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I have a front-row seat to theevolution of benefits communications happening in the broker space.Here are five thoughts on how to become even more valuable to yourclients next year, based on some of the communication trends I sawfirsthand in 2018.

1. Bump HSA education up your priority list

Here are two not-so-funfacts:

  1. 65 percent of employees stilldon't understand how HSAs work
  2. In 2017, 40 percent ofHSA-eligible employees never opened their account

When understanding and usage arethis low, employees miss out on significant tax savings, and yourclients miss out on potential payroll tax savings, typically to thetune of nearly 20 percent.

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If you provide these clients witha benefits communication tool that helps drive HSA enrollment and contributions, you can helpput that lost money back into their pockets and remind them howincredibly smart and helpful you are.

2. Don't hesitate to offer your sub-100 groups benefitscommunication software

Once upon a time, onlydeep-pocketed enterprise companies could afford digital benefitscommunication tools. But in the past few years,vendors have begun offering products priced for companies withfewer than 100 EEs, and tailored them to those companies'needs.

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So, is setting up a softwaresolution for an SMB client worth it? Isn't the face-to-face TLC youprovide during onsite benefits meetings enough?

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Okay, that was actually twoquestions, but the answer is: It's totally worth it.

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Even when you have a small,attentive crowd and heaps of time slotted for Q&A afterwards,benefits meetings aren't the best way to explain benefits topicsand help employees make benefits decisions. No matter how greatyour PowerPoint is, employees are still going to come to you andyour HR partners and say, “Great presentation, but what's the bestplan for me?”For most brokers and HR teams, answering that question over andover again (and answering it well), is daunting.

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Benefits communication software,on the other hand, can easily provide reliable, data-driven,customized answers to that question, relieving that particularburden for the HR teams at small companies—which are often a teamof one.

3. Ask all the vendors you work with tohelp cover your benefits technology costs

Insurance carriers are oftenwilling to offer brokers technology, communication or marketingcredits (payable either in a lump sum or monthly installments) tohelp offset—if not completely cover—the cost of new benefits communications technology.

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So what do the savviest brokers Iknow do? Ask every single carrier they work with to pitchin—medical, dental, vision, life, disability, accident, criticalillness… the works. Sure, they might say no. But since it's intheir best interest to support an investment in better benefitscommunication that's going to educate more employees about theirproducts (and possibly boost enrollment), they will typically playball.

4. Better benefits communication technology could help yousell more voluntary benefits

By definition, voluntary benefitsare “nice-to-haves,” not “need-to-haves.” So it's understandablethat many employees are still in the habit of glossing over themduring open enrollment.  

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Better benefits communicationtechnology can show those employees the true value of voluntary benefits, giving them just the nudgethey need to enroll for the first time.

5. Make time in Q1 to evaluate a wide range of benefitscommunication platforms

By my count, there are more than30 digital benefits communications solutions on the market, butmost brokers are familiar with very few, if any.

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As you're reviewing your clients'situations in the first few months of next year, make note of wherethey could use the most technology help, then seek out productdemos in those areas to get acquainted with the space. Just an houra week can go a long way. Also, the insider expertise you'lldevelop will give you a leg up on your competition in new businesspitches.

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Chad Schneider isdirector of channel sales atJellyvision, maker of ALEX, an interactive benefits communication softwareused by more than 1,200 companies with more than 18 millionemployees in total.

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