Benefit counselors are the single biggest differentiator for education and enrollment services, and as the benefits enrollment process continues to evolve, a shift in the training approach for counselors is critical.
Every benefits conversation is an opportunity for education, and in order to be effective, it is imperative that benefit counselors know their audience. Within most organizations, there are executives, professional employees and staff members – all with different needs when it comes to enrollment education and support. Some employees need technical support, another employee may have specific questions about the ROI of a life insurance policy and another employee will want a full educational conversation about all of his or her plan choices.
Transitioning the counselor training curriculum from transactional enrollment support to enrollment advocacy is necessary to ensure that benefit counselors are better able to meet the needs of each individual employee they counsel.
Counselors must have the ability to adapt within one employer group and different projects to accommodate a wide variety of needs. In the past, benefit counselors knew the enrollment system, provided guidance on plan features and populated enrollment selections within the system. Today’s more holistic approach features tailored training from the time implementation starts. It is important to work with clients to create a customized enrollment campaign so that all key message points are captured and communicated to employees seamlessly from pre-enrollment throughout the entire enrollment process. Counselor training must be focused on consistency and sharing of information so that the benefit counselor has comprehensive knowledge of what is to be delivered to each employee.
It is important for counselors to understand their audience, as making the wrong plan choices can be quite costly for both the employer and the employee. Participating in a highly interactive and customized training experience helps benefit counselors recognize how each product works in conjunction with all plan choices to meet the specific needs of every employee. A hands-on training program offers counselors the opportunity to learn the plan choices, and then apply learning through mock enrollments resulting in an in-depth comprehension of how to help employees pick the right plan and levels of coverage for their specific situation.
Each counselor must have a thorough understanding of the nuances of every available plan choice, the varying demographics within each company and the contents of pre-enrollment educational tools and materials in order to conduct a successful enrollment session.
An effective enrollment partner will have the ability to focus his or her counselor training curriculum so that it adapts to each employer group and can accommodate a wide range of varying needs.
Kathy Caccese is the Chief Human Resources Officer and Senior Vice President, Benefit Counselor Operations at Univers Workplace Solutions.