Employers want more advice on employee benefit packages so they can retain key employees. Brokers are ready to give it to them.
Fearful of losing employees to the burgeoning freelance gig marketplace, employers increasingly view benefits as a vehicle to attract and retain workers. MetLife’s 15th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study released earlier this month revealed 83% of employers rank retaining employees through a benefits package above using benefits to boost employee productivity (80%) and control health costs (79%). What’s more, 51% of employers expect benefits to emerge as a significant retention tool within the next three to five years.
Todd Katz, EVP of Group Benefits at MetLife, told Bloomberg BNA the traditional employee-employer relationship has been upended by workers to seeking flexible, freelance work assignments. To retain key staffers, employers must therefore provide a more enticing and all-encompassing benefits menu, Katz said.
What Employers Want for Employees
After interviewing more than 2,500 benefits administrators at companies with at least two employees in the fall, MetLife’s researchers concluded their interest in hearing about all types of benefits jumped by a wide margin between 2015 and 2016.
Benefit executives expressed a rising interest in 16 benefits options, ranging from providing global benefit solutions and recommending non-medical benefits to advising on the Affordable Care Act. In fact, for each item, the desire for more information rose between seven and 11 points from 2015 to last year.
Particularly noteworthy was the focus on non-medical benefits such as dental and disability insurance which climbed from 48% to 58%. Global benefits solutions charted the highest percentage point increase — from 41% to 52%.
Perhaps reflective of the impact the ACA has had on the employee benefits marketplace, a higher percentage of benefit administrators said they wanted more consultation on that health care law — 64% from 57%. That shouldn’t be surprising, LifeHealthPro noted in a summary of the MetLife survey, considering the complexity of ACA in terms of benefit mandates, reporting requirements, and penalties. Any help companies get from their brokers on the law is welcome.
Help Wanted from Brokers
The MetLife survey underscores the vital role brokers play in advising companies on their employee benefits packages. 81% of companies turned to brokers rather than consultants or consulting firms (75%) when seeking more information on benefits when renewal time came due, the study found.
This means group benefits brokers currently working with companies have a receptive audience for their services and policies. Brokers have a unique opportunity to turn this enthusiasm into a selling opportunity. The more packages you offer benefit administrators, the more their interest will be piqued, especially when it comes to health care and wellness programs.
Of course, even if you have a stable book of group benefits business, you should always be aiming to generate new prospects via internet lead providers and referrals. Brokers and firms should also explore cross-selling opportunities. If you’ve sold a company P&C coverage, for instance, inquire if they need an employee health and wellness package. Benefits administrators crave more advice on those subjects and will probably be warmer to someone they’ve already worked with.
Cross-selling and bundling policies do carry some caveats. Recent research from the University of Chicago detailed the tricky path brokers navigate when selling bundled packages. While consumers prefer the convenience (and discounts) of working with one company as a “one-stop shop,” they also are reluctant to take on additional products for extra dollars. Moreover, if one product in the bundle fails to deliver, consumers show an inclination to sour on the entire package. That same consumer mindset holds true for insurance services, the researchers concluded.
Although clients and prospects may be receptive to hearing about your services, tread carefully when discussing a new policy with them. To counter any reluctance to taking on additional premiums, emphasize the value the policies bring to them, i.e., boosting employee retention with a richer cluster of benefits. And always provide good service once a policy is signed.