ATLANTA, May 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how nearly every industry conducts business these days. In the employee benefits space, voluntary benefits previously thought of as "nice to have" today are a "must have" in benefits packages. Industry veteran and chief revenue officer of Purchasing Power®, a voluntary benefit company that offers the leading employee purchase program, Mike Wilbert, predicts this shift means benefits brokers will continue to work in new ways with their clients.
"Flexibility has been key for all of us in the employee benefits industry as we address how the pandemic has changed the workplace and the people in it," says Wilbert. "Following more than a year of responding to COVID-19 challenges to employers, benefits brokers need to help their clients navigate this new world. For many, this means employers will consider adding more voluntary benefits such as financial well-being options to their offerings."
Here are the top 4 ways Wilbert predicts benefits brokers will be guiding their clients throughout this year:
Finding new ways to connect and partner with clients and prospective clients. Over time the benefits broker role has expanded beyond sales to include consultant/advisor. This past year, benefits brokers heard the rising HR challenges their clients are facing and have engaged even more deeply with them as a partner, building relationships and working together to help secure employee well-being. Benefits brokers will continue to demonstrate and deepen their value to clients this year.
Advising clients on benefits that work in our new normal. Benefits that work today are different from those of a year ago. This year benefits brokers are not only helping their clients ensure that telemedicine and expanded mental health services are included in healthcare offerings, but also are focusing on holistic employee well-being that includes financial health, along with the physical and mental considerations. Employers need to be advised about the myriad of benefit options available to meet their workers' needs.
Recommending the addition of more voluntary benefits. Adding voluntary benefits which have no budget impact for employers and allow employees to choose what is important to them is an easy way to expand workplace benefits offerings. Policies that benefits brokers are recommending this year likely will include hospital indemnity and critical illness that can be beneficial if the employee is hospitalized or diagnosed with certain critical illnesses, such as COVID-19. Due to the huge spike in identity theft and fraudulent unemployment insurance claims during the pandemic, identity theft protection is another voluntary benefit likely to be highlighted this year.
A survey of benefits brokers1 late last year revealed that over 85% of those responding were likely to recommend additional voluntary benefits to their clients to help address specific needs employees have as they continue to struggle with and overcome pandemic challenges. Critical illness insurance (81.1%), accident insurance (75.5%), employee purchase program (59.4%) and identity theft protection (57.1%) were at the top of the list for benefits brokers planning to recommend more voluntary benefits, according to the survey.
Making sure that a variety of benefits addressing employees' financial well-being are available. Financial wellness benefits have become more important in the last few years, especially as employees have said they look to their employers for help with their financial situations. Now more than ever, employees have varying financial needs, particularly the majority (78%) that are living paycheck-to-paycheck2. Benefits brokers should encourage clients to offer benefits that address different aspects of financial well-being. These can include financial counseling, bill payment programs, medical deductible financing, employee purchase programs, student loan repayment benefit programs and automatic savings programs.
Benefits brokers also have an increased role to play in assisting their clients with communicating those financial well-being benefits to their employees. A February 2021 Arizton report revealed that 35% of workers at large companies have "no clue" their employer offers benefits that include financial wellness.
"Communication has played an important part in all of our lives this past year," adds Wilbert. "We've had to learn how to navigate virtual meetings and build or keep our rapport with clients even when we can't meet face to face. Much of this year will see benefits brokers honing those skills while continuing their invaluable advisor role to guide employers to the benefits their employees need most."
About Purchasing Power, LLC Purchasing Power, LLC, is an Atlanta-based voluntary benefit company offering a leading employee purchase program for consumer products and services through payroll deduction. Helping employees achieve financial flexibility, Purchasing Power is available to millions of people through large companies including Fortune 500s, associations and government agencies. Purchasing Power is a Flexpoint Ford, LLC company. For more information, visit https://corp.purchasingpower.com/.
1 Purchasing Power online survey of 93 benefit brokers (60 brokers who sell Purchasing Power and 33 who don't sell Purchasing Power), September 2020. 2 Forbes Magazine, January 11, 2019.