What You Need to Know
- The pandemic is still out there.
- The employees aren't interested.
- The people in HR are overwhelmed.
More than ever, group business agents are encountering human resource professionals that have a lot on their plates. The expectations for individuals in the roles running HR departments have not only expanded to involve more duties, but teams have become leaner, and the duties they oversee have become more complicated.
Given that employee benefits have grown to become the second or third highest spend an organization allocates budget for in an annual fiscal year, agents need to convey clarity and value to C-suite senior decision makers more than ever.
To sum it up, the job of managing benefits has become more difficult, and the stakes have only gotten higher. This is putting more pressure on the agent community now, especially as the pandemic continues to linger, and the agent community’s clients continue managing the challenge of increasingly remote workforces, workplace health and safety protocols, and a disengaged workforce.
However, despite these obstacles, the response from many agents and their clients last year did result in some much-needed innovation within the group benefits space. 2020 was the catalyst that pushed group plan providers to pivot benefits communications during open enrollment, focusing on support for the consumption of employee health plans on virtual platforms. Though there were headaches, there was also excitement. Now, 2021 provides the same virtual challenges, but in a different environment where agents need to be aware of a client workforce that is more fatigued, and often looking for opportunities elsewhere.
Clients have one last chance to prove to their employees that they care through not only the package that they have chosen, but also how effectively they can deliver the benefits information to a user base that has low benefits-literacy rates. And, despite agents working to ensure clients retain their informational expertise, many aren’t fully informed on everything their plans offer. Synthesizing that information is even harder as the marketplace has pushed away from consolidation of benefits to one carrier.
Additionally, it’s become clear that the agent community must prepare to support yet another virtual enrollment season as many of their clients will remain on a remote or hybrid schedule and continue to demand on-demand virtual presentations. Not only does this impact the employee population, but also the overall client selling process, as virtual presentations can be easy to disengage from in a one-sided screen environment.
So, what can group benefit agents do to give this open enrollment season their best chance of success?
Be aware of the unique challenges the 2021 season presents and address them in the delivery of your benefits offerings to potential new clients and incumbent partners.
Here are six ways to make open enrollment work better.
1. Personalize your approach.
In general, clients are overwhelmed by messaging. They need consultative partners who can approach them with solutions that are suggested based on their employee demographics, conscious of their company’s budget and provide measurable goal points that can be communicated effectively to a C-Suite in order to justify the investment. If an agent shows their client general solutions, or ones that aren’t feasible for their circumstances, their clients will quickly lose confidence in their partnership.