If you had to choose the single most important element of administering employee benefits in the modern era, what would it be? Dallas-based general agency BenefitMall suggests it might very well be communication. Effective communications between brokers, employers, employees, and carriers can make or break everything.
BenefitMall also says that technology has changed the way brokers communicate with their clients. They should know. As a general agency, BenefitMall has thousands of brokers working under its umbrella. The company is constantly urging brokers to embrace the digital transformation, especially due to its ability to streamline communications.
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The Flow of Information
Communicating in the benefits realm begins with how information is disseminated. There is this constant flow of information between carrier and general agency, general agency and broker, and broker and client. In terms of the broker-client relationship, it generally includes brokers communicating directly with employees on behalf of their employers.
The thing is that communication is improved when information flows back and forth freely. But do not assume that facilitating the free flow of information automatically means email. It doesn’t.
Email Has Its Place
Email certainly has its place in the business world. But consider this: it has been estimated that the average office worker gets more than 120 emails per day. How many of those emails are necessary? How many of them are actually read in detail?
If you are like most of us, you could certainly handle getting fewer emails per day. You probably don’t relish getting a reminder email every day during open enrollment. What if there were a better way? There is.
The Benefits Portal
An alternative to email is the benefits portal. This is an online environment usually established by a broker or general agency. Both employers and their employees can log on to their individual accounts for everything related to benefits. Here is a small sampling of what is available through an online portal:
- Open Enrollment – Brokers and employers are increasingly moving open enrollment to online portals. Employees can get all the information they need online and make their selections at the same time.
- Modification Requests – When employees need to modify their benefits, they can do so online. they no longer need to send an email to HR in hopes of getting a response.
- Benefits Information – An online portal can act as the education center for all things benefits-related. Videos, FAQs, and other resources can be leveraged in an online environment to educate employees about their benefits.
- Communication Automation – Online portals equipped with automation tools can streamline communications by making sure they only go to necessary parties. For example, a person who has already completed open enrollment no longer receives notifications about it.
Broker assistance is another benefit of the online portal. Brokers can communicate online with general agencies or carriers – in many cases, using the exact same portals they make available to employees.
Online communications through a portal gets messages directly to the people who need to respond to them. And just like brokers can educate employers and employees online, carriers and general agencies can do the same thing for brokers. Their portals can host all the information brokers need to succeed.
Faster and More Efficient
Communication’s role in modern benefits administration hasn’t changed. What has changed is the means by which people and organizations communicate. By moving to the online portal, communicating is faster and more efficient up and down the line.
Are you a broker or HR professional who struggles with communication in the employee benefits realm? If so, maybe your struggles are related to how you choose to communicate. Think about it.