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5 Questions Your Broker Should Ask Before Open Enrollment 2021

Believe it or not, for the many companies with benefit plans starting on January 1, the 2020 Open Enrollment period is right around the corner.

Open enrollment may focus on health insurance for employees, but for employers, it’s the perfect time to focus on the health of your company. For HR professionals and SMB owners, open enrollment is also an ideal time to look at where your company currently stands.

Do you feel like you have the same conversation with your benefits broker once or twice a year around your company’s health insurance?

Your benefits broker should be doing more than submitting quotes here and there to renew your plan once a year—they should be using your benefits strategy to better your business.

It’s important to find the right-fit broker—one that brings more than a simple renewal agreement to the table. Here are five questions your broker should ask you before your annual open enrollment period:

1. Do you think this is a valuable benefits program for your team?

When we talk about healthcare, we tend to focus more on our budgets than our benefits. Here at Rally Partners, we agree that most benefits advisors aren’t doing enough for their clients—and the quoting process during an open enrollment is a perfect example of this.

When it comes to health benefits, 54% of employers say affordability is their primary concern.

Costs will play a large role in finding the right plan for your company. We saw a significant rise in average premium rates for employees last year—a 5% rise for employer-based family coverage and a 3% for single coverage—and inevitably, the cost for both you and your team will affect the decisions you make during open enrollment.

Let’s be honest. There will always be increases in terms of healthcare costs. The question isn’t how much your employees are paying, but whether or not it’s worth it.

Speaking of costs, your broker should help you design a benefits plan and contribution strategy that maximizes value for both your business and your team.

Ask about how voluntary benefits can help add value to your employees without added cost to you. It’s easy to simply accept rising healthcare costs as a standard, but you and your broker can pair additional costs with creative, compelling voluntary benefits programs to help balance out the impact.

2. How do your employees view your company benefits?

Your broker may find the perfect benefits package to fit your budget, but how will it sit with your team?

When it comes to healthcare coverage, employees care about more than just costs—they care about value. According to the 2018 Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey, here are the top three priorities employers have for their healthcare plans:

85%—Clinical Conditions
Improve health of employees and reduce costs for key clinical areas
82%—Employee Wellbeing
Enhance total wellbeing in areas of physical, emotional, financial, and social wellbeing
72%—Employee Experience
Enhance employee perceptions about the workplace culture, and technological and physical environments

There’s a greater emphasis on work-life balance than ever before—45% of employees consider a work-life balance “crucial” when choosing a job—and open enrollment is the perfect chance for you to assess how your employees feel about their role in your organization.

The HR landscape is changing. Is your broker shifting their strategy to meet the new standards?

3. How will your HCM platform help facilitate the open enrollment process?

Most business owners only see their broker of record once or twice a year for plan review and open enrollment. They establish a routine: the broker reviews the current plan, gets renewal pricing and competitive quotes from the market, presents their options, supports open enrollment, and receives their commission.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: The HR landscape is changing—and frankly, chances are your broker not only can help with your HCM technology strategy, but they should.

When you’re reviewing your benefits strategy during open enrollment, be sure to consider the role your HCM technology plays. You may not have the right-fit technology, and if you do, you may not realize it.

Here’s a real-life scenario to show you what we’re talking about:

One of our clients was conducting all of their open enrollment procedures manually. The HR director would distribute forms for employees to fill out, then they’d type it into their payroll system to schedule the deductions. Everything was done with pen and paper, but it didn’t have to be.

The reality was that they had the HCM technology infrastructure to let their employees self-enroll. They were paying for a system that allowed them to automate time-consuming procedures—and they had no idea.

Now, let’s take this true story to the next level.

Imagine a world where you didn’t have to chase down every employee on your team to distribute open enrollment forms. Chances are, you’re already living in it.

Most HCM technology platforms have automated notification systems built into the system. You can schedule reminders to your team—open enrollment is a week away, open enrollment is here, only a few more days to change your plan—so you don’t need to waste valuable HR hours on enrollment enforcement.

Plus, if you’re still relying on antiquated hand-filled forms, you’re putting sensitive employee information at risk. The last thing you want is a sheaf of papers with private employee information floating around the office.

To maximize efficiency and guarantee protection, be sure to assess your HCM technology platform when planning your open enrollment.

4. Where does your company stand this year compared to last year?

While you’re sitting down to evaluate your team, your budget, and your benefits, there’s no better time to take a look at where your business stands going into the new year.

Your broker should consider the growth and performance of your company during the open enrollment period. Set yourself up for current—and future—success by taking future pacing into consideration when forming your employee benefits strategy.

Do you plan on selling your business in the next few years? If so, do you know how to value your company currently? How can your benefits strategy contribute to a stronger valuation?

It’s important to bring business advisory context into the conversation. Your broker should be forecasting your future beyond the next open enrollment period to guarantee success.

5. What comes next?

Open enrollment gives employers the opportunity to evaluate where they stand. Look at your open enrollment period as a chance for you to check the pulse of your organization.

Instead of asking your broker what the percentage increase is this year, ask yourself what kind of role your benefits strategy can play in your ongoing success.

Has your broker ever asked you these questions during open enrollment? If you aren’t having these kinds of conversations, then we should talk.

Get in touch to schedule a free benefits check-up. Rally Partners is committed to finding the best benefit programs to fit your organization. We take the time to truly understand your business, your team, and your company culture to identify the benefits and perks that satisfy both you and your employees.