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The Complete Guide to Hiring the Right Benefits Broker

Are you looking to hire an employee benefits broker and don’t know where to start? Or have you had the same broker for a while and are now wondering whether you could do better? Picking the right benefits broker is challenging, especially because the right partner can have an enormous impact on your employees and your bottom-line.

You want to work with a company that is not just your benefits broker, but your trusted benefits advisor. Especially at growing companies, having expert third-party help is essential to keeping your costs low and your value-add for employees high. The right benefits broker will not just sell you on a benefits package and then leave you to figure out the rest. They will be an HR and Benefits specialist who can help you navigate the entire benefits process and keep your benefit offerings up-to-date and competitive.

But the stakes are high, and there’s so much to consider – how do you even get started? Well, luckily this guide is here to help you. We will examine why it’s important to pick the right broker, and when to hire a new broker before diving into what you should be looking for in a broker, including that they provide:

  • Modern benefits that appeal to your workforce
  • Cutting-edge benefits technology
  • Cost savings
  • Comprehensive employee education

Looking for a Better Benefits Broker: Why and When to Start

Before we dive into what you should be looking for in a benefits broker, let’s examine the reasons why it is important to choose the right broker and when to start looking for a better partner.

Why You Should be Picky About Your Benefits Broker

Your benefits broker’s performance will have an enormous impact on your benefits package’s ability to draw top talent to your company, encourage your existing employees to deliver their best work, and keep employees around for the long-haul. These are just some of the reasons why it’s important to pick the right benefits broker, but let’s look at some specifics.

On a purely numbers level, benefits are a big deal. Benefits spend is a large part of your overall budget, making up 25-40% of most companies’ payroll. The right partner will help you minimize those expenses while maximizing the return-on-investment.

But benefits are never all about numbers; they are ultimately about people. Your benefits package is one of the most important parts of your employees’ total compensation package and is meant to help your employees live a higher quality of life. Your benefits broker should help you craft a package that meets those needs for the well-being of your employees and your company. Benefits that are tailored to take care of your employees will strengthen your company culture and can mean the difference between attracting and retaining top talent that drives your company’s growth or watching your best people leave for better offers. Your employees are responsible for your company’s success, so it’s important to make sure that they are properly taken care of.

So, when building or updating your benefits package, you need a benefits broker who will help you balance your budget and your employee’s needs. Which is why it is important to be choosy when hiring a benefits broker, and not just stay with the same broker because that’s what you’ve done in the past. But when is the right time to make a change?

When to Shop for a New Employee Benefits Broker

Many companies overlook the importance of taking a proactive approach to benefits, frequently staying with the same benefits broker for years out of habit. That means that employers fall out of touch with the newest benefits trends, losing the ability to properly evaluate whether or not their current broker is providing them with the best possible service. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep yourself apprised of what’s what in the benefits world so that you can tell when your benefits broker may be underserving your business.

The decision of what kind of benefits broker you are looking for, and whether your current broker meets that description, should be based on a comprehensive review of your company’s mission/vision, culture, short and long-term goals, and business strategy. You want a benefits broker that will support each of those elements and help you achieve sustainable growth.

So, the reasons why you may want to look for a new benefits broker will depend on your unique business needs. That being said, there are some clear signs that it’s time for a new broker that any business can look out for, including:

  • Continuing to pay the same fees while retaining more or less the same benefits package year-over-year
  • Receiving limited guidance and/or a poor service level from the broker
  • Going several years without reexamining the broker relationship
  • Difficulty finding ROI to justify investment in your current broker

Your business and its needs are constantly changing and so is the benefits marketplace. If you haven’t updated your benefits offering in quite some time, chances are that you can do better for your employees and your bottom line by looking for a new benefits partner.

How to Pick the Right Employee Benefits Broker

Now you know why you should take a proactive approach to your relationship with your benefits broker and what to look out for when deciding whether or not to look for a new broker. But how do you know which benefits broker is right for you, once you’ve decided that your current one isn’t meeting your needs?

