According to Prudential’s Ninth Study of Employee Benefits, 81% of benefits brokers said their role has changed a great deal in the last five years. The employee benefits landscape has changed significantly, with the role of the benefits broker having shifted from being sales-focused to service-oriented. To compete, today’s employee benefits broker needs to offer end-to-end service with the objective of delivering tangible value and solutions. All this must be done while squaring balance sheets with employee expectations.
This new paradigm has placed greater customer demands and increased expenses combined with stagnant commissions, resulting in reduced profits and margins. The best way to address this: become an operations-first organization. This means aligning your strategy, process and execution so that you and your teams have the time to focus on servicing and offering value. In turn, this enables your business to win new, profitable accounts and retain existing clients.
How can your employee benefits division achieve this?
Start by getting rid of the waste: According to Lean principles, 50% of all work across all industries is waste. Just imagine the additional time and cost you’ll free up.
This includes streamlining necessary work and incorporating value-added work that enhances your customer experience:
- Identify the ‘waste’ in the benefits process – including price shopping, obtaining missing information, correcting wrong information, reformatting proposals, having senior employees doing junior-level work, following up with carriers/providers, etc.
- Once you see where the waste is, work on implementing new methodology that works in today’s benefits climate. This includes standardizing the ad-hoc process, segmenting accounts and service levels, sourcing the right work to the right person and streamlining workflows and eliminating redundancies.
- Incorporate value-added work that enhances your customer experience.
- Review your talent to confirm you have the right staff in place:
- Ensure you have the processes to attract and retain talent
- Spend the time developing talent
- Align incentives and goals
- Continually evaluate performance
- Analyze results by establishing a performance baseline so you can benchmark operational effectiveness, make operational changes and continually monitor and measure the impact of the changes you’ve made and ultimately your business results
The benefits environment will continue to evolve as the new administration looks at revamping the existing healthcare landscape. Be ready to thrive as change comes by putting your operations first, enabling your employee benefits division to be nimble and ready to respond.