing access to care. This also helps reduce the surprise that renewals typically bring to employers.

Lifestyle benefit reviews

We’ve always believed that benefits aren’t insurance only; rather, the benefit of being an employee. Anything an employer can offer an employee that perhaps another employer cannot is typically a benefit of being an employee.

Beyond healthcare benefits, brokers can assist in evaluating lifestyle benefits such as pet coverages, family planning, or financial wellness and literacy programs. A thorough review of these offerings ensures they remain relevant and appealing to employees. Lifestyle benefits can significantly impact an organization’s culture and attractiveness to prospective employees.

Employee benefit brokers are well-positioned to provide ongoing value to their employer clients well beyond the annual open enrollment period. By partnering with employers to develop post-enrollment strategies for communication, engagement, wellness, claims and lifestyle benefits, brokers can help create a more satisfied and productive workforce. Brokers, when seen as strategic partners, can contribute to the long-term success and competitive advantage of their clients, making them indispensable in the realm of employee benefits.

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