Modern Benefits

The last thing you want is a broker who doesn’t stick with the times and strive to deliver cutting-edge, high-impact benefits options. Looking for a broker who can craft modern benefits packages will not only help you compete in today’s market, and offer benefits that even appeal to Millennial talent, it will also help you find a broker that you can trust long-term. If a broker is keeping up with the latest and greatest now, odds are that they will continue to do so. On the other hand, ff they’re already behind the times, chances are they’ll just continue to fall behind.

What kind of benefits should the ideal broker help you navigate? Some hot-topic benefits to ask about are telemedicine, financial wellness, remote work, and other flexible work benefits that will help you compete in the digital age. Again, even if these benefits aren’t the right fit for your company now, they might be in the future and a broker who has expertise in building diverse benefits packages will likely offer other cutting-edge solutions that you can use.

Another increasingly popular option that the ideal benefits broker will be able to offer is wellness benefits. These benefits help prevent lifestyle-related healthcare costs while increasing employee engagement and quality-of-life. Think of subsidized gym memberships, weight-loss or smoking-cessation challenges, access to a nutritionist, financial planning, employee assistance programs, and more. There are so many wellness benefits that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The right broker will help you find the benefits that address your employees’ specific challenges.

Benefits Technology

Technology is an all-too-often overlooked aspect of what sets a great benefits brokers apart. Software is what makes the world run nowadays, and benefits are no different.

Benefits technology makes navigating your benefits package easier for your HR team and your employees. The ideal broker will offer a benefits portal that makes reviewing and managing your benefits package in one central location a breeze. This makes it easier for you to plan your benefits strategy and for your employees to take full advantage of your offerings. It’s perhaps even more important that your benefits broker provides you with enrollment software to ease the annual headache that is open-enrollment. Getting employees enrolled in benefits is one of the hardest parts of the job as an HR professional, and a streamlined software solution can make open enrollment as painless as possible for both your HR team and then rest of your employees.

Cost Savings

Of course, one of the main reasons to hire a benefits broker is to minimize your benefits costs while maximizing your package’s impact on your employees. That’s why it’s a good idea to hire a benefits broker who will also serve as your benefits consultant or employee benefits advisor, helping you craft a strategy that meets your goals and needs.

One of the main ways that brokers can help you develop your benefits strategy is through data collection. They can provide third-party health risk assessments (HRAs) and employee surveys to establish demonstrated employee needs. That information enables you to craft a strategic benefits plan that keeps costs low while increasing the benefits that matter most to your employees.

Another cost-saving offering to look out for is a tiered health plan structure. These health insurance packages allow employees to manage their health expenses, keeping your costs low while making sure that employees get the coverage they need. Young and healthy employees to take on low-premium, high-deductible plans paired with HSAs to keep their upfront costs low, while employees with families or health risks can opt-in to more comprehensive plans.

Health savings don’t stop at the plan level, either. The right benefits broker will help you reduce your prescription drug spend while making sure that your employees get the medications they need. Drug formularies can guide employees towards lower-cost, preapproved medications and away from expensive alternatives. When necessary, benefits brokers can also help you impose limited restrictions such as requiring employees to try generic drugs before covering name-brand equivalents. And some brokers will help you cut costs across the board by offering a prescription savings card as an added benefit for your employees. These cards can help employees save up to 80% on most medications.

Education

Your financial investment into your benefits strategy isn’t worth a whole lot if your employees don’t understand the benefits offered to them.

Your benefits broker can help you provide your employees with the tools they need to decrease their medical expenses and increase their wellness to minimize days off and maximize productivity. But if your broker doesn’t also help you educate your employees about those options then your employees won’t take advantage of them. As a result, you won’t see those savings that the broker promised when you when you hired them.

Even by itself, education has a huge impact on your bottom line and employee welfare. According to a McKinsey survey, engaged healthcare consumers spend one-third as much as passive consumers. That means that having a benefits broker who helps you educate and engage your employees can lead to massive savings for your employees and your company. Plus, helping your employees become educated, intelligent benefits consumers will allow them to better understand their own needs.

At the same time, you’re investing a huge amount of money into employee benefits to reward and engage your employees so that they are productive, loyal, long-term members of your team. You want to make sure that they understand all of the benefits that you are offering them and all of the perks that make your benefits package stand out.

