In the course of many recent calls with small business owners, I asked them what was most on their mind these days and what took up the majority of their time. Each replied (and I paraphrase), "Well, benefits are now the lesser part." I asked, "Lesser to what?" They stated, "Everything. Hiring, firing, compensation, general HR - everything. Benefits are the lesser part."

Our world has changed. HR management and employee benefits are about to collide in a big way.


A new Web technology is born

Some industry thinkers and I have come up with a new forthcoming Web technology - call it "The Box" - in response to what I heard from so many similar small business owners' experiences.

Today, massive compliance libraries dominate most of today's value-added insurance services. The problem is, you have to know the right key words for the search engine or it's likely an unsatisfactory response will result.

The Box flips that experience. First, one identifies a handful of items that can be uploaded from spreadsheets off of any payroll system. Then, when combined with a secret sauce, it tells the user what, when and how to be in compliance - without knowing anything about HR, benefits or compensation. This Web-based technology eliminates the need for an HR person in a small group, where there is plenty to do and no one qualified to do it.

Sell it to any small business in America. It has all the state and federal compliance, newsletters and a toll-free phone link to experts for those complicated situations. HR management for small business becomes super-centralized with top-notch data backup.

The controversial, if not inevitable, part of The Box makes it so that small business no longer needs a broker in a traditional sense. I emphasize traditional sense. This is a new and more efficient way of selling. The Box will be the broker, and through its employee portals will allow employees to purchase benefits that their employer makes available for them. Commissions will go to the licensee of The Box - not the broker - unless, of course, the broker is the licensee selling the box to the employer.

This sophisticated, smart tool figures out complex tasks that an employer must do. Helping employees buy benefits will be a snap. This will change the way benefits are sold to small groups.

Welcome to the new method of small-group brokerage sales. No more jumping into a car for a small-margin, high-maintenance account! Fewer dumb questions, too, since The Box handles most of those. It forms the hub for the new brokerage, which drastically changes ways of doing business by making you a smarter, holistic seller - complete with the major part: HR management.

I have seen The Box because my company, Davidson Marketing Group, is producing it, and it is half complete. The Box represents the opportunity for new revenue with less service required for most small business accounts. This is something for you to create new revenue. Some brokerages may run from the idea, but technology marches on in the collision of small business HR and insurance procurement through this employer self-service technology.

I would like to learn your thoughts on this new, upcoming technology and how you view its entrance onto the industry scene. E-mail me.

Davidson, CEBS, is founder of Davidson Marketing Group and FutureOffice Network. He is also on the faculty at the Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Reach him at


Photo: ThinkStock

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