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The Essential Role of a Skilled Advisor in Navigating Employee Benefits
By Burnham
Blog: The Essential Role of a Skilled Advisor in Navigating Employee Benefits

Employer’s Balancing Act: Part 3

In the wake of the pandemic, American employers have been grappling with a multitude of challenges, especially in designing health benefits that are both cost-effective and enticing enough to retain and attract top talent.

Thankfully, skilled benefits advisors have emerged as invaluable allies for employers in this ongoing battle. They bring forth tailored support and solutions that not only add value but also enhance risk management, improve outcomes, and reduce costs. Explore the checklist below to gain insight into the specific ways in which your advisor can transform existing benefits challenges into opportunities for significant cost savings.


Experienced benefits advisors play a pivotal role in assisting employers in uncovering issues within their employee populations that could lead to higher costs. They accomplish this through various methods:

  • Data Gathering: Collecting comprehensive information about your current benefits offerings, organizational culture, and employee demographics.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Conducting interviews with key personnel, such as HR leaders, to gain insights into the existing benefits landscape and potential areas for improvement.
  • Employee Surveys: Administering surveys among employees to understand their preferences, needs, and satisfaction levels regarding the current benefits package.
  • Data Analysis: Analyzing benefits usage and participation data to identify patterns, trends, and potential gaps in coverage.
  • Competitor Analysis: Comparing your existing benefits against those offered by competitors to assess their competitiveness and devising a strategy to enhance them, ensuring your organization remains appealing to top talent.


In the realm of benefits planning, expert advisors serve as invaluable guides, empowering employers to enhance their flexible benefits offerings strategically. These professionals excel in:

  • Embracing Innovative Technology: Advisors recommend integrating advanced technologies like AI platforms and virtual benefits assistants. These tools not only address employee inquiries but also ease the workload on HR teams. They simplify open enrollment, ensuring a personalized experience for employees. Additionally, they grant access to mobile health apps, aiding ongoing medical support, and assist in locating top-notch healthcare facilities, thereby improving care quality while reducing costs.
  • Optimizing Technology Solutions: Advisors provide insights into leveraging technology for benefits delivery. For example, combining AI-driven communication with claims data enables automated messages directing employees towards cost-effective healthcare providers, thereby curbing expenses.
  • Prioritizing API Connectivity: Advisors stress the importance of seamless integration through APIs. Their comprehensive understanding of the benefits ecosystem allows them to facilitate smooth connections between diverse IT systems, enabling real-time data sharing and enhancing benefits coordination.
  • Exploring Alternative Funding Models: Advisors delve into alternative funding avenues such as self-funding, level funding, reference-based pricing, and captives. By steering employers away from conventional fully insured healthcare models, they enable a strategic approach to managing long-term healthcare costs effectively.
  • Conducting Captive Feasibility Studies: For organizations considering self-insurance with fewer than 300 employees, advisors guide them through captive feasibility studies. Captives spread the risk across similar-size groups, providing a comprehensive view of utilization data. This approach aids in identifying cost trends promptly and implementing corrective measures.
  • Maximizing Voluntary Benefits: Advisors offer insights into supplementing traditional offerings with voluntary benefits like life insurance, pet insurance, vision, and dental coverage. These benefits, often facilitated through payroll deductions, become accessible and affordable for employees.
  • Optimizing Pharmacy Benefits: Knowledgeable advisors assess pharmacy benefits management (PBM) structures, assisting in separating these benefits from the health plan. This unbundling minimizes unnecessary fees, simplifies medication access, and reduces pharmacy benefit costs.
  • Evaluating Telehealth Services: Advisors assist employers in selecting carriers offering comprehensive telehealth services. These services provide convenient, cost-effective healthcare, reducing expenses compared to in-person appointments. Telehealth services accommodate remote employees, minimizing time away from work and enhancing overall productivity.


When it comes to implementing strategies aimed at cost containment and aligning care expectations, benefits advisors play a pivotal role by assisting employers in:

  • Selecting Proven Providers: Advisors can guide employers in choosing providers with a track record of cost savings. By offering specific examples and case studies tailored to your organization’s needs, advisors instill confidence in your benefits program decisions. These insights ensure that you select providers who have demonstrated efficiency and successfully curbed costs for similar organizations.
  • Promoting Employee Engagement: Advisors help in selecting providers that offer tailored employee communications, training sessions, and workshops. These initiatives go beyond open enrollment, ensuring year-round engagement. By promoting benefits effectively, employees remain informed about best practices and appropriate care utilization, thereby contributing to cost-effective healthcare solutions for everyone involved.
  • Evaluating Behavioral Health Options: Benefits advisors assist in evaluating behavioral health services, including Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These programs offer a wide array of services addressing mental health concerns in the workplace, with easy accessibility. Advisors also highlight health insurance plans covering these services, including value-added benefits and any limitations, aiding in informed decision-making.
  • Ensuring Smooth Vendor Management: Advisors help in managing vendors and service providers, ensuring seamless integration of services within the benefits program. They oversee the implementation process, guaranteeing that services are integrated as per the agreed terms and prices. This meticulous approach ensures a cohesive and efficient benefits program tailored to your organization’s needs.


In the realm of benefits program evaluation, dedicated advisors play a vital role in assisting employers by:

  • Analyzing Data: Advisors continuously analyze data related to benefits utilization, employee feedback, and costs. By pinpointing trends and areas for improvement, they provide valuable insights into the program’s effectiveness.
  • Collecting Continuous Feedback: Advisors orchestrate ongoing feedback from each step in the benefits process. This feedback loop helps gauge the program’s efficacy and gathers suggestions for enhancements, ensuring it remains aligned with employee needs.
  • Facilitating Regular Meetings: Advisors conduct regular meetings to share updates, review benefits trends (such as remote work and mental wellness initiatives), address concerns, and discuss potential modifications. These sessions provide a platform for proactive discussions and adjustments.
  • Providing Compliance Guidance: Advisors offer advice on compliance matters, especially concerning legal and regulatory changes that could impact the design or administration of the benefits program. Staying abreast of these changes ensures the program remains compliant and effective.
  • Monitoring Open Enrollment: Advisors closely monitor open enrollment, identifying bottlenecks or confusion points. Post-enrollment, they assist in surveying employees to collect constructive feedback about the process. This feedback is invaluable for future improvements, ensuring a smoother experience for employees.
  • Offering Recommendations: Advisors offer tailored recommendations for refining the benefits program based on evolving employee needs and feedback. These recommendations ensure the program remains adaptive and responsive, addressing the changing dynamics of the workforce effectively.

In Summary

Employee benefits advisors take a proactive approach, guiding employers through the entire journey of benefits discovery, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Their role is pivotal in ensuring that your benefits program stays effective, competitive, and in tune with the needs of both the organization and its employees.

Supported by a team of specialized professionals, including trained clinicians, our benefits advisors excel in analyzing and leveraging tools and techniques. They broaden their understanding of employees’ health conditions and behaviors, identify costly trends, and provide actionable steps. These insights empower employers to contain costs effectively while maintaining a robust benefits program.

Contact Us

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you throughout the benefits process.

Or dive deeper into the trends and data about today’s challenging Employee Benefits market in our 2023 Employee Benefits Mid-Year State of the Market.


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