Choosing the Right Employee Benefits Broker: Key Takeaways

We’ve covered a lot in this guide, so let’s take a moment to go over the key points that you should keep in mind when hiring a benefits broker:

  • Benefits are a major expense and a significant investment in your human capital, so it’s important to work with the right broker for your organization
  • Don’t simply stay with the same benefits broker for years without reexamining the relationship, and be on the lookout for signs that your broker isn’t keeping up with the latest benefits trends
  • Look for a broker who offers and has expertise in modern benefits such as telemedicine and wellness benefits
  • Ensure your broker offers software solutions for benefits management and enrollment
  • See what the benefits broker can do to help you build a benefits strategy and proactively manage your benefits costs
  • Work with brokers who will help you educate your employees so that they can take advantage of their benefits, fully appreciate the package you offer, and become smarter healthcare consumers
Are you a CFO in Charge of HR? What You Need to Know

Are you a CFO in Charge of HR? What You Need to Know

As a CFO, your job isn’t easy even at the best of times. You’re responsible for managing the company’s financial health, capital investments, and return on those investments. And as if that wasn’t enough, many modern CFOs have now been given ownership over their company’s HR.

This change can be particularly difficult because as a CFO, you’re probably a numbers person – now you’re supposed to be people person too? You may well be wondering how you’re going to juggle it all.

The good news is that, with the right approach, managing HR as a CFO can be extremely rewarding and empowering. You get to guide the financial and people side of your business, coordinating the two to maximize your company’s growth. That’s a pretty good position to find yourself in, as long as you know how to handle it.

Launchways recently hosted a webinar that covers some of the most common issues CFOs face while managing HR. In today’s blog post, we’ll cover some of the main points that were discussed on the webinar. In this post we’ll cover:

  • Aligning business strategy with HR strategy
  • Owning and leveraging company culture
  • Examining HR processes
  • Identifying key HR metrics to track and evaluate

Align Business Strategy & HR Strategy

The two main uses of a company’s capital are technology and people. As a CFO who is also responsible for managing HR, you get to guide the success of your investments in human capital. Instead of seeing your hybrid role as an irritating added responsibility, you can see it as an opportunity for greater control over your company’s growth and financial health. You get to use your financial expertise and familiarity with the company’s business strategy to maximize the return on investment in your company’s people.

The best way to do this is to align the HR strategy with the business strategy so that all parts of the company are working in sync towards the company’s goals. That doesn’t just mean approaching HR from a finance perspective, though. For the best results, you must aim to see things from an HR perspective.

It’s important to bring in the right people and to make sure that they stick around for the long-haul. At the same time, cross-department alignment is critical. Every department needs to be aligned with each other and with the company’s goals so that the company can work as efficiently and productively as possible.

Many companies dismiss the impact that HR can have on their growth and continued success. They underestimate the cost of turnover and so under-invest in their people. But the fact of the matter is that talent acquisition, development, and retention are critical to a company’s long-term success. And as a CFO in charge of HR, you have control over these processes.

Build and Maintain Your Company Culture

Company culture is one of the main drivers of employee acquisition, productivity, and retention. A culture based on the company’s mission/vision and in-line with business strategy motivates exceptional employee performance. Employees who are driven by the company mission are not just contributing to a company’s profits in exchange for a salary, they are part of a greater community working towards higher goals.

That matters because providing meaningful work is one of the main challenges that companies face in today’s market. The truth of the matter is that a good salary and benefits package isn’t enough to keep employees around anymore, and as a result, turnover rates continue to increase year over year. By creating an intentional culture that is genuinely integrated into company operations, you can solve many of your HR challenges and reduce talent-related expenses.

When it comes to company culture, you need to establish a strong foundation that will set you up for future success. Mistakes early-on will lead to bigger problems down the road, so it really is worth taking the time to get your company culture right. That’s especially true for growing companies since maintaining a focused and effective culture and strategy gets harder as companies scale. Not taking the time to get things right while you’re still small can come back to bite you as you grow.

You want your team to be aligned with your vision, driven by your values, and focused on your core objectives. The first step to accomplishing that is deciding what your values are and how you can express them in your company culture. After that, you should establish an excellent team of key management-level employees who will direct how that culture will become part of the lived reality for their departments or teams. Then make sure that all of your managers are dedicated to the company’s mission/vision and driven by your culture, objectives, and career progression.

