Quick look: Employees have been increasingly vocal about what they expect from companies when it comes to protecting their well-being at work. And when employers fall short in meeting these demands, they’ve voluntarily walked the walk (literally) in search of new job opportunities. Therefore, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are taking a closer look at their growth strategies and have determined a vendor switch may be the next necessary step.
Workforce demands have caused companies to make significant changes in order to stay competitive. Nice-to-have benefits have turned into must-have needs. Therefore, SMB leaders must take a more holistic approach to their recruiting and retention strategies. As WTW’s latest survey illustrates, this starts with switching vendor partners in order to better match employees’ needs, particularly with regards to mental health coverage.
SMBs are assessing whether or not their current HR vendors and service partners are providing a return on investment necessary for growth. Survey says, not quite. Results concluded an overwhelming majority (88%) of employers expected to change their vendor partnerships within the next year. The survey, comprised of over 200 U.S. companies employing approximately three million workers, also explores the main reasons why companies are planning to make the switch. These insights can inform brokers of areas where they may need to make changes, too.
As employers evaluate their vendor partnerships, it presents brokers with the opportunity to demonstrate their value, leaving many looking for a competitive edge. Connecting clients with a professional employer organization (PEO) solution opens up a whole new realm of opportunities, which maximizes broker potential and solidifies client relationships. Here’s a look at what the survey statistics reveal and how brokers can proactively address them.
55% plan to make changes to their health and well-being offerings
Over the next two years, over half of survey respondents said they plan to make changes to their mental wellness offerings, a percentage which has increased significantly since 2022, when only 12% committed to changes. Specifically, 37% are considering employee mental health assistance programs and other clinical and pharmacy solutions.
Employee assistance programs (EAPs) provide a free, confidential resource to guide employees through a range of personal problems, which affect their mental health and ultimately, their job performance. Through short-term counseling and services, EAPs address issues related to stress, anxiety, grief, and depression. There’s also support for substance use disorders, mental health conditions, and trauma assistance. Brokers who work with a PEO can extend this type of offering to directly connect employees to an easily accessible solution.
42% want to change health-specific “point solutions”
In addition to the heightened focus on mental well-being, people also want affordable, convenient, and relevant healthcare. There’s been a growing emphasis on preventative health, in addition to what the survey refers to as “point solutions.” Point solutions focus on particular conditions, such as diabetes and fertility issues, with a more in-depth scope of care and services than general health and well-being programs provide.
With the rising costs of traditional health plans, employees are often left paying for benefits which don’t cover their specific conditions. Rather than implementing a one-size-fits-all plan, guiding SMB employers toward personalized benefits speaks to the diverse needs of today’s workforce. This provides an optimal employee experience, which helps to maximize recruiting and retention efforts.
43% want to change their digital platforms and health information portals
How benefits are communicated is nearly as important as the benefits themselves. People are increasingly leaning toward a digital environment, and vendors must keep pace with advanced technology to keep clients and their employees engaged. Digital platforms allow employees to access and update information from anywhere, at their own convenience. This availability has become critical in order to stay connected, particularly due to the rise in distributed workforces.
Additionally, 40% of employers want to enhance their navigation and advocacy programs. Without the right communication strategy, the best benefits often go unused and unappreciated. Healthcare is a complex undertaking, which requires guidance to simplify the enrollment process, benefit plan explanation, and ongoing services. Otherwise, employees become unaware about the full scope of what their benefit plans provide and are unable to see their true value.
PEOs give brokers the competitive edge
Employers want to keep their programs and benefits fresh and engaging as part of a larger recruiting and retention strategy. When their health and benefit vendor isn’t working, they’ve begun to look elsewhere for results. They are looking for greater levels of participation, accountability, and results. Therefore, brokers are looking for innovative ways to expand their service offerings to reinforce their impact.
Connecting SMB clients with a PEO solution can give brokers the upper hand. It automatically expands the level of resources and solutions available, bridging the gap businesses are wanting to fill. A PEO provides a comprehensive suite of HR services, including payroll, benefits, and recruiting, as well as risk and compliance management. However, there are differences to consider.
Big-box PEOs don’t have the time or bandwidth to tailor services, which leaves SMBs feeling lackluster about vendor performance. Whereas, a PEO like ExtensisHR provides personalized solutions, applicable to individual business strategies. We equip brokers with premium benefit plans at affordable prices for their SMB clients. We also stay current on workplace trends and government regulations, allowing for flexibility and adaptability as companies grow.
Additionally, with a dedicated in-house service team and Work Anywhere® platform, our customer service model is designed to help SMBs evolve and grow. Our proprietary HR technology provides access to employee analytics to drive future actions. This includes a focus on recruiting, retention, and performance through workflow consolidation, synchronized goals, improved cost management, and more.
With employers wanting more from health and benefit vendors, we support broker-client relationships through a person-to-person approach as well as measurable results. Our team of HR experts take pride in all of our partnerships and work diligently to uphold our reputation of success. Learn how we can benefit you.