Tens of millions of jobs are still open all across America, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau Of Labor and Statistics (BLS). And though the number is gradually falling as people get back to work, a lot of employers are still struggling to bring staff on. What does it all mean for general agencies? What is their role in helping companies retain their employees?
A general agency is pretty much an insurance broker for brokers. It is a company that acts as an intermediary between insurance carrier and brokerage. For example, consider Dallas-based BenefitMall. The company offers general agency services to thousands of brokers throughout the U.S. They represent more than a hundred carriers as well.
Benefits and Employee Retention
The first thing employers tend to look at when considering retention issues is the benefits package. Generally, that means starting with health insurance. Does an employer offer more than one health insurance option? Does the company plan include vision and dental? From there, employers look at things like:
- long-term disability insurance
- health savings accounts (HSAs)
- retirement benefits (401(k)s, etc.)
- student loan repayment.
From the general agency’s perspective, tangible benefits with monetary value are the priority. They can go to carriers to see what they offer. They can offer to represent those carriers with the most appealing benefits options. They can also use whatever leverage they might have to encourage carriers to come up with new products.
But what about the intangible benefits without monetary value? What is a general agency’s role in securing them? It is more of an advisory role than anything else.
Even before the pandemic, there was talk of changing the way jobs were done in order to give employees more flexibility. The pandemic forced discussions to the forefront. It put company plans to gradually introduce more flexibility into overdrive. Now, as we slowly emerge from coronavirus, the demand for employment flexibility remains strong.
A recent study cited by CNBC makes it clear that American workers now think flexibility is more important than a 10% pay raise. Another study cited by the network suggests that as many as 50% of employees who worked remotely during the pandemic want the option of working a hybrid model now that they are returning to the office.
It is clear from the data that job flexibility is quickly becoming non-negotiable. But it is more than just work location. Employees are also looking for the ability to flex their hours and their paid time off. Essentially, they want more control over their work schedules and the environment in which they work.
Flexibility is not something that can be directly addressed by general agency services. But general agencies can still advise their brokers on how to consult with employers on these sorts of things. Brokers can turn around and offer tips for improving job flexibility alongside new insurance plans and other tangible benefits.
Addressing the Great Resignation
We have been hearing a lot about the Great Resignation recently. To the extent that it is real, employers have to work a bit harder these days to retain their best employees. As BenefitMall pointed out in a recent blog post, employees are more ready than ever to look for better opportunities elsewhere.
A general agency’s role in all of this is to work with carriers to make sure the right kinds of products are available to brokers. In their role as a support system to brokers, general agencies have the ability to help employers figure out the types of benefits most likely to help them retain employees.