What to Expect from Your Benefits Broker in 2023
Between the economic downturn, mass layoffs, and widespread employee burnout, 2023 is shaping up to be a year marked by curveballs and scrappiness. Now more than ever, it’s time for your benefits broker to step their game up.
Your employee benefits broker should be HR’s partner to help them navigate uncertainties, field curveballs, keep employees engaged, and build an impactful benefits package.
What services should benefits brokers provide in 2023?
As you navigate uncharted territory this year, here's how your broker should support your benefits strategy and HR team.
Offer proactive cost-savings recommendations
When your employer needs to make your dollars stretch farther, your broker should make it happen. After all, you hired them to add value by building a sustainable benefits package.
Your benefits broker should keep a close eye on your budget and shouldn’t be afraid to pivot to reduce your company’s healthcare spend when necessary.
This might mean they’ll suggest alternative vendors to consolidate or improve your benefits plans, ideally with low friction for switching costs. Or they may offer to renegotiate contracts with your vendors to get you a better bottom line.
Act as your “back office” partner to take benefits management off of HR’s plate
If your team is expected to “do more with less,” perhaps even with fewer team members than ideal, your broker should help pick up the slack.
This isn’t unique to this year — or any other period of economic downturn, for that matter.
Your broker should always support all aspects of benefits management, including employee support, compliance, and more both during renewal season and beyond.
Conduct real-time market research
As the economy changes, the state of the workplace is changing too. And that includes expectations around employee benefits.
Your broker should proactively provide you with the real-time market research and data you need to keep your benefits competitive.
As benefits professionals, brokers have access to a range of benchmarking data year-round, and are experts on employee benefits. This research should be up-to-date and reliable, so you can keep up with the market.
Offer a visible and tailored renewal plan
Renewing in a regular year requires enough planning and foresight as it is. Renewing during economic uncertainty leaves a lot of room for stress or failure.
This renewal season, your broker should offer a thoughtful, data-driven strategy with room for edits and a proactive willingness to answer questions. Communication between your broker and you should be open and transparent. Plus, with the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), brokers are now legally required to share previously undisclosed details and data that impact your benefits.
You should get your renewal information at least 60 days before the deadline, and deliverables should be ready to put in front of your CEO and/or leadership on that 60 days out mark.
Advise on employee comms to keep your people engaged
Employees may be holding onto stressors right now given overwhelming economic uncertainty on a national scale. With so much at stake, we’re seeing record levels of burnout across roles and industries, as well as employees being asked to do more with less. This can look like fewer teammates, less of a budget to work with, higher expectations, or a combination of all three.
Especially if your employer just had layoffs, you can expect some challenges with employee engagement. Your broker should offer guidance on how to keep employees engaged as well as valuable resources for your employees.
Broker-provided resources and guidance can help your employees in better understand their insurance benefits, and help them get the most out of their plans.
Build trust through transparency
Due to carrier commissions, unfortunately not all brokers are financially incentivized to find the most cost-effective solutions. For example, a broker may be more likely to recommend a certain carrier or plan if that provider cuts them a commission check or gifts them with vacations or fancy meals.
Your broker should be forthcoming with details on their pay and services. In fact, under the CAA, they're now legally required to disclose this info.
Ensure your broker’s transparency by starting the conversation with thoughtful questions. Ask your broker to see a full disclosure of their services provided, fees acquired, and any provider kickbacks (this includes dinners, vacations, etc.)
Ideally you want to see alignment between your outcomes and their pay — especially if you’re working with a tight budget. If you’re not totally happy with the value you’re receiving (or they’re not swift to remedy any shortcomings), it may be time to switch benefits brokers.
The right benefits broker works for (and with) you
The right broker for your small to midsize business is working for you first and foremost. Your benefits broker should focus on providing you with excellent customer service, rather than chasing profits. They should also work with your HR team to get your employees the best possible coverage at the lowest cost.
Not sure if you’re with the right match? Considering switching your benefits broker in 2023?
Talk with an expert today to weigh your options and find the perfect broker for your business.