Tips for Continuous Learning in the Benefits Field

 In Thinking

It’s no mystery why large employers seek consultants in the benefits space. The industry is complex and ever-evolving, and it’s hard to know where everyone fits in. Even those of us living and breathing this industry every day know the work it takes to stay on top of the latest trends and changes, so it’s no wonder employers seek guidance from industry experts.

To share that expertise accordingly, consultants know the importance of continuous learning in the benefits field. The various benefits challenges, solutions, and news can change at any momentand that can get overwhelming.

When I was a consultant, there were three major opportunities I found helpful for staying in the loop, ensuring I could provide the best recommendations to my clients.

Attend vendor events

Being a consultant naturally means a lot of travelbut not without good reason. Although hopping from plane to plane can get cumbersome at times, you know how valuable those in-person connections are. And it’s more than just the relationship-building; it’s the news you learn.

Much of the time, however, those vendors will be coming to you. Take advantage of those opportunities! It could be something small and simple like a lunch-and-learn, or a happy hour down the street from your office. Evive hosts Idea Exchanges, for instance, in major cities where our consultant partners reside. These low-key gatherings are designed for consultants to talk to our product experts and learn about our latest and upcoming solutions (all while enjoying free hors d’oeuvres and an open bar). Not only does the consultant get to stay informed on new innovations, they can ask questions directly and give feedback.

Of course, events like The Conference Board’s Annual Employee Healthcare Conference and NBGH’s Business Health Agenda and Workforce Strategy serve value as well. From panel discussions to educational sessions to compelling booth experiences, there’s a lot of knowledge for a consultant to take in and bring back to their clients.

Subscribe to newsletters

We all know inboxes can fill up quickly, but be mindful of some newsletters that can reveal very important content to you—news you otherwise could miss out on.

A few subscriptions that have served well for me are: AHIP for a roundup on benefits news; SmartBrief on Workforce for employer news; and Employee Benefit News to keep up with employee values.

Keep an eye out for consultant-specific newsletters, too. I always found these particularly helpful because they gather exactly the information you’re looking for to thrive in your role. This motivated me to create my own consultant-driven newsletter, Spark. On a quarterly basis, I send this out to consultant partners to keep them informed on Evive’s upcoming events, webinars, product information, and anything else consultants might find useful. I put an emphasis on asking for feedback as well, so I can evolve this newsletter to truly meet the needs of the consultant community.

Regular check-ins with your clients

While outside resources, like vendors and industry publications, are often the go-to for learning, remember your clients can be your greatest source of knowledge. Certainly, you already check in with them on an ongoing basis, but those meetings should be more than just you giving them informationnever underestimate the value of what they’re sharing with you.

Take the time to carefully listen to them about what’s been working, what hasn’t, and why those efforts have resulted in the ways they have. This co-innovation approach is something we value at Evive, and we encourage our consultant partners to share what they learn with us, too. These conversations are the most direct way for all of us to truly stay in the loop, and to tailor recommendations and products accordingly.

Get the most from your current efforts

The opportunities I’ve outlined are likely things you’re already doing; I’m simply suggesting you look at them through a new lens. Consider the unique insights you can gain just by visiting the event down the block, taking a minute to read that newsletter, or adding an extra coffee date with your newest client or vendor to your schedule. There are endless ways to continue learning in the benefits field, and sometimes those opportunities are right in front of you.

 

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