Beyond Benefits: Enabling Brokers To Unlock Their Full Potential

Brokers are successfully building relationships with small businesses, but they shouldn’t get too comfortable…  

For individuals buying and managing employer-sponsored benefits at small businesses, the support a broker provides is vital. In most cases, it is even more important than the carrier providing benefits coverage. We surveyed 205 small business owners and HR professionals and found that benefits decision-makers tend to prioritize the relationship they have with their broker over the one they have with their carriers.  

% of Employers Who… 

Small businesses are constantly, even if passively, in search of a better broker. So, to maintain an edge, brokers must understand what SMB employers are looking for in a broker. And carriers must keep a pulse on the broker universe to ensure they are taking steps to help the brokers help them – and that they are focusing on the right brokers.  

Brokers need to do a better job at fitting into the HR professional’s world – and that may mean going beyond just benefits.    

It is clear that brokers, by and large, excel at building a relationship with Small Business clients. They are well-trusted and have clients’ interests top of mindStill, brokers have limited visibility into the world of HR, and they are falling short when it comes to solving the administrative pain points that HR professionals deal with day in and day out.

% of Employers Who Strongly/Somewhat Agree with Statement About Their Broker

Working with a broker or benefits consultant may make employers feel like their benefits are in good hands, but benefits management is only one portion of the HR ecosystem. As long as brokers remain siloed into a narrow function of dispensing insurance advice and carrying out insurance transactions, they are missing out on the opportunity to be a true strategic partner and an extension of clients’ HR teams. Brokers that consider the administrative value they can deliver to HR professionals can embed in their teams and be thought of as more than just benefits experts.

Carriers would do well to focus on partnering with the brokers that demonstrate a wide-ranging understanding of the small business stakeholder. And through a well-developed enablement strategy, carriers can also enable brokers to break through limiting silos.  Some forward-looking strategies that brokers can employ to move toward a customer-centric direction include:

  • Partner to Add Value

    Bringing payroll, onboarding, expense management, and other HR capabilities into their scope can broaden the relationship with employers and increase the number of touchpoints where brokers have an opportunity to be the heroes who make the lives of HR professionals easier. And while that may not be the broker’s bread and butter, identifying and partnering with leaders in payroll and HR management will set them up for success.

  • Solve Employee Engagement

    Employees continue to depend on their employers for guidance on how to leverage, and make the most of, their benefits. And this is an ever-present challenge for employers, who feel unequipped to break through to employees. Brokers are uniquely positioned to service end users in a way that drives uptake, education, and ultimately, satisfaction.

  • Solve Digital

    Heads of HR want to automate their solutions, as long as it actually makes things easier. Currently, Heads of HR use ten or more platforms on average for all benefits, payroll, and other HR-related tasks. Whether developing a proprietary tech platform or partnering with technology experts, brokers should present employers with technology solutions that make benefits enrollment and management simple, but also go beyond benefits and embed with HR admin.

  • Lead with Hyper-targeted Offerings

    Employers want a benefits mix that reflects their employees’ unique life-stages, demographics, and coverage needs, but they have a hard time figuring out what that is. Brokers can harness data to help employers configure plans optimized for their specific workforces, and therefore, drive forward employee engagement and satisfaction.

A good broker knows all there is to know about benefits and can guide her clients to the best employer-sponsored plans and options.  A great broker gets to know her client’s operations inside and out so that she can provide the best benefits guidance in the broader context of HR operations.

Do you know the best strategies and tactics to win SMB benefit buyers?

In surveying over 200+ small business employers and employees, conducting candid interviews, and tracking online conversations we identified core executive and HR pain points and opportunities. Download our report for:

  • 5 actions to acquire and grow SMB accounts
  • Tactical next steps for brokers and carriers
  • More insightful statistics on employer and employee preferences