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5 Features to Look for in a Benefits Agency

May 2nd, 2024 | 4 min. read

By Patrick Sanders

Searching for a benefits agency that truly knows your company can be a struggle for everyone. How do you know if this agency understands your people and your process? From managing employee needs to complying with regulations, the challenges can overwhelm your company's foundation.

The right benefits agency should bring knowledge that spans the entire spectrum of employee benefits. Trust us, we know. Payday HCM knows all about the benefits world. How? We have an agency of our own. We understand it’s not just about managing standard health insurance or retirement plans; it's about understanding the current trends in your industry. With knowledge of both traditional and emerging benefits landscapes, having a proficient agency can tailor solutions that resonate with all segments of your workforce.

Choosing an exceptional benefits agency is about forming a partnership that elevates your organization's value proposition to its employees. The ideal agency will alleviate administrative burdens and engage in long-term planning and innovation. In this article, we will show you five features you must look for in an agency to acquire all of the above. By this end, you’ll know what to look for. Here are the five features:

  • The Benefits Agency will Support You in Renewals
  • The Benefits Agency will be there for Open Enrollment
  • The Benefits Agency Will Give Year-Round Compliance Support
  • The Benefits Agency Will Give Your Employees Year-Round Advocacy
  • The Benefits Agency will Align With Your Finances

Feature #1: The Benefits Agency Will Support You in Renewals

Strategic Plan Reviews

Adequate renewal support starts with a thorough assessment of your current benefits plan. A good benefits agency evaluates its performance against company objectives and employee satisfaction. This evaluation includes analyzing how well the benefits are used, identifying underutilized options, and understanding employee feedback to pinpoint areas for improvement. This process ensures that the renewed plan continues to meet the evolving needs of your workforce and aligns with the company's financial and strategic goals.

Negotiation and Market Analysis

The ability to negotiate favorable terms and perform comprehensive market analysis is crucial. An adept agency leverages its industry knowledge and relationships to negotiate cost-effective, comprehensive coverage options. It monitors the market for emerging trends and better packages, ensuring your benefits remain competitive and appealing to current and prospective employees. This market engagement helps mitigate rising healthcare costs and aligns your benefits packages with industry standards.

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Evaluating the financial impact of each benefit option.
  • Customized Coverage Options: Tailoring benefits packages that fit your workforce's unique demographic and needs.


Feature #2: The Benefits Agency Will be there for Open Enrollment

Streamlined Enrollment Processes

A seamless open enrollment period is essential for both HR teams and employees. A proficient benefits agency employs advanced technology and processes to ensure a smooth, error-free enrollment experience. This includes intuitive and accessible online enrollment platforms that reduce paperwork and administrative burdens. Effective agencies also manage the entire enrollment lifecycle, from initial employee registration to handling late enrollments and changes in employee status.

Employee Education and Support

Comprehensive education and proactive support play pivotal roles during open enrollment. A benefits agency should offer various educational tools, such as seminars, webinars, and personalized consultations, to help employees understand their benefits. This academic support should be clear, tailored to diverse employee groups, and available in multiple formats to address all learning preferences and schedules. These initiatives ensure that employees can make informed decisions about their benefits, which leads to higher satisfaction and utilization rates.

  • Decision Support Tools: Providing tools that help employees evaluate and choose the best benefits options based on their needs.
  • Personalized Communication: Tailoring communication strategies to different workforce segments to increase engagement and understanding.

Feature #3: The Benefits Agency Will Give Year-Round Compliance Support

Constant Regulatory Updates

Regulatory compliance in employee benefits requires constant vigilance. A capable benefits agency stays ahead of all legislative changes affecting your benefits plan, from federal healthcare reforms to state-specific employment laws. This ongoing compliance support includes regular updates and briefings to your HR team, ensuring that your company always has current regulations.

Proactive Compliance Strategy

A proactive approach to compliance requires active management of your benefits plans to align with new regulations. This includes adjusting plan documents, updating employee communications, and reevaluating vendor contracts to ensure all aspects of your benefits are legally compliant. An effective agency helps navigate complex compliance scenarios involving multi-state regulations, offering solutions that minimize risk and ensure continuity.

  • Audit Support: Assisting in the preparation for and management of compliance audits.
  • Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating compliance risks associated with employee benefits.

Feature #4: The Benefits Agency Will Give Your Employees Year-Round Advocacy

Continuous Employee Support

A benefits agency should act as a year-round advocate for your employees. This means providing ongoing support to help them understand, use, and resolve issues related to their benefits. A good agency offers a responsive customer service team that can address employee questions and concerns quickly and efficiently, ensuring that employees feel supported and valued.

Benefits Utilization Monitoring

Monitoring how employees utilize their benefits is critical to understanding the effectiveness of your benefits strategy. An exceptional agency tracks utilization rates and analyzes this data to provide insights into employee needs and preferences. This ongoing analysis helps refine benefits offerings to match employee expectations better and improve overall satisfaction and productivity.

  • Responsive Query Resolution: Offering a dedicated hotline or support system for employee benefits-related inquiries.
  • Engagement Programs: Developing programs to increase employee engagement and satisfaction with their benefits.


Feature #5: The Benefits Agency Will Align With Your Finances

Cost-Efficiency Focus

Financial stewardship is a critical component of benefits management. A distinguished benefits agency prioritizes your company’s financial health by implementing cost-control strategies that do not compromise the benefits' quality. This involves conducting detailed cost analyses, exploring alternative funding strategies, and negotiating the best possible prices with providers.

Strategic Financial Planning

Beyond cost control, strategic financial planning entails forecasting future benefits and expenses and adapting strategies to manage cost fluctuations. A forward-thinking agency assists with benefit budgeting, considering current economic constraints and future financial goals. This strategic insight allows for better financial planning and ensures that benefits expenditures contribute positively to the company's economic performance.

  • Long-term Cost Predictions: Providing forecasts that help anticipate future benefits and costs.
  • Value Assessments: Regularly assessing the value delivered by the benefits plan versus its cost to ensure optimal investment.

Enhancing Your Benefits Strategy with the Right Agency

Choosing the right benefits agency is more than an operational decision; it's a strategic one that significantly impacts your organization's ability to attract, retain, and engage employees. A proficient agency not only streamlines administrative processes but also enhances your company’s compliance, financial strategy, and overall employee satisfaction with their benefits.

Partnering with an agency that excels in all five features allows your business to address the complexities of benefits management effectively. This decision will help you improve your workforce's engagement and support, making your benefits program a cornerstone of your human resources strategy.

To integrate these insights effectively, start by thoroughly evaluating your current benefits offerings to pinpoint gaps or inefficiencies. Engage in research to identify agencies with expertise in all these features. Prepare your team for detailed discussions with potential agencies to gauge their ability to meet your needs. We’ve helped numerous organizations with benefits; read how we can be a benefits solution for you.

Patrick Sanders

Patrick has worked for Payday HCM since 2012, with a career that has spanned multiple responsibilities in the sales arena. He now maintains a 300+ client portfolio with a 98% retention rate. Patrick works diligently to determine the optimal utilization of our software, manages ongoing quality assurance, and brings best practices to Payday HCM’s clients. Patrick graduated with a Bachelor's in Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance, from the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. Having spent the decade since graduating meeting and partnering with entrepreneurs throughout New Mexico, Patrick firmly believes Payday HCM brings national Fortune-500 level service and technology to the New Mexico marketplace.