Open enrollment can be an overwhelming time for both employers and employees. For employers, they are tasked with choosing a benefits package that fits within their benefits strategy while balancing cost, value and organizational desire, and then facilitating the enrollment election/selection process. For employees, this is the period of time when they learn about their options, evaluate benefit offerings, and make selections for the coming year.
As employer-sponsored benefits transition to more voluntary, employee-paid, or employee-subsidized offerings, employees must assume more responsibility in making smart decisions. With that said, employers should provide benefits information in easy-to-understand formats and utilize various delivery methods to provide employees with essential information. Remember too that the decision-maker on benefits offerings may not always be the employee, so include spouses and/family members in the communication process.
The following are suggestions, based in part on a recent survey conducted by MetLife®, that may improve your open enrollment process - both for the employer and the employees:
- Survey employees early in the benefit planning process to determine their priorities – what benefits do they desire and how can the value of these offerings be best communicated
- Consider offering new benefits, even if they are 100% employee paid – employees are looking for their employer to make these non-traditional benefits available through the workplace
- Establish a solid, multi-level communication plan – conduct meetings and seminars, offer calculators and other decision-making tools, conduct benefit fairs, create posters and mailings, offer electronic education (web portal resource center, videos, webinars, email blasts), and consider one-on-one meetings
- Customize benefits and information resources to the life stages of your employee population – emphasizing what’s in it for them at this stage of life
- Provide easy-to-use tools for decision making and enrollment selection
- Make plan information as simple as possible – allowing employees to understand the offerings and to make knowledgeable decisions
An effective open enrollment process can have a dramatic impact on the relationship between employers and their employees. By focusing on the needs and wants of employees, employers will make the experience more enjoyable and valuable for their workers – resulting in employees feeling more secure in their benefits decisions throughout the year ahead….not to mention how this may contribute to employee recruitment and retention strategies.