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Tips for Finding the Right Benefits Advisor

Monday, January 31, 2022 2:06 PM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

Submitted by TAC Benefits Group

Despite the many challenges, staffing company owners who are adaptable and creative found 2021 a year of opportunity. For 2022, the winners in staffing will be those who are laser focused on their goals, who are committed to efficiency, and who prioritize a culture where every employee matters.

The emphasis on employee well-being can’t be overstated. With labor shortages plaguing staffing firms large and small, no one can afford an unhealthy workforce. Nor can we afford having skilled and unskilled workers stolen away by competitors. Employee health benefits are an important part of the solution.

In fact, when it comes to retention, employer-sponsored health benefits are often the tipping point. Fifty-six percent of U.S. adults said their health coverage is a key factor in deciding whether or not to stay at their current job (source: American Health Insurance Plans survey).

As you review your long-term operational and financial goals in 2022, is employee retention on the list? Is health plan cost reduction important? How does reducing administrative burdens rank? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then it’s important to consider who is advising you on health benefits and what approach you’re taking.

Finding the right benefits advisor might seem like a daunting task. Here are five criteria to help you find a skilled consultant who understands your industry, your business, your needs, and the needs of your employees:

Industry-specific knowledge – You wouldn’t hire a divorce attorney to deal with an employment law issue. Advisors who specialize in specific industries and have a depth of knowledge about those industries can be invaluable from both a product and a process standpoint. If you work with an advisor who has no experience in staffing, expect to spend time educating them. You can also expect that advisor to manage your benefits program similarly to the way they manage their non-staffing clients, without understanding the complexities of your business. On the flip side, an advisor who has industry experience will quickly understand where you are coming from and the challenges you face. They’ll bring you best practices and ideas that have worked for their other staffing firm clients.

A creative and proactive approach – When designing a benefits strategy for your business, an excellent advisor will take all available products and measures into consideration and focus on creative ways to solve your benefits problems. Cost, complexity, compliance, recruiting/retention, and employee satisfaction must all be considered. Once your plan is implemented, a good advisor will meet with you at least once a quarter, assess what is working best and proactively identify and address plan deficiencies. They will also keep you apprised of any new programs available for your industry.

Finger on the pulse of health benefits – Does your advisor belong to industry associations so they can advise you of government regulations and industry trends? Are they well connected with carriers and other vendors, so they are exposed to new ideas and new opportunities? If an advisor has a limited viewpoint, they will be restricted in what they can offer.

Transparency, accountability and responsibility – Look for someone who is 100% transparent on their services and the fees or commissions they earn annually. Also determine what happens when an advisor makes an error, or their service is not up to standard. How do they hold themselves accountable? A good advisor’s success should depend on your success.

A true partner with outstanding staff and a great culture – Any advisor you choose becomes a valuable part of your team. Remember that they will be interfacing with your employees, helping them resolve claims issues, and guiding them on benefits. It’s vital work impacting your team members and their families’ health and finances. Do these individuals have empathy and emotional intelligence? Do they work together well and collaborate to bring clients optimal solutions?

Dig deep. Ask the advisor to describe their company culture. Find out if the people who will be assigned to your account are seasoned or not. Question their experience with claims adjudication, contract reviews, plan document reviews and compliance.

Inquire about response time. Your broker should strive to resolve your questions on the first call. At the least, you should receive an answer in 24-hours. For issues that require a bit longer to resolve, expect to hear back in 24 hours with a game plan.

Ask how your broker supports the local community with service on boards, coaching, mentoring, and supporting local charities. This may not be a critical criterion, but it does speak to the character of the agency and their willingness to give back.

If your broker/advisor meets many of these criteria, you should ask for at least two references from current clients and one reference from a terminated client.

In conclusion, staffing is a complex business. It’s important to work with someone whose goal is to continue the success of both your company and the industry at large. Employer sponsored health insurance can be equally complex. Ask your advisor tough questions to ensure they are the right fit to bring long-term plan success to your business.

Contact NJSA

New Jersey Staffing Alliance
P. O. Box 518
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
Tel: 973-283-0072
Fax: 856-727-9504

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