Although there are high hopes for 2021, business leaders should be prepared for a slow transition back to some sense of normalcy as the year progresses. After all, the pandemic isn’t going to end when the clock hits midnight on January 1st.
For benefits brokers, this means embracing the changes that occurred in 2020 and proactively preparing for what’s to come to better serve clients in the New Year. Here are a few areas of focus that should be top of mind:
Putting Digital First
Even before the pandemic, businesses that were using paper processes for benefits enrollment faced their fair share of challenges when conducting this activity in person. Performing this manual task in a socially distanced working environment, however, came with a host of new issues. As a result, businesses that hadn’t previously prioritized investing in human resources (HR) technology may be more likely to do so going forward.
In 2021, brokers should be leveraging electronic benefits enrollment and highlighting the importance of this to their clients. With a comprehensive benefits administration solution provider, businesses can set up benefits enrollment to enable self-service by employees. This not only simplifies and streamlines the process, but also offers employees a transparent cost analysis during benefit selections and improves overall engagement.
Supporting the New Normal
COVID-19 not only had an impact on businesses, but their employees as well. In fact, 61 percent of employees noted that their job was negatively impacted by the pandemic. Everything from social distancing to finding a good work-life balance while working from home took a toll. The outcome was a whole new perspective on healthcare – not only physical health, but mental health too.
Going forward, both employees and employers will be paying closer attention to their benefits elections. There will likely be an increased focus on offering robust mental health services to employees, as well as an emphasis on communicating the mental health services that are already available (but that employees are not taking advantage of). Highlighting the benefits of mental health resources as well as the ways to access these resources – which may include telehealth options – could prove significant in improving employees’ overall wellbeing. Brokers will most certainly want to do their part in educating their clients about the options available in each benefit plan, as well as the advantages of offering these plans to employees.
Business owners turn to brokers for expertise – not only in assessing benefits plans but also for staying compliant with laws and regulations that pertain to benefits. However, it’s not uncommon for business owners to examine the market before connecting with a broker. This is why it is crucial that brokers stay informed with trends and changing laws in order to maintain credibility as an expert. This includes utilizing the right technology and being well-versed in compliance nuances and benefits plans being offered. Since 2021 will bring a new government with it, staying informed with legislature updates will be particularly imperative. After all, losing a client’s trust could result in a lost client altogether.
The challenges businesses faced in 2020 will certainly have an impact on the decisions being made in 2021. Brokers can provide better value to their clients by identifying these challenges and offering solutions that support their clients’ businesses now and in the years to come.
A lot of lessons were learned in 2020. Discover how businesses are using those lessons to prepare for the future by downloading this whitepaper.