Often, in your first meeting with a broker about open enrollment, you may find yourself doing more listening than talking. Brokers have lots of data and ideas to share, and in their enthusiasm to be indispensably helpful, they might not let you get a word in edgewise.
To prevent this from happening, think in advance about the items YOU want on the agenda. Then, in the weeks leading up to your first planning meeting, reach out to make sure your broker is prepared to discuss those items when you get together. Here are four high-level requests to consider making, regardless of your particular goals or priorities:
#1. Ask for a “touch-base” schedule (to prevent surprises)
When brokers get busy, they can be hard to get ahold of. And if you’re not checking in with your broker, there’s a good chance something will slip through the cracks.
Ask your broker to create a “touch-base” schedule that takes you through the end of open enrollment. Suggest short monthly updates, then a longer session a few weeks before open enrollment starts, and a final recap a week or so after open enrollment ends. You can touch base by phone or email, but the quicker these dates get on your calendars, the more secure your collaboration will feel.
#2. Ask for a simple summary of the financial report
If you’ve never seen a benefits financial report, you’re in for a treat—especially if you’re self-insured. Imagine if a truck full of accounting spreadsheets hit a train carrying the world’s biggest financial PowerPoint presentation. Seriously, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the raw data, especially if you don’t have a sense of the big picture.
Ask your broker to put together a one-page summary that covers the high points. It’ll help you during the meeting, and afterwards you’ll have an easy-to-understand reference you can review and share with others at your company.
#3. Ask about additional services included with their fee
It’s a given that your broker will handle your vendors, negotiate prices and provide you reports. But many offer additional or ancillary services that are included as part of their fee—services you may not be taking advantage of. Ancillary services can vary, but some brokers provide HR specialist support, salary market data, wellness experts, and basic health care guidance from their on-site attorney.
Ask your broker to email you a list of any other services included with your existing fee that you may not be using. If any of those sound interesting or helpful, ask your heart out during the meeting.
#4. Ask about upgrading your benefits communications
The sooner you talk to your broker about benefits communications, the better. You don’t want to be scrambling to find and implement a communication solution just before open enrollment.
Ask that your broker comes to the meeting ready to talk about two communication tools that would be a good fit for your company. Ideally, these tools would help your employees make smarter choices during open enrollment AND provide education throughout the year. If something sounds promising, ask to be included in a full demo as soon as possible, so you’re equipped to make a decision sooner rather than later.