Examine HR Processes

Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of how your company operates. In order to effectively guide your company’s HR, you need to understand how the processes in place work and start to mold those processes to support the company’s business strategy.

The first step is to conduct an audit of your HR situation. Take a look at what the current HR processes are and who owns what responsibilities. Examine workflows and interview key employees to get a sense of the current state of affairs. Then, think about what works and what can be changed to establish an effective and sustainable workflow.

The next step is to look at your own responsibilities as the company’s “HR generalist”. Generally speaking, these are:

  • Human capital decisions: who to hire, promote, or fire.
  • Day-to-day people operations: ensuring individuals, teams, and departments are operating smoothly and working together towards the company’s goals.
  • Compliance: making sure that your company is following labor rules & laws regarding fair labor standards, anti-discrimination, sexual harassment and more.
  • Payroll: managing employee salaries, adding new employee files and editing existing files, complying with tax laws.

When examining these responsibilities, it’s a good idea to think about what you can handle yourself, what you can delegate, and what you can outsource to third-party providers. You want to establish a sustainable HR approach that leaves you with enough time and energy to manage your more traditional CFO responsibilities. Think of your managers as allies in establishing and maintaining effective HR processes in addition to the company’s HR professionals.

Once you’ve established your HR processes, it’s time to figure out how to track and evaluate HR performance.

Key HR Metrics to Evaluate

Identifying key HR metrics can be a huge asset when evaluating your current HR situation and future HR performance. That way you can make your human capital decisions backed by concrete data and clear trends. You should look for metrics that you can use to measure performance on the individual, team, department, and company level.

Starting with the broad-strokes metrics, you can establish departmental KPI’s and objectives to track performance between departments. These metrics should help you answer the question of which departments are performing better than others, and why. You also can and should track turnover rates on the company, department, and manager level to measure employee engagement and avoid the costs associated with turnover.

Ultimately, the most important metrics for planning and evaluating your HR initiatives and processes occur on the individual level. After all, HR is about building, maintaining, and leveraging the company’s people power – which is made up of individual contributions. That means that some of the most useful metrics to look at include employee engagement, employee happiness, and cultural health. These may seem difficult to measure, but you can collect invaluable data by gathering employee feedback.

Learn More About Managing HR as a CFO

In this article, we’ve covered several of the basics of effectively managing your HR responsibilities as a CFO, including:

  • How and why you should align business strategy and HR strategy
  • Building and maintaining an effective and sustainable company culture
  • Evaluating and establishing HR processes
  • Identifying key metrics that will allow you to plan and measure the success of your HR initiatives

There’s a lot more to learn about becoming an effective HR leader as a CFO, though. That’s why we put together a webinar that covers many of the key aspects of managing HR as a CFO. Learn what webinar panelists Dan Gloede, President and CFO of Codeverse, Jim Taylor, Founder and CEO of Launchways, and George Nissan, Director of Finance at BenchPrep have to say about what they’ve learned about guiding HR as a CFO.

DOWNLOAD THE COMPLETE WEBINAR AND WATCH INSTANTLY HERE.

Why Data-Driven HR is More Important Now Than Ever Before

Why Data-Driven HR is More Important Now Than Ever Before

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that April 2019 marked the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years and that year-over-year average hourly earnings have risen at or above 3% for nine straight months.

While that’s good news for the U.S. economy, as an HR professional you know both decreasing unemployment and increasing wages affect your ability to recruit and retain talent.

Just as customer experience is driving brand loyalty, employee experience – their perception of the way your organization treats them – will become the employment differentiator in an increasingly competitive market for talent. If your HR team hasn’t prioritized technology that collects then analyzes employee data, how will you understand what your differentiators are? 

The technology already exists to help you analyze your workforce and plan for future needs. However, HR has been slower than other areas of a business to adapt to the digital age.

