10 of the Most Common Mistakes When Selecting Employee Benefits

Broker on the phone


Although brokers are a valuable resource to their clients all year long, this time of year proves especially important. Most companies are finalizing their benefit offerings right now and are looking to you, their brokers, to be a trusted advisor.

As much as you want to focus on what to do when helping your clients, don’t forget about what not to do. You don’t want them to make a critical mistake during benefit selections that will impact their employees for an entire year or even cause them to leave their jobs.

To help clients stay on the right track this enrollment season, we’ve put together ten of the most common mistakes your clients might make, and how to lead them to success instead.

  1. Missing key deadlines

Missing deadlines might seem like the most obvious mistake to make, but it’s the easiest item to lose track of. With everyone’s end of year schedules filling up and distributed teams trying to communicate, enrollment deadlines can fly by.

How you can help: over-communicate with your clients. Send reminders and resources to help them stay on track for their tasks.

  1. Keeping things “the way they’ve always been”

Some companies make the mistake of defaulting to whatever plans and benefits they’ve offered in past years. But every year circumstances change, with 2020 changing just about every aspect of work and life.

How you can help: Sit down with your clients and specifically ask how their needs have changed in the past year. Compare the new needs with the old benefit offerings and recommend a better fit that they might not even know exists.

  1. Ignoring payroll tax savings opportunities

When companies need to be conscious of their bottom line, they tend to resort to cutting coverage or benefits options as a first resort. But providing options that offer a tax benefit is a great way to cut back on expenses without taking anything away from employees.

How you can help: For clients that don’t already have them, be sure to present the tax benefits of HSAs, FSAs, and Dependent Care accounts.

  1. Forgetting to explain the differences between HSAs and FSAs

It’s not just enough to offer HSAs and FSAs -- if employees don’t understand the difference between the two and which is best for them, they likely won’t enroll in either.

How you can help: Provide resources that your clients can use to explain the difference between HSAs and FSAs to your clients. Our recent blog post is a good place to start.

  1. Leaving telemedicine out of their plans

Telemedicine often gets overlooked, but now’s the time to urge clients to add it. The COVID-19 pandemic has made telemedicine a popular option among many doctors now, so it’s a much more accessible benefit.

How you can help: Show your clients the vast number of plans that are now supporting telemedicine, and provide educational materials they can use to help their employees.

  1. Checking boxes just to check boxes

Quality matters when it comes to retaining employees and creating a positive work culture. But often, companies select benefits like wellness programs or financial stability programs based on the first one they come across just for the sake of having one. Simply “checking a box” could leave employees with sub-par programs.

How you can help: Schedule time with clients to take in-depth looks at popular options to help them choose based on quality.

  1. Failing to listen to, and address, employee needs

This year more than ever, benefits plans need to be crafted around needs. Your clients should make an extra effort to really listen to their employees’ needs and offer benefits that address them. Unfortunately, some of your clients will choose the convenience of keeping their plans the same over analyzing needs.

How you can help: Provide your clients with surveys they can send their employees to get a better understanding of their needs. Then, work with them to select options that address them.

  1. Not striking a balance between traditional and ancillary benefits

While it’s important to offer “standard” benefits, ancillary benefits are important for attracting and engaging a workforce. Conversely, offering only “trendy” benefits and forgetting about core benefits will leave employees lacking coverage they need.

How you can help: Make sure clients cover their bases with benefits like health insurance and retirement savings, while helping them select voluntary benefit options like student loan assistance and commuter benefits that fit into their needs.

  1. Ignoring the elephant in the room

COVID-19 is still impacting businesses and people. It’s likely changed a core element of your clients’ businesses, whether it be an industry-wide change or a shift to remote work. Failing to take that into consideration will leave employees with benefits that don’t meet their needs or are irrelevant to their “new normal.”

How you can help: Have a candid conversation with clients about the impacts of COVID-19 on their businesses and align their benefits strategy accordingly.

  1. Not communicating enough

Employees can’t enroll in benefits that they have no information on, or if they do not know anything about the enrollment process.

How you can help: Help clients create and distribute informational materials and communicate often. If this is something they struggle with, recommend a benefits administration software platform that has the ability to send out mass notifications, host a resource center, and can provide enrollment assistance and decision-support tools throughout the process.

While there are many ways you can help your clients as they prepare to select benefits, helping them avoid a costly mistake like the ones above will make a big difference in how successful their enrollment period and upcoming year are.