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November 19, 2019

Speed, Access, and Partnership: Findings from New Research on Employee Benefits Analytics [Part 1]

Artemis Health

Artemis Health recently conducted original research on what employee benefits leaders really want from their partnerships with brokers, consultants, and other partners in the benefits industry. In this series of blog posts, we will recap what we found in the research study, including what benefits leaders told us about their goals, motivations, and challenges. In each part, we will showcase a selection from our larger research paper, which you can find here.

About the research: 

The very nature of employee benefits is changing dramatically — and not least for consultants and brokers. Group plans are becoming more complex. Expectations are rising from employers and employees. And the need for better health, greater productivity, and more favorable financial outcomes are more important than ever. To give consultants and brokers a helping hand in meeting these needs, Artemis Health sought insight into the perspectives of 300 HR and benefits leaders at enterprise organizations across the U.S. We focused on organizations with 5000+ employees across all industries.

Views on Benefits Consultants and Brokers: It’s Complicated

Forward-thinking brokers and consultants are always looking for opportunities to help clients. Our study shows that the overwhelming majority of benefits leaders partner with consultants and brokers today — and 89% of benefits leaders place a somewhat to extremely high degree of trust in their opinions. However, only 20% of benefits leaders say they rely most on consultants and brokers when making major decisions about their benefits program.

In other words, benefits leaders trust consultants and brokers. But when it’s time to pull the trigger, they don’t perceive those same people as go-to resources.

What explains this gap between benefits leaders’ perceived trust in consultants and brokers and their tendency to forgo their counsel? Another key theme from the study may shed some light here:

Benefits leaders believe data is incredibly important to running a best-practice benefits program. They also believe it’s key to a strong partnership with a consultant or broker. However, benefits leaders are more likely to believe they have the right skills and team members internally to draw meaningful insights from their data than the right external advisors to get that same insight (including partnerships with consultants and brokers).

Although consultants and brokers have long been trusted advisors to companies with 5,000 employees or more, it’s clear that something has shifted. Maybe benefits leaders are looking for more tangible insights from their partners — more actionable support to face their biggest challenges.

Benefits Leaders Are Focused On Organizational Goals

As benefits leaders face increasing pressure from the market and increasing demands from employees, it’s critical to understand how they are prioritizing their many objectives — and what they really care about.

Just like everyone else, benefits leaders are accountable to the bottom line — and also have unique dreams and motivations that drive them to do what they do. What do these aspirations look like for benefits leaders, and how might they affect the way they run their programs?

When asked about what motivates them in their work, about a third of benefits leaders said they are primarily motivated to help the organization meet its goals (32%). Other benefits leaders said they’re most motivated by improving workplace culture (23%), helping employees get better healthcare (20%), or saving the company money (20%).

Drastically fewer benefits leaders are primarily motivated by moving to the next level in their career (7%) or proving the value of HR and benefits to the C-suite (7%). We can see that while personal motivations vary, benefits leaders are, by and large, driven by a greater purpose.

The majority of benefits leaders are focused on organizational goals and needs — more than their own, those of their team, or even their own career. They are big-picture thinkers and team players who focus on the success of the organization over their own.

Beyond motivations, benefits leaders see themselves as task-oriented, tech-savvy leaders. A high majority of respondents agree or strongly agree that they enjoy complex, detailed tasks, seek out tech-savvy solutions, and want to be in control of every part of their benefits programs. They were less inclined to agree that they prioritize helping employees over worrying about costs or collaborating with peers outside their organization.

At companies of 5,000 employees or more, this makes sense. Benefits leaders at these organizations are facing increasingly complex benefits plans, continually shifting regulations, expanded C-suite expectations, and evolving employee needs as the demographics of today’s workforce change. Benefits leaders see themselves as diligent and innovative, wanting to take ownership and make an impact on their organization.

This is just the beginning of our research. Stay tuned for additional parts in this blog post series to learn more about benefits leaders’ motivations, perceptions about their brokers and consultants, and relationships with healthcare data analytics.

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