A KPMG survey of 1,200 HR executives found

  • Two-thirds agree HR has undergone or is undergoing a digital transformation, but only 40% have a digital work plan in place at the enterprise or HR level
  • HR execs who believe HR has a strategic role in their business are more likely to be pursuing digital transformation; 67% support a strategic role compared to 48% who view the HR role as unchanged

There are many reasons you should use data and analytics in HR. In this post we’ll discuss a few reasons that will help you make the decision to invest time and resources in the technology you need.

  • Become more analytical. To be taken seriously as an HR pro, have conversations around data and look at initiatives analytically.
  • Build a business case for HR initiatives. Data-driven HR will allow you to build a business case for initiatives and get the budget you need approved.
  • Keep your job. As more HR tasks are automated, becoming an expert on understanding and using HR analytics will increase your value as a team member.

Use HR data to become more analytical — and be taken seriously

A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found 77% of CEOs believe the limited availability of skilled workers is the single biggest threat to their business. They feel pressure to find and retain talent. It seems counterintuitive, then, that HR doesn’t always have a seat at the leadership table.

Often that’s because there is the perception that because HR is people-focused, HR professionals make critical decisions based on relationships or personal experience rather than facts. As an HR professional, you must lead your organization to adapt HR processes that are tech-driven to assure leadership that your recommendations are based on data, not intuition.

And, if you’re still focused on reporting the same tired statistics such as how many employees you have and cost of compensation and benefits, it’s time to step up and report more meaningful information. With the right technology, HR can glean more meaningful insights from the information you already have. Some experts refer to this as “people analytics.”

“Headcount, turnover, and tenure are helpful metrics, but people analytics are really about uncovering more meaningful insights that drive better workforce decisions, productivity, and business outcomes,” Paylocity’s Ted Gaty noted.

Data Builds the Business Case for HR Initiatives

Sales and marketing professionals collect and analyze data about customers, then make decisions based on what they find. So why should the approach be any different for your organization’s most valuable resource – talent?

You likely have the data you need already: you just need the tools and training to analyze the information in ways that tell what’s happening now and help you build a competitive talent strategy for the future.

As an HR professional, you need to integrate data into processes so you can collaborate better with your organization’s leadership to make better business decisions. To get resources allocated to HR, focus on how HR can deliver new value for the organization.

For example, data can aid in making decisions about the right time to hire by compiling all of the costs that go into recruiting and retaining each position, beyond just salary and benefits costs.

Your organization’s leadership may only take a critical look at culture and retention when there is a crisis, such as a huge upset when a key employee unexpectedly quits. Educate them that data analytics can track slow-moving trends that warn of potential problems. With constant monitoring, you can collect data – then act on it.

After initiatives are implemented, use data to prove Return on Investment by showcasing positive changes in key people metrics.

Keep Your Job

HR tasks that once were paper-based transactions are becoming increasingly automated. Technology has automated everything from payroll to recruitment and performance reviews, and new HR tech to tackle more tasks is being developed every day.

Rather than seeing technology as a threat to your role, view the digital transformation of HR as a way to provide you with more time for higher-level strategic tasks. Show the importance of your role by becoming your organization’s expert on analyzing HR data as it relates to overall strategic goals.

In this way, being a data-driven HR person will allow you to contribute more to your organization’s leadership team. But you must act decisively rather than standing back and watching what other organizations are doing.

Understanding what your data means will help you to forecast the future and make intelligent decisions about talent needs that propel goals for revenue growth.

We agree with Paylocity’s Ted Gaty: “There’s a lot of data out there about your workforce and if you can take that data and make use of it with advanced analytics, then you will start to optimize your workforce and design programs that improve key HR metrics.”

Don’t Miss Our Webinar

Now that you understand why you should be collecting and analyzing HR data want to learn more about using this resource? Sign up for Launchway’s webinar “How to Build an HR Business Case: The Modern HR Leader’s Complete Guide to Metrics, Analytics, and Proving ROI.”

Launchways Welcomes New Client Rocketmiles

Launchways, a leading provider of human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance solutions for growing businesses, today announced it has added Rocketmiles as a client.

