2020 superimposed over a crystal ball (Credit: Shutterstock)

As we begin a new decade, businesses that want to succeed in the years ahead must ensure they are keeping up with today’s changes or risk becoming irrelevant. One area that should not be overlooked is a company’s benefits strategy, which should be regularly reviewed and refreshed.

Over the years, benefits have evolved from a “check the box” item to a critical component of an employer’s strategy for attracting and retaining talent. In fact, more than half (52%) of workers would be at least somewhat likely to accept a job with lower compensation but a more robust benefits package, according to the 2019 Aflac WorkForces Report.

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Employee benefits do not have to look like less traditional options such as unlimited vacation time, on-site yoga classes and game rooms to be valuable to workers. As brokers and agents communicate with clients in the new year, here are three ways advisors can counsel clients on how to refresh their employee benefit strategies for 2020 and beyond.

1. Provide white-glove benefits support through value-added services.

Navigating the health care system, including finding an in-network doctor and making sense of medical bills, can be overwhelming, especially for younger employees. In fact, two-thirds (66%) of millennial and Gen Z (63%) employees told Aflac’s survey team that they find negotiating medical billing stressful.

At the same time, 41% have held off on seeing a medical professional because of cost concerns.2 Offering access to value-added services can help reduce stress for employees and employers alike. For workers, health advocacy assists with resolving medical billing and claims questions, locating an in-network provider and more. In addition, telemedicine allows employees to connect with a doctor digitally.

About 61% of consumers said they wre willing to use telehealth for its convenience and faster service, and 54% said they would use it to save money. And for employers, this may mean employees miss less work due to health or medical cost concerns.

2. Offer benefits addressing family history concerns.

Family history plays a crucial role in workers’ health care coverage decisions. Almost three-quarters (73%) of employees, including 80% of millennials and 75% of Gen Zers, said their family history is somewhat to extremely influential in guiding their health insurance decisions.

Additionally, 83% would be likely to purchase insurance to help cover costs associated with a serious illness in their family history (e.g., cancer, heart attack or stroke). This is especially true for Gen Zers (95%) and millennials (89%).

Taking this knowledge, benefits consultants can help clients choose relevant policies. For example, if one’s family history includes heart disease, one might consider critical illness insurance. Also, those with cancer in their family may want to consider looking for cancer coverage that provides benefits for genetic testing and health screenings, such as that offered by Aflac.

Customizable benefits options are a win-win for employees and employers alike, helping lead to benefits satisfaction and added financial peace of mind.

3. Embrace technology for straightforward benefits enrollment.

Over the past two decades, benefits enrollment and administration have transitioned online alongside other industries and services.

Today, 60% of employers use self-service online enrollment and 52% of consumers said they were interested in using an enrollment website for their benefits enrollment. Advisors have an opportunity to better guide clients on how to effectively leverage technology in the benefits enrollment and administration process.

For example, an online enrollment platform as well as spending tools and educational videos can help employees feel more educated, prepared and satisfied with their benefits selections. Look for an insurer like Aflac providing their own benefits enrollment and administration platform available for clients to use at no added cost.

Change can be scary, but unknown medical costs can be even scarier. Advisors have an opportunity to help prevent client’s benefits packages from feeling outdated and guide them toward solutions that will help them stand out to prospective talent. This will position clients to better attract and retain top talent amid the changing times ahead in 2020 and beyond.

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Rich Williams (Credit: Aflac)Rich Williams is executive vice president and chief distribution officer at Aflac.