A Broker’s Guide to Helping Employers During Open Enrollment
- Lauren Hargrave
- 4 min read
Many benefits brokers have seen their professional roles shift in recent years from strictly selling to clients to becoming their true partner. Employers large and small are trying to do more with fewer resources, so they need to lean on their vendors as experts in the field who can not only help them choose the best options for their employees, but can also help with the execution. In fact, 83% of brokers are being asked to help contain healthcare costs and 71% have clients struggling with employees’ dissatisfaction with their benefits.
As open enrollment approaches, these are five ways brokers can help their clients save money, attract and retain top talent and help employees make the right decisions. These strategies can be used year-round to continually educate employees so they maximize their benefits and end up feeling more satisfied with their choices. You can also download our Open Enrollment Survival Guide for more resources, checklists, and step-by-step open enrollment communication strategies to share with your clients.
1. Great multi-channel communication
Everyone learns differently. Some people would rather listen to a presentation than read a document. Some need to sit in a quiet room by themselves to read and process information fully. Some won’t completely understand their benefits choices and how they’ll affect their lives without the ability to ask a live person questions about their specific situation. Most companies will have a combination of these three individuals to whom they need help communicating.
To help your clients be successful this open enrollment season, you must provide them with the resources to reach all of their employees effectively. That means giving them access to readymade materials, helping them develop their internal benefits presentations, and helping them to create a communications schedule that will keep benefits interesting and top-of-mind but doesn’t inundate employees with too much information.
Success might also look like offering your clients the option to have employees contact you or another live person to ask questions about their specific situation. Questions should be answered in no less than 24 hours and if you have the capability for a live chat feature, that’s even better.
Examples of communication channels include:
- Dedicated benefits landing pages with FAQs
- Physical brochures
- Digital town halls
- In-person presentations
- Digital presentations
- Live chat
- Social media posts
- Live discussions dedicated to a singular benefits feature or issue such as fertility or medical travel
The more engaged employees are in the benefits selection process, the more likely they are to choose something that works for them and to maximize their choices. Maximizing choices can lead to higher satisfaction with their benefits.
2. Embrace virtual open enrollment
We’re sure we don’t have to tell you this but, people are busy. They need help fitting things like benefits selection into their schedules. Helping your clients to make education materials digital will allow employees to access them when they’re ready, and to digest the information on their own time. Employees will likely need to come back to the various materials multiple times as they have discussions with their families and questions arise.
But offering digital resources isn’t enough. The entire open enrollment process should be virtual. That’s because more employees are remote now than ever before and many, especially those with dependents, need to be able to sign up for their benefits whenever their schedule allows.
3. Engage with leaders and managers (as well as employees)
When helping your clients to choose the right combination of benefits it’s important that you get feedback from all stakeholders. Ask leaders and managers what issues they’re seeing in their teams and if they’ve received feedback regarding employees’ ability to utilize benefits. Include leaders and managers in presentations so that employees see them as involved in the process. Engaging with employees directly is also important as there may be some issues they’re not willing to speak with their managers about.
4. Explain the value of benefits in practical, real-life ways
Many people have a difficult time thinking conceptually. So in order to effectively educate your clients and their employees about their benefits options and how to use them, make sure the materials are in plain language. Make sure they give real-life examples of how the benefits work and include testimonials to add a human element to the presentation. Employees need to know how different benefits can help them solve the problems they actually face.
5. Focus on old-fashioned customer service
When an employee asks a question about a benefit or issue they’re having, make sure they get a quick, personalized response. The process of choosing benefits is a very personal experience so people want to know that there’s a human on the other end of that experience that cares. So make sure you have the support you need to support your clients and their employees during open enrollment so everyone feels like they have the information they need to make a good decision.
Make health insurance easier for employers
The health insurance landscape is constantly changing and it’s impossible for employers and employees alike to stay on top of it all. That’s where you shine. By using your expertise to not only help employers make good decisions, but to communicate those decisions to their employees and help employees in turn make good decisions, you can become an irreplaceable partner to your clients.
For more resources to help empower your clients this open enrollment season, download Lively’s Open Enrollment Survival Guide and consult our compilation of open enrollment resources. If you’re looking to refresh your HSA or FSA offerings this season and work with an open enrollment partner that’s easy to use and has great customer service, reach out to us at Lively.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.