Zenefits is making more than a few brokers shake in their shoes, and for good reason. They’ve determined some key insights for the next phase of benefits administration, secrets employers would do well to learn from and apply to their own vendor selection.

1. One-stop-shop is a requirement. If employers learn nothing else from Zenefits, let it be the importance of the one-stop-shop experience. Their model brilliantly combines the authority and wisdom of brokers and consultants with technology, resulting in a streamlined process that enables people to be more self-sufficient.

Joe Markland, president and founder of HR Technology Advisors, predicts “there will be dozens of Zenefits-like companies in the market within six months. The majority of employers with fewer than 100 employees will look for a single-source technology and services solution in the future.”

Dave Hulsen, co-founder of RFP365
Dave Hulsen, co-founder of RFP365

Businessolver agrees, recently publishing a fantastic article entitled Thinking Like a Millennial: Why Businesses Must Evolve Their Benefits Offerings, which says:

“From physical to financial health, employees – particularly millennials – want their benefits to support all facets of their life and want to manage these benefits in one place. In fact, 81 percent of employees would feel more comfortable if all of their personal assets were included in workplace-related benefits planning.”

It’s clear that the future is in the hands of those that want it all, and want it in one place.

Employer take-away: Make a list of exactly what features you need. When you conduct your RFP, you’ll be able to identify qualified solution providers quickly.

2. Technology has leveled the playing field. Now that millennials are the dominate workforce, there is increasingly going to be an expectation for self-sufficiency in everything, and cutting out middle men whenever possible. As Zenefits demonstrates, technology has leveled the playing field, and there is an escalating desire for self-reliance. Ron Kleiman, CEO at BenefitVision recently stated: “It is no secret that Zenefits and its imitators are using enrollment and HR technology to lure clients and eventually take over as the broker of record. The self-service model is changing the worksite marketing industry and changing it fast.”

"In this new model, the technology is the platform, around which the broker/consultant adds value."

We predict more and DIY (Do it Yourself) vendor selection methods.

Employer takeaway: Brokers used to be your gateway to employee benefits. In this new model, the technology is the platform, around which the broker/consultant adds value. So in your RFP, make sure to ask for client success stories and testimonials.

3. Communication is key. It shouldn’t come as any surprise amidst the recent employee engagement buzz that personal messaging is powerful. Wendy Keneipp, a partner and coach at Q4intelligence, a benefits and insurance consulting company, notes Zenefits’ main competitive advantage may just be their ability to communicate.

“The change in leadership is ‘the first thing I’ve seen from Zenefits that truly makes me worried for independent agencies,’ said Keneipp in a recent article. Not because agencies can’t compete against this business model, she said, but because agencies have spent so many years focused on technology advancements in the industry, they may be struggling to cultivate other aspects, including client relationships, communications and messaging.

At the end of the day, it’s still talent first, tech second.

Employer takeaway: In the RFP, ask for employee communication examples. Look again at those testimonials, not just for financial justification to your board, but for proven success for your employee base.

"Brokers may be losing their appeal as we’re all looking to gain more control."

So what does this mean for vendor selection? What can employers learn from Zenefits? We’d argue the main lesson is that empowerment is everything – purchasers want the ability to choose for themselves, and employees want everything in one place.

In other words, brokers may be losing their appeal as we’re all looking to gain more control.

So, as you prepare for your next RFP consider:

1. Whether or not you even need a broker’s help. You may be able to select your next technology purchase by yourself, or with the help of a consultant.

2. Focusing on one-stop-shop platforms. Millennials expect it.

3. Choosing people and solutions that are clearly focused on you: your needs, making your life easier, and building genuine relationship.

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