It’s that time of the year again. As employers prepare for open enrollment season, many are realizing not much has changed since last year. As we remain in policy limbo – since Congress has yet to decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act and the Federal Reserve continues to hold off on monetary policy changes – business owners are seemingly less rushed to tweak their offerings.
However, this does not mean employers should take a back seat in ensuring the open enrollment process goes smoothly. Now is the perfect time for employers to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of their open enrollment systems. This should include staying up to date with software vendors’ changes and updates and communicating the importance of checking health benefits early and often to employees.
So, what else can employers do to make this a productive open enrollment season?
- Check your tools. As technology becomes more advanced over time, employers are going to be using online and mobile tools more often. In particular, decision-making tools employees can use as part of enrollment systems can be quite valuable, helping individuals and families walk through key factors that help them identify the best benefits for them. For instance, if you have a single income family, and you’re dependent solely on one income, then that income should be protected with disability insurance. Employers should also be communicating cost-estimators to employees, so they have easy access to information that will help them maintain peace of mind. Ultimately, it’s up to the employer to be communicating with employees and making sure they are aware of these tools in order to keep them engaged and making the best financial decisions for their unique situations.
- Keep pace with voluntary benefits. Employers across the country are offering more and more voluntary benefits. As the cost of healthcare increases, it’s vital not to overlook these benefits as they could be key to helping attract and retain top talent. Employees are looking for ways to keep costs down, and having voluntary benefits that could potentially fill a gap could make all the difference. Make sure employees are aware of the full scope of voluntary benefits offered, rather than assuming they have all the information they already need.
- Consider generationally-based benefits. As baby boomers continue to near retirement and millennials take control as the majority of the workforce, their benefits demands are causing employers to take pause and consider their offerings. If you have unique offerings geared toward younger workers, such as student debt repayment or refinancing programs, advertise these benefits like crazy and make sure workers understand the value they bring to the table.
- Ask employees what they really want. Communication is often where employers miss the boat. As previously mentioned, we now have three generations in the workforce; it’s important to recognize how everyone prefers to be communicated with differently, and employers need to meet people where they are. Consider surveying a broad sample of your employee population and get a sense of the communication style they hope to see. Ask: do they prefer in-person meetings, a microsite they can visit at their convenience with the information at their fingertips, or perhaps an informational video? Asking employees what they prefer will allow for stronger engagement and, ultimately, more knowledge transfer.
Even though there might not be many changes for employers to sink their teeth into just yet, there are plenty of steps they can take to ensure their employees are fully aware of all they have to offer. So, ask yourself: are you doing all you can to make sure your employees are taken care of this open enrollment season?