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Staying Ahead of the Next Big Benefit

Two employees reviewing benefits strategy paperwork

Quick look: In today’s job market, not just any benefits strategy will do. To compete for and retain top talent, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need a robust benefit offering that’s tailored to and effectively communicated to their diverse workforce. Here’s how brokers can help their clients achieve this by aligning them with the right professional employer organization (PEO).

In an ever-competitive job market, SMB clients need employee benefits with a wow factor to attract and retain top talent. With so much at stake, only focusing on benefit offerings during open enrollment season isn’t enough. To beat out their competition, SMBs must keep a pulse on the industry and provide the most relevant benefits to their workforce at a great rate.

Brokers can help their clients achieve this by leveraging the HR experts at a PEO company, who monitor industry trends, as well as local and national offerings, so they know which benefits are emerging as being important for the future. Here’s how to help SMBs develop a proactive benefits strategy by staying on top of current benefits trends, tailoring solutions to their workforce, and receiving individualized support.

The changing benefits landscape

Employees’ needs, wants, and expectations are constantly in flux, and it’s become difficult for some clients to offer a benefits package that meets these new unique requirements. At the same time, the usage of benefits has spiked – nearly half of employees purchased a new benefit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it comes to what employees want, personalization is key, and 80% of employers say that meeting the needs of their workers across all life stages and backgrounds is a key objective. The workforce’s most desired benefits reflect this, and include:

How clients can stay ahead of the curve

Offering the right benefits, to the right people, at the right time, is a pillar of success for SMBs. According to MetLife’s 2022 Employee Benefits Trends report, employees are 1.6x more likely to stay with their employer if they’re satisfied with their benefits. And in industries where salaries are comparable, a robust benefits package can give your clients a competitive edge when recruiting top talent. Here’s how brokers can leverage their PEO partnership to help clients stay competitive and grow their business.

Tailor benefits packages

People expect personalization in nearly every aspect of their lives – from their food orders to their entertainment streaming – and their benefits should be no exception.

To experience the best return on investment from their benefit offerings, your clients should proactively prepare for changes, stay on top of industry trends, and ensure their benefit package includes offerings for each employee demographic. Many SMB leaders choose to offload this work to a PEO to save time, simplify the process, and lean on the PEO’s institutional knowledge.

So, what does each generation want? According to digital engagement and communication technology firm Evive, some of the most-desired benefits for each generation include:

  • Baby Boomers: Identity theft protection, flexible hours, financial planning, and fitness perks
  • Generation X: Flexible hours, fitness perks, student loan assistance, and financial planning
  • Millennials: Flexible hours, fitness perks, student loan assistance, and tuition reimbursement
  • Generation Z: Student loan assistance, financial planning, and employee assistance programs (EAPs)

Increase (and customize) communications

Benefit offerings are more important than ever – but the uptick in remote work has made it difficult for SMB leaders to effectively communicate benefit news to employees. Honing a benefit communication strategy is crucial, though – fully understanding their available benefits may convince an employee to stay or persuade a top candidate to accept a job offer.

Unfortunately, 62% of U.S. workers say they only have a basic understanding of their healthcare options and benefits, and traditional benefits communications that share an enormous amount of information within a short period of can overwhelm employees. Similarly, even when employers implement a successful communications strategy during open enrollment season, once this period ends outreach tends to drop off. This can leave employees confused and frustrated.

Your clients should establish a communication schedule that shares benefits information regularly in small chunks throughout the year, which can help inform employees, boost engagement, and potentially retain more employees. A PEO can plan, prepare, and proactively send a variety of communications to your clients, including:

  • Details about benefit features, updates, and providers, which allows for a seamless Open Enrollment benefits selection process
  • Timely alerts about the everchanging legislative and regulatory environment
  • Best practices and guidance about the most appropriate ways to address current HR issues and trends
  • General information about programs, strategies, and resources to help clients and their employees succeed

Prioritize two-way communication

Successful communication is a two-way process, and your clients should focus on the employee’s perspective. When employees don’t understand a benefit, they tend to ignore it, and many employers respond to that confusion by sending even more (potentially overwhelming) information. However, it’s important for clients to listen and give employees the chance to provide feedback and ask questions.

There are several ways to gather feedback. SMB leaders can issue an in-depth questionnaire, a quick employee net promoter score (ENPS) survey, or a single-question poll at a company-wide meeting. Regardless of the method, the insight feedback provides is invaluable and sheds light on what clients should consider as they develop their benefits strategy. For example, if the data reveals that one benefit has low enrollment not because employees aren’t aware of it, but because they don’t desire it, it may be time to consider replacing it with a more attractive option.

Lean on the support of experts

More than ever, SMB leaders need a professional, dedicated HR sounding board. A PEO can provide that. A PEO, like ExtensisHR, has a team of in-house experts to provide clients with unbiased guidance as they develop their benefits strategy. They also offer access to premium benefits at competitive prices, and keep track of enrollment, IRS and state regulations, employee monitoring, and more.

A proactive benefits strategy made simple

Brokers can show their clients they care about their benefits strategy by connecting them with a PEO that has the technology, resources, and expertise to simplify administration, compliance, and support.

The experts at a PEO take on the brunt of the work and stay on top of all current benefit trends, tailor solutions to your client’s workforce, and provide dedicated support and unbiased guidance. During a turbulent labor market, giving clients the gift of desirable, competitively priced benefits could be just what you need to grow your book of business.

ExtensisHR administers and manages Fortune 500-level benefits, and its unrivaled customer service means a dedicated HR manager is always a simple call, email, or chat away. Benefits include:

  • Medical, dental, and vision coverage
  • 401(K) retirement plans
  • Student loan assistance programs
  • Pet insurance coverage
  • Family-building support
  • Mental health support including EAP and meditation app access
  • And more

Ready to help your clients stay ahead of the next big benefit? The experts at ExtensisHR are here to chat.

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