Reinvent Yourself and Increase Your Service Offering
The work of benefits brokers and consultants is much more complicated and has much more potential than the title would lead us to believe.
Sure, brokering healthcare plans, life, disability, and other insurances is part of what we do, but that part has become a commodity. What we really offer our clients is the ability to increase productivity and save money in creating programs designed to increase employee engagement and retention. So, if we take another, deeper look at our profession, I think we can extend our job titles to Productivity Consultants.
We design programs that increase productivity through myriad services, including assisting employers in choosing insurance plans, providing guidance on benefits packages and how to minimize costs, offering compliance information, educating employees on their benefits plans, etc. Without these programs, employees would be less healthy, stressed beyond their limits, concerned about finances, and likely unable to retire. In each of the above, if our programs are designed properly and executed with aplomb, there is an increase in efficiency, which directly correlates to an increase in revenue.
The five buckets of productivity I have outlined below are opportunities for employers—both brokerages and the clients we serve—to increase revenue by creating an optimal work environment. This is a research-based process (dozens of independent surveys from Gallup, Workforce, SHRM, and others) that shows proven results and is calculated to generate an increase in top line revenue of over $300 million for a company of 1,000 service employees.
Absenteeism and Presenteeism have multiple causes, ranging from stress, to poor management, to suffering abuse at work—the cost to the organization is large. The actual cost of presenteeism (working but not being present) is 10 times higher to the company than absenteeism. Employers can measure absenteeism and presenteeism using a number of different formulas. Two popular formulas are those created by Gijs Houtzager and Rachel Blakely-Gray. As an example, using the Rachel Blakely-Gray formula, we would take the “Average # of Employees X Missed Workdays” and divide it by the “Average # of Employees X Total Workdays” to find an employee’s absenteeism rate. (See diagram below.)
ROI Example (Metric): If you take steps to reduce this problem, the company will increase productivity and therefore revenue. A 50% reduction in absenteeism = $3,900,000 to the top line.
Whether caused by emotional, physical, or financial distress, lack of employee well-being can cripple an organization in every aspect. Employers can measure workforce well-being through healthcare costs, participation rates in the program, morale, retention, and surveys. Overall, programs need to be strategic and specific for the organization.
ROI Examples (Metric): UnitedHealthcare found that you gained one to four dollars for every dollar invested. RAND Corporation found that wellness programs that included lifestyle and disease management reduced an employer’s healthcare costs by approximately $30 per member per month, with disease management being responsible for 87% of those savings. PepsiCo found that their disease management program “provided a substantial return for the investment made.”
Lack of employee engagementhas similar causes to absenteeism and drains productivity. According to a Gallup survey, 70% of employees are disengaged in the workplace, costing companies $450 billion-$550 billion every year due to productivity issues such as delays in delivering products and services, high turnover rates, employee theft, and the spread of negativity to other employees and clients. Through carefully designed surveys, employers can measure engagement and avoid these productivity drains. The benefits of this include the ability for employees to submit feedback honestly and anonymously, and allowing employers to respond to issues within the workplace and cultivate a happy work environment. According to Gallup, engaged teams have 17% greater productivity.
Poor use of technology leads to poor collaboration and 20% of time wasted tracking down information. For every 1,000 employees, that’s $15 million of lost time. The McKinsey Global Institute found that high-skill and high-knowledge workers saw their productivity increase by up to 25% after companies took the time to fully implement social technology solutions designed to keep employees in direct contact with each other.
One way to counteract low employee productivity and performance is to optimize the workday. Implementing programs that address the list of 15 items below, with corresponding changes to behavior, can increase productivity enormously. In doing so, you can increase revenue $261,000,000 per every 1,000 employees. The diagram shows the impact from improved processes.
In providing these services to meet the needs of not only our clients, but also our employees, we will see an increase in engagement, optimization, and well-being, thereby increasing revenue. The first step is to determine a base metric of the five buckets of productivity, then work with a beta group and train them (you can design these programs or work with third-party trainers).
By broadening your offering, we broaden what it means to be benefits brokers and consultants. In practicing these methods throughout my career, I have found that we have the power to promote a positive and dynamic work environment with proven results. It all starts in re-defining our roles.
Richard Polak is a global HR consultant and author.