Allen Niemynski November 6, 2020 6 min read

COVID-19 Reshapes the Benefits Landscape, Providing Unexpected Opportunity for Brokers and Advisors 

How an employee benefits broker can navigate COVID-19 challenges

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, brokers have been at the front lines managing the changes that have turned the U.S. employee benefits world upside down.

 Given the magnitude and  change of pace, it’s important to take a moment to think about the impact this crisis has made on  your clients’ needs  and how you will help them prepare for even more change down the road. 

Preparation and execution will allow you and your clients  to transform an unprecedented crisis into opportunity. 

Helping HR and Benefits navigate  the new abnormal 

Your clients are scrambling to stay in touch with their workforce,  keep payroll current,  and adjust benefits for many of their  employees, practically on the fly. 

Despite these added difficulties for your clients, remote work can actually provide an unexpected opportunity for their companies.

In dollar terms, Global Workplace Analytics says, “a typical employer can save about $11,000/year for every person who works remotely half of the time. Employees can save between $2,500 and $4,000 a year (working remotely half the time),  and even more if they are able to move to a less expensive area and work remotely full time.” 

For brokers, those savings represent a massive opportunity to help clients make smart investments that can transform HR and Benefits from a cost center into a strategic tool that delivers added value. 

Benefits decision support in a remote work reality 

Maximizing benefits program participation requires that employees have the information needed to make the best choices for their families  and their employers.   Employers  must  be able to deliver personalized, actionable information that empowers employees to understand what is changing and why.  

This is a huge challenge. 

The benefits technology and administration solution partner you choose will make the difference in how well your clients can measure their employees' understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of available options. This will help drive the best decisions about changes to their benefits programs and communications strategies. 

 Benefits partner evaluations in the era of COVID-19   

Typically, the first quarter is always a very active season for brokers working with clients to evaluate the benefits technology they have in place and assess the quality of outsourced benefits administrators’ work over the last year.  

However, as companies scrambled to move workers out of facilities and set them up to work from home, many of these evaluations had to be paused.   

While likely initially frustrating, this delayed evaluation timeline presents  another unexpected opportunity: the ability to reassess previous partner recommendations to align with new expectations.  

For example, some clients might need to move even faster to implement new programs or options that may not have been in scope prior to the crisis. 

Are your tech and administrative service partners flexible and experienced enough to meet those schedules and effectively implement those changes? 

What’s next for brokers?

In July 2020, benefitexpress partnered with Employee Benefit News to help brokers understand employers’ needs and challenges as they navigate COVID-19.

Almost three quarters of respondents stated they were looking to switch/invest in benefits administration technology over the next 12-18 months.

Based on our findings we expect 2021 to be a busy evaluation year. Start having these conversations with your clients now and let us know where we can help.

Looking for more of the trends and stats behind this topic? Our white paper includes many more tips about how to prepare your clients for open enrollment and maximizing benefits programs. Download our white paper today!