Employers bending over backwards to give employees benefits that will earn their loyalty is nothing new. It is a decades-old practice that will continue for the foreseeable future. However, there is a growing emphasis on personalization these days. That seems fitting. Personalized benefits are a perfect fit for the on-demand culture in which we now live.
Thanks to the internet, cell phones, and a long list of digital technologies previous generations would have been amazed by, we are used to getting what we want when we want it. Food delivery is just a couple of taps of the phone away. We can shop online in the middle of the night and have packages delivered right to our doors. And just about every service we utilize can be customized to our unique needs. So why not do the same with benefits?
A New World for Brokers
Benefits Pro recently published an article on this very topic. Their focus was on benefits brokers and the things they should know about personalizing employee benefits. Needless to say that it’s a whole new world for them. It is a world that some will navigate better than others.
Traditionally, benefits brokers have put most of their attention into group benefits packages. They have worked with general agencies like BenefitMall to come up with health insurance plans and retirement packages offered on the group concept. But the problem with group benefits is that they are highly inflexible. This is becoming a problem at a time when the workforce is no longer content with the way things have been done for so long.
Benefits Pro contends, and BenefitMall agrees, that carriers are naturally averse to benefit personalization because it introduces increasing levels of risk. Think of it in terms of health insurance. People who avail themselves of medical services frequently are more likely to want health insurance then those who rarely see the doctor. So any sort of personalization that encourages sick people to sign up for insurance forces carriers to take on more risk.
As for brokers, they are now discovering there is a fine line between offering the types of personalized benefits employees will appreciate and keeping carriers happy enough to continue having access to their products. It is not an easy task on even the best days.
There Is a Path Forward
Health insurance and retirement plans are not going to change. They are what they are: programs that rely on the group model to succeed. Yet the need for personalized benefits does not look like it is going anywhere, either. The good news is that there is a path forward.
Benefits brokers should continue to work with general agencies and carriers to come up with the best possible health and retirement plans. Personalization can be achieved via two other means: voluntary benefits and lifestyle accounts.
Voluntary benefits include things like life insurance, long term disability coverage, and even pet insurance. As for lifestyle accounts, there are separate financial accounts into which an employer …