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Inflation continues to cause financial strain for many employees. As open enrollment approaches, members of your workforce may be considering which benefits matter most to them and how to optimize the money they spend on those offerings. As a result, this year’s open enrollment may be more challenging than usual for both employers and benefits providers.
In this article, see how inflation is impacting employees’ benefits selections and what employers can do to ensure a successful 2024 open enrollment.
How Inflation is Impacting Employees
According to The Hartford’s Future of Benefits Pulse Survey, 63% of U.S. employees feel their financial stress has increased over the past year.
To prepare for a possible recession, employees reported engaging in the following activities:
- Cutting back on day-to-day expenses (40%)
- Paying off debt (30%)
- Increasing contributions to savings or investment accounts (23%)
- Looking for a higher-paying job (19%)
- Getting a second job to increase their household income (17%)
Many of these individuals will also be looking to their employers to help them maximize the value of their benefits selections, including retirement savings, health care, health savings accounts (HSAs) and voluntary benefits.
What Employers Can Expect During Open Enrollment
To further prepare for the possibility of a recession, employees will also want to maximize the value of their benefits selections — and they will likely look to their employers for guidance.
In years past, employees may have rushed through open enrollment or stuck with the same benefits choices year after year. In fact, a recent Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey revealed that nearly three-quarters (72%) of adults spent less than one hour deciding on their health plans during open enrollment.
This year, it’s probable that employees will spend more time reviewing the available offerings and carefully considering their benefits selections. By understanding how employees approach their benefits selections, employers can help them make better choices during this year’s open enrollment season.
How to Support Employees
Start Communicating Now
Many employees enroll in benefits as soon as open enrollment begins, so kicking off your benefits communications as early as possible is crucial. If employees are fully informed before open enrollment begins, they’ll be empowered to make the best selections.
It’s important to note that inflation is also affecting employers, and many are adjusting their budgets for medical and voluntary benefits spending this year as a result. If your organization is making changes to your benefits offerings for 2024, be sure to communicate those changes with your employees early on to mitigate confusion during open enrollment.
Leverage Multiple Channels & Cater Your Messaging
A multi-generational workforce calls for the use of multiple communications channels. Leverage emails, webinars, in-person presentations, educational videos and interactive tools to maximize your impact.
Within your actual communications, employ clear language and personalized messaging to demonstrate how complex insurance products fit into your employees’ lifestyles. By simplifying how you talk about your offerings and avoiding the use of benefits jargon, you can ensure your communications resonate with your workforce.
Explain Included Services
Unless they’ve studied your benefits guide cover-to-cover, employees may not understand every service and perk that accompanies their benefits selections, and that may minimize the perceived value of your offerings. You can help your employees understand everything they gain access to by highlighting the lesser-known services included with their coverage, such as legal advice or employee assistance programs (EAPs).
Act Now to Mitigate Inflation’s Impact on 2024 Open Enrollment
Employers have the opportunity to simplify and personalize their open enrollment processes this year to help employees determine how best to allocate their potentially limited resources strained by inflation. By giving employees more time to review benefits offerings and providing guidance along the way, you can help them make the best selections for themselves and their families during this period of financial difficulty.