Jennifer Daniel, Vice President of Premier Technology Partnerships, Aflac
in times of change and uncertainty, like those we all have experienced for nearly a year, brokers are seeking ways to set themselves apart and shine. One way to do this is through embracing the rapidly evolving digital landscape, helping existing and potential clients discover the right technology solutions for their employees.
Employers know they need to stay competitive, and benefits are a vital way to do just that. According to the2020- 2021 Aflac WorkForces Report, about half of employees said the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call to invest more time in benefits research to understand options better. In fact, 35% of workers say improving their benefits package is the one thing their employer could do to keep them in their jobs – second only to increasing their pay.1
This growing need for strong benefits plus a largely digital world means clients are looking to invest in the right platform that helps meet their enrollment and year-round benefits administration and communication needs. However, brokers do not have to be InsurTech experts to offer valuable counsel to help clients choose the right platform. Here are a few considerations to discuss as part of that selection process:
• Sophistication — How complex a system does the client need? Some businesses may have only basic enrollment needs, while other ones are seeking technology that solves for multiple HR challenges. Is the employer only looking for benefits enrollment, or do they also want a system to manage payroll, time and attendance, employee communications, performance management, etc.?
• Match to benefits strategy —Pick a platform that can support the benefits the employer is currently offering. Not all platforms can support whole life, issue age rates, etc. It’s important to know if the employer is willing to change benefits to fit the platform or if they need to select a platform that can support their current benefit offering.
• Pain points — Knowing what challenges a client is looking to solve will help guide the solution brokers propose. Were they on a system before, and it wasn’t robust enough? Is there a specific challenge they want to solve, such as year-round engagement or decision support? Knowing what they don’t like about their current process will help brokers propose a better solution.
• Staying realistic — Some startup platforms boast a glitzy user experience, but the most important features for a benefits administration system are behind the scenes: loading rates correctly, sending carrier enrollment files, payroll integration, employee access, etc. Don’t get distracted by the shiny exterior; make sure the system can handle the hard work.
• Communication capabilities – Is the system mobile-enabled? Does it provide tools employees need when they are at the doctor’s office? Does it allow for push messaging or texting to better communicate with employees? Digital communication tools are more important than ever before, and employers are looking for tools that allow them to reach their employees wherever they may be.
• Security — Protecting individuals’ private information is vital, so take a census of the type of protection that are in place, including password protocols, cybersecurity insurance, security protocols, and commitment to security audits.
HR platforms are not only great tools to help employers support the administration of benefits, but they also provide data and analytics that can help drive strategy. Many employers may not take full advantage of the suite of tools some platforms offer. Brokers should encourage clients to dig into the analytics, survey tools, and reporting available within these systems. This data can help drive changes to strategy and justify the platform’s cost.
Although the world around us continues evolving to meet ever-growing digital needs, brokers can rest assured that benefits offerings — and the technology platforms to implement them — will continue to be vital to businesses’ success. As you offer clients advice on navigating platforms to serve this purpose, you can also strengthen relationships and deepen your reputation as a trusted advisor. If you aren’t talking to your clients about technology, someone else will.