Rocketmiles has selected Launchways to review their plan performance and provide a comprehensive benefits educational experience for its employees. When asked why Rocketmiles decided to work with Launchways Gautam Kumar, Rocketmiles CFO, said “We chose to work with Launchways because of their ability to provide valuable insights into our plan performance and educate our employees to help them move to more affordable plans that met their specific needs. We also needed to streamline our enrollment process, and Launchways’ experience as a benefits broker enabled them to make open enrollment as painless as possible. We are confident that Launchways will continue to empower us to reduce costs while providing added value to our employees.”

Gary Schafer, Launchways President, noted “Rocketmiles is a fast-growing, Chicago-based company that understands that its employees are the basis of its success. They are the perfect candidate for Launchways’ services, and we are excited to work with them to provide clear and comprehensive benefits while reducing overall costs so that they can continue thrive as they grow.”

The Launchways team conducted a comprehensive review of Rocketmiles plan performance to identify opportunities for optimization. Based on this analysis, Launchways experts educated Rocketmiles employees to empower them to choose the plans that work best for them, saving both Rocketmiles and its employees money while increasing the quality of coverage. Using some of these savings, Rocketmiles was able to offer its employees strong new vision benefits to satisfy employee need. Launchways also streamlined the open enrollment process by creating a digital enrollment form and giving a formal open enrollment presentation to ease the enrollment experience for employees and Rocketmiles alike.

About Launchways

Launchways provides business leaders with the resources and guidance they need to build scalable people processes to support long-term growth. Founded in 2009, Launchways has helped thousands of businesses better approach the people side of their business through strategic solutions for human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance. For more information, please visit www.launchways.com.

About Rocketmiles

At Rocketmiles, we help our customers earn loyalty rewards through hotel bookings so they can travel more. We’re a group of energetic, web-savvy, creative, and analytical individuals with a track record for building new businesses from scratch. We work with loyalty programs worldwide, and attract customers from every corner of the globe. The user experience is curated in-house from start to end: our team includes front- and back-end developers, customer service, data analysts, designers and marketers, accountants, and partnership managers. We began as a start-up, and we were acquired by the Bookings Holdings Group in 2015. With a dedicated team, we’re aiming for the stars. Visit us at www.rocketmiles.com.

Launchways Opens New Chicago Headquarters Amid Rapid Growth

Launchways Opens New Chicago Headquarters Amid Rapid Growth

Launchways, a leading provider of human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance solutions, today announced that it will be opening its new headquarters at 303 W Madison Street Suite 2000, Chicago, IL on April 8, 2019.

The move comes amid a period of rapid growth for the company. Launchways expects to double its size in 2019 to accommodate the growing demand for its human resources and employee benefits solutions. Regarding the decision to double the company’s size and relocate, Launchways President Gary Schafer said “For years we have provided scalable solutions to ease companies’ growing pains. I am looking forward to expanding our team so that we can continue to deliver the highest level of service to our expanding customer base.”

Throughout its growth, Launchways has had a proven track record of success. To-date Launchways has helped hundreds of fast-growing businesses solve their human resources and benefits challenges. Launchways prides itself on its personalized, hands-on approach to helping companies of every size continue to thrive as they scale. At its core, Launchways believes companies of all sizes should be able to offer cost-effective enterprise-level benefits programs that help them compete to attract and retain top talent.

Launchways offers custom solutions for:

  • Human Resources: build scalable human resources processes to unlock the full potential of your workforce.
  • Employee Benefits: provide innovative benefits packages that thrill employees and make every dollar count.
  • Business Insurance: protect your company with comprehensive, cost-effective business insurance policies.

The location of the new headquarters provides the ideal venue for Launchways’ continued success. “The West Loop is the heart of innovation in Chicago, a hub of tech companies, startups, and other industry-leading businesses. Our new headquarters puts us in the perfect position to continue to deliver high-impact solutions for HR, benefits, and insurance to the fastest-growing businesses in the city” said James Taylor, Launchways CEO.

Please visit www.launchways.com to explore our website and learn more about Launchways’ solutions for HR, benefits, and business insurance.

About Launchways

Launchways provides business leaders with the resources and guidance they need to build scalable people processes to support long-term growth. Founded in 2009, Launchways has helped hundreds of growing businesses better approach the people side of their business through strategic solutions for human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance. For more information, please visit www.launchways.com.