When should brokers implement new benefits platforms?
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The benefits and HR tech industry continues to grow — CB Insights reports the sector saw $2.2 billion in 2016 investments — and more brokers are recognizing the need to take their agencies online.
But implementing a new platform is a big undertaking, and it opens up a lot of questions. The first question for many brokers is “When is the right time of year to make the move?”
There are two audiences for this question: brokers and small employers. Brokers are asking “When should I invest resources in finding and implementing a platform?” But it’s best to answer the question from the small employer’s perspective first.For small employers, the right time to go online is the fourth quarter, because they are simply not thinking about benefits at other times of the year. With the fourth quarter as your goal for clients, you will want to be fully implemented and confident about the new platform beforehand.
Go online while your clients are thinking about benefits
As brokers know, small employers rarely have a benefits-focused member of their HR team. If they’re really small, they might not even have an HR person at all, and the person who deals with benefits is often the business owner.
Either way, they just aren’t thinking about benefits year-round. Chances are, they have dedicated a portion of their time during or just before the fourth quarter to handle “benefits stuff.”
This is the time you want to launch your new platform with them. Trying to get the point person to dedicate time outside of their “benefits window” to learn a new platform will just lead to frustration, and it won’t be productive.
The best time to work with your client on going online is during open enrollment, when they are already deep in their “benefits stuff.” They will give their full attention to the move online, and it will be more successful for your client and your agency.
This strategy can apply to large employers, as well; even those who have full HR teams or a dedicated benefits person. Some feel the best time to implement change is during an existing period of change.
However, as a business gets larger, you may reach a point where it makes sense to begin the move online outside of open enrollment. Even here, though, you will want to start only with new hires.
Have new employees make their elections through your platform, building up to having the full team come online during the next open enrollment.
This column is adapted from the book “Online Benefits Technology: The Strategic Broker’s Guide.”
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