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Perhaps the best way to make progress is to ask questions. A few years ago, I gave a presentation at the BenefitsPRO Broker Expo on the importance of asking questions before trying to come up with improvements or innovations. Of course, you also need to decide who will provide answers. Customers are a great source of answers, as are team members who directly provide services to those customers. So are experts in the business. However, while asking questions of each audience, remember they may tell you what they want, rather than what they need.

Early in the year is the right time to consider the important questions about employee benefits we should be asking. That’s the only way our organizations will make progress on the most important items during the year. Here are a few from my list. Think about them and add your own. Decide what is most crucial for your customers and then start realizing your opportunities.

First, there are lots of questions about government regulations. Is the government going to create mandates that remove employer discretion on design and funding of certain benefit-related areas? For example, there is obviously a lot of talk about “universal health care” of some kind. This is likely to continue as a debate for some time, but it may result in a significant disruption of what many employers consider to be their most important benefit — their medical plan. If this happens, will it reduce the ability of employers to compete via better health plan benefits? How do employers and their advisors gain a competitive edge if they have little or no incentive to design and manage more favorable health benefit programs than competitors?

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