Open Enrollment - Feeling Confused, Anxious, Stressed Out?

October 30 2019

Categories: Group Employee Benefits

Open Enrollment - Feeling Confused, Anxious, Stressed Out?

Open enrollment is upon us. Employees often finish the process with more questions than when they started. About 35% of employees have little to no understanding of their healthcare coverage.  62% feel their employer doesn’t serve as a resource for questions they have relating to the benefits program.

Most employees are interested in four things when it comes to benefits:

  • Why do I need the coverage?
  • Which plan best fits my needs?
  • What value does the plan provide?
  • How much is this going to cost me per paycheck?

Without fully understanding the benefit package that is available, employees aren’t moved to try anything new during open enrollment and sign up for the same benefits year after year.  As an employer, employee benefit education is the critical link to the employee placing a “value” on the benefit they receive which is directly tied to employee recruitment and attraction.

Education and Communication are Key

It is crucial to develop strategies that will positively impact employees’ understanding of their benefit options, so they are engaged at open enrollment. There is no generic approach to educating employees. HR professionals need to apply tactics that appeal to different learning styles and demographics. Our country has five distinct generations in the workplace today, so a one-size-fits-all approach will most likely fail.

Physical and digital communication should be used to educate workers about open enrollment and the benefits available to them. Some workers may prefer messages sent by text or email, while others may be more receptive to posters and flyers around the workplace.

Provide materials ahead of open enrollment so employees can review options and ask questions.  Materials can be delivered digitally, through online portals, or through your insurance carrier and broker. This provides information about plans, reminders about important details, and deadlines involving their plan. This allows the employee to digest the plan and gives them an opportunity to ask questions prior to open enrollment. Employees may feel intimidated asking questions in front of a group; they may feel more comfortable asking questions in a more casual setting.

Consider the diversity in your workforce when determining how to best meet the needs of different demographics. Some ideas:

  • Conduct a survey to find out what benefits are important to employees
  • Send a video message or text from the CEO stressing the importance of benefit offerings
  • Offer incentives and giveaways

Keeping the lines of communication open with employees is vital so they feel free to speak their mind, whether feedback is positive or not. This is important interaction between HR professionals and employees, as it allows for learning, growth and process revisions as needed.

Open Enrollment

Open enrollment is often a process that many workers dread. This is a crucial time for employers to help employees navigate decisions that will significantly impact them and their families. The success of open enrollment has a direct impact on attracting and retaining employees. It is wise to look for new and different ways to engage employees during this period; remember that open enrollment is a people-oriented process.

Prepare employees before open enrollment occurs. Provide materials ahead of time, include notices in paychecks, have videos available in breakrooms. Simplify the process as much as possible before the event.

Review previous years’ open enrollment process to make sure the efforts remain relevant and useful to your workers. To be able to innovate and improve processes, feedback is important. Ask employees after open enrollment for their thoughts on what worked and what did not.

Maximize available resources during open enrollment.  Brokers, insurance carriers and other vendors can be important partners in making open enrollment successful. This may be helpful when an employer doesn’t have adequate internal staff to help with the process. It also provides employees with a source outside of the company to discuss sensitive topics and ask any questions they may not feel comfortable asking the employer.

Benefits enrollment takes into account the entire family.  Get spouses involved at informational meetings prior to open enrollment. It is important for spouses to hear presentations and form their own set of questions.

Enrollment strategies are always evolving and what worked well last year may not work this year.  Remember that it is important employees feel supported during crucial moments like open enrollment. The more employees understand, the more productive and engaged they will be.

The Koppinger & Associates, Inc. Difference

We are consultants and advisors who help guide employers in creating benefit strategies, educate employees about their benefits program and assist when problems arise. Our employee benefits team has over 36 combined years of experience.

After fully reviewing renewal options and strategies, Koppinger & Associates, Inc. collaborates with our clients during their open enrollment process to maximize the return on benefits investment and increase employee well-being and satisfaction. Our clients rely on our expertise to prepare and provide open enrollment documents and educational materials to distribute to employees. Our staff conducts open enrollment meetings for many of our clients. Our goal is to guide employees through the process. We are fully prepared to field any questions from employees and discuss in detail scenarios to show why coverage is important and needed. We also educate employees on current benefit trends and averages to help them realize where they fall in the spectrum. To promote employee interaction and participation, and to lighten the mood, we use various methods to engage employees.

We provide that extra layer of confidence to employers. They see that our strategies and resources have presented their benefits package in such a way that employees are able to understand and relate how useful the programs are and how they apply to their own lives. We help make the process bearable for both employers and employees, and make employees feