Let me say, right off the bat, that I enjoy working with insurance brokers. Although, some of the brokers I’ve worked with in the past might tell you a different story.
I have high expectations — really high. Brokerage services are typically paid through commissions, overrides, standard agreements, or even sharing of prescription rebates. But to me, these services are paid right out of my employee’s pockets, and with that idea in mind, my bar is super high.
Selecting a broker is a daunting task, and I certainly have my list of services I need and expect. If you’ve ever been through a RFP process for a broker you’ll find a common theme: Every broker says they’re better than the other guy. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. But there’s one pivotal point that seems to be present between every broker and their client: the relationship.
It’s no secret. People like to work with people they like. I had a heartfelt discussion with a peer recently. We both shared a common nagging feeling. How do we take our emotions out of a brokerage firm decision? How can we make sure our needs don’t come before the needs of our workforce?
I decided to ask others. I sent out a quick survey to some of my colleagues and surprisingly enough, many reported that their emotions do play a significant part. To some, the weight of the decision was as much as 75%.
As I contemplate that number, I ponder how emotions cross over into all facets of business. Is it really all that bad for anyone to actually like their broker? Well, if I’m going to work with a broker day in, day out, and in-between, I want to feel the vibe. I need to know they understand and care about my employees. If I don’t have that synergy, then it makes me feel like I’m shorting my workforce.
The amount of emotional weight that’s put on a brokerage decision is different for every professional. I’ve known some people to follow brokers as they jump from firm-to-firm. I can see the advantages of doing so, but wonder if they are just resisting change.
New scenery and new services are good now and then. But then I’ve seen others that jump ship with every little dissatisfied service issue that comes up. I don’t think that is fair to the broker or the organization.
What I do think is fair, is taking a good hard look at the numbers. Focus on the services and the value a broker can bring to your workforce. Try to determine if they will help align benefits to your company’s needs. Ask them to demonstrate how they’ve helped others, and justify their financial expense. Then, after you’ve summed up those parts, I suggest you ask peers both in and outside of your organization to make sure your way of thinking is appropriate. If the answer is yes, go with your emotions and set that bar high.
Guest blogger Karrie Andes, SPHR, is a frequent speaker on self-insurance, freelance writer and senior benefits manager in Kansas City. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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