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6 Important Questions To Ask When Evaluating Your Benefits Broker Relationship

The workforce development plan you wrote in December of 2019 didn’t give consideration for a global pandemic, did it?

You’re navigating unchartered waters and you’ve learned a lot about which vendors are true business partners. Your benefits renewal is now on the horizon and it is time to dig into the details with your benefits broker. Sure, you’ve worked with them for the past decade, they promptly return your phone calls and respond timely to your email inquiries. They go to the market and present different insurance options for you every year and you love the fruit basket they send during the holidays.

But, are they challenging you to do better? Or, do they follow your lead?

Would you categorize them as a personal trainer, or a bartender? The personal trainer understands your current status, understands your potential, and pushes you to improve with little regard for comfort. Conversely, the bartender fulfills your request for a drink and is judged on their expedience and friendliness. You might treat core payroll processing like a bartender, but a benefits broker should be seen as a personal trainer.

I spend a lot of time working with employers to help them understand what constitutes a benefits broker that has the ‘personal trainer’ persona. The criteria have evolved over the years, but we have consolidated it down to 6 questions to ensure that you will get the most out of your partnership:

    1. Do my employees have an Amazon-esque experience when electing benefits?

      My broker has helped my employees become self-sufficient. They have easy access to all appropriate benefits information in straightforward, easy-to-understand terms, understand how their benefits stack up to other employers and know how to maximize their benefits. They are communicated to regularly in fun and easily digestible formats.

    2. Are we being challenged with the most progressive ideas and strategies to help control costs while improving our benefit offerings?

      My broker pushes me out of my comfort zone and delivers creative new ideas like alternative networks, new provider reimbursement models and various funding mechanisms.

    3. Do we receive proactive or reactive customer service?

      My broker is always a few steps ahead of me, whether it be filing 5500’s or outlining next year’s open enrollment schedule. I never have to remind them. I know nothing will be missed.

    4. Does my broker understand my business, and do they work with similar organizations?

      My broker understands my workforce and where we compete for labor. They bring creative, relevant ideas and I don’t have to teach them about our industry and our business’s decision-making process. They demonstrate that they understand the organization's overall mission and how benefits play a role in accomplishing the mission.

    5. Does my broker offer retirement consulting, and can they assist in any other HR initiatives?

      My broker knows that there is an important correlation between one’s physical, mental and financial health. They help integrate the mission of my retirement plan offerings with my other benefits. My broker assists me in other areas of human resources, like cultural development, recruitment and employee relations.

    6. What am I paying my broker?

      My broker proactively informs me of the compensation they make, I've agreed to that amount of compensation and I receive consulting services commensurate with that amount of money.

You see, the role of the benefits broker is changing, and it is incumbent on your organization to objectively evaluate whether or not you’re with the right partner. Hopefully, these 6 questions can get the process started. Ultimately you should view your benefits broker as a strategic partner who prioritizes your best interests and genuinely cares about your business and your employees. A trusted advisor who delivers that level of peace of mind is who you’ll want to turn to as we navigate the economic impacts of this pandemic together.

Contact a OneDigital Strategist to discover what innovation you can bring into your benefits plan design.



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