Change Agents: Today’s Employee Benefits Brokers
What does it mean to be a change agent? Is it the latest industry buzzword or is its meaning particularly significant for today’s greater business environment? Change is inevitable, so it’s appropriate that “change agent” is commonly used as a leadership term to describe experts who can manage larger change initiatives with flexibility, accountability, and responsibility. Today’s employee benefits brokers are doing just that by responding to the industry’s overall digital disruption by reinventing themselves through more data and analytics advisory roles. By relying on their industry knowledge, contacts, and change agent skills to facilitate their evolution, employee benefits brokers can become a very different, but invaluable component of the employee benefits ecosystem.
Benefits Brokers’ New Reality
Traditionally, brokers have played an important role in educating employers and employees about the value and features of employee benefits products and services. With the advent of cost-effective collaboration, enrollment technology, and the realities of the pandemic, companies have had less need for human brokers to continue in their traditional, in-person roles throughout sales and enrollment processes. However, with their specialized knowledge of new and evolving types of benefits, brokers continue to play a critical role in helping employers tailor their benefit offerings to best meet the needs of their employees and their companies. As such, they have been pivoting toward more advisory-oriented roles for their employer clients. In addition to consulting-oriented services, brokers continue to provide value with communication and education, albeit more virtually, and with innovative products that anticipate and satisfy employees’ evolving needs.
The Change Agent Challenge
To successfully transition to more customer advisory roles, brokers need to increase their technology and analytics expertise and rely on their preexisting skills and client contacts as much as qualities like flexibility, prioritization, and effective listening. These “soft skills” can help brokers execute new processes, educate their employer clients about the most appropriate benefit offerings for them, and help themselves and their customers adjust to new broker/client paradigms.
While the insurance industry continues to transition to a data- and technology-driven ecosystem, brokers have started their own evolution by shifting to benefits advisory roles from their traditional sales positions. Their advice, service quality, and human touch can help them stand out in an otherwise digitally focused environment. As industry veterans who can reinvent themselves through their customer and product knowledge, as well as their change agent skills, brokers can ensure that they are invaluable resources in a continually evolving industry.
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