Small businesses are making smart choices: Brokers can help employers adopt best practicesArticle added by Tye Elliott on August 6, 2014
Tye Elliott

Tye Elliott

Joined: March 21, 2014

Recent changes to the way employers think about health insurance have led many business leaders to focus on how their company can control costs and stay competitive, which at times comes at the expense of the workforce. However, brokers may have experienced that small-business clients are doing a few things right when it comes to providing smart health insurance options for employees. Well, a recent survey by Aflac found this to be true. Armed with this knowledge, brokers have an opportunity to do one of two things when it comes to advising business clients.

First, brokers should stress that small-business workforce challenges aren’t over, and therefore, they should continue providing the best benefits for a competitive edge. Secondly, brokers can use the insight gathered from small businesses as advice to all clients, emphasizing the importance of how benefits decisions impact the overall quality of a workforce, which is especially true when it comes to recruitment and retention. Here are four points for brokers to address when discussing benefits with clients of all sizes.

1. Use benefits as a retention tool.

According to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report, small businesses made smart decisions and in turn were able to keep their employees satisfied. Of those companies, only 11 percent reduced the number of major medical plans offered to their workforce and more than half (51 percent) of employees surveyed said their benefits package meets their family’s needs extremely or very well. This is important because it shows that maintaining a variety of insurance options helps employees find coverage to fit their financial situation. Keeping an open mind to the types of health care benefits offered helps increase employee satisfaction. For example, companies with sales growth over the past five years are 3.5 times more likely to say their employees are extremely or very satisfied with their current benefits package; these companies are also four times more likely to believe benefits influence job satisfaction and productivity.1 By showing how benefits are a tool for retention and recruitment, brokers can help employers understand that making smart benefits choices is worth the investment.

2. Change is not always good.

Even though small-business employees might be satisfied with their pay, enjoy their company environment and their day-to-day work, they still may be lured away by better benefits at a different company. In the midst of the changes to health care, and the confusion that accompanies it, there are employers that are unsure about what decisions to make in the coming months — especially with open enrollment around the corner. One thing is for sure: Making drastic changes to employee health care benefits may have unintended consequences that employers don’t anticipate. Brokers need to position themselves as trusted advisors, especially when clients are unsure of whether to expand or cut their benefits offerings.

See also: Key health care and benefits trends to watch in 2014

Employers look for insights from brokers, and they need to know how vital it is to maintain a range of health insurance options for employees. The Aflac study found that 23 percent of employees at small businesses are extremely satisfied with their job, compared to 17 percent of employees at large companies and 19 percent at medium-sized companies.1 While there are several factors that contribute to job satisfaction, employees are more satisfied and secure when their employer provides them with a range of benefits because it shows that employers care about the health and wellness of their workforces.

3. Benefits satisfaction can help increase company loyalty.

The Aflac study found that despite benefits meeting the needs of the employee’s family, more employees at small companies think there’s room for improvement when it comes to their benefits packages. In fact, only half (50 percent) of small-company employees say they are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits, compared to 59 percent at medium-sized companies and 60 percent at large companies.1

The 2014 Aflac study found that 57 percent of small-business workers said they’re likely to accept jobs with slightly lower compensation but better benefits, and 47 percent of small-business employees said improving their benefits packages is one thing their employers could do to keep them in their job.1 Benefits continue to play a key role in keeping employees in their jobs.

4. Voluntary insurance benefits are more important than ever.

Businesses rely on brokers to provide solutions that help reduce and manage employee health care costs, while delivering on the coverage demands of a workforce. Brokers should help clients consider employee-paid policies like voluntary insurance benefits.

The Aflac study found that 85 percent of small-business employees consider voluntary benefits as part of a comprehensive benefits program.1 In fact, 62 percent of workers at small companies say voluntary insurance is increasingly important today, and of that 62 percent, 73 percent stated voluntary as important to combating rising medical costs.1 Half of all U.S. households are financially vulnerable and have less than $1,000 to pay out-of-pocket expenses for an unexpected injury.1 Knowing that health care costs will continue to increase and workers aren’t prepared for those costs, voluntary insurance benefits can help alleviate some of the financial burden when illnesses or injuries hit.

Go forth and conquer

So what does all of this mean? For brokers, agents and producers, it reiterates the importance of health insurance products, and how knowledge and insights help businesses make smart decisions. With all the recent shifts to the health care landscape, brokers have an opportunity to position themselves as experts and grow their client list.

1 Aflac, “2014 Aflac WorkForces Report,” conducted by Research Now, January 2014

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