2022 Won’t Be Any More Certain for Benefits Brokers
Bad businessman trying to convince to a suspicious client during a difficult negotiation in a desktop at office

2022 Won’t Be Any More Certain for Benefits Brokers 

The last two years have been anything but predictable for benefits brokers, advisors, and general agencies. It does not appear as though 2022 will be any different. Closing in on the end of Q1 at the time of this writing, there is as much uncertainty about 2022 as there was at the start of the COVID crisis some two years ago.

This is by no means a suggestion that brokers and general agencies should throw up their hands and surrender to trying times. Rather, times of uncertainty often prove to be times of opportunity. 2022 could be the year that one or two general agencies emerge from the middle of the pack to become industry leaders. It could be the year that previously unnoticed brokerages suddenly get noticed by adding considerably to their books of business.

  • What Clients Need Most

The ultimate end user for both general agencies and brokers is the client. That client is the employer who purchases health insurance, vision and dental packages, and so forth. And what clients need most in 2022 is expert advice that helps them make sense of a constantly changing benefits environment.

The pandemic upended everything. Not only did it force businesses to shut down for a certain amount of time, but it also entirely restructured the workforce. That restructuring is clearly seen in:

  • Remote Work – Some companies have done so well with remote work that they are in no rush to bring people back to the office. Remote work could actually be permanent for them.
  • Hybrid Work – Other companies see the value of remote work but prefer to operate in a hybrid model. Workers come into the office on some days and work remotely on others.
  • The Great Resignation – Over the last 18 months, we have witnessed what has been termed the ‘Great Resignation’. Employees are leaving their jobs in droves, hoping to find better opportunities elsewhere.

BenefitMall, a Texas company that offers general agency services to thousands of brokers, suggests that the Great Resignation could be the most challenging issue facing employers in 2022. There simply aren’t enough workers willing to do the work. Without a full staff to depend on, companies struggle to provide core products and services.

  • Competition and Compliance

The struggle to remain fully staffed only enhances the competition among employers to hire and retain top talent. The one thing that has not changed in that regard is the value of a strong benefits package. But there is a hidden trap here: the tendency for general agencies and brokers to assume that all benefits have to be tangible and/or monetary.

Health insurance is still important. So are retirement plans, life insurance, etc. But the pandemic has caused a shift in how employees perceive the use of their time. They are no longer automatically agreeable to allowing their careers to dominate. They want time to do other things.

The other side of the competition coin is compliance. The rules and regulations governing employee benefits have changed as a result of the pandemic. Some of the earliest changes were allowed to expire at the end of 2021. Yet other changes have either been extended or made permanent. Thanks to COVID, employers have an entirely new compliance regime to worry about.

What does all this mean for general agencies and brokers? It means that the most important service they can provide in 2022 is navigation. This is the year to focus less on bottom-line sales and more on effective communication and the advice clients need to navigate a benefits waterway that is rather turbulent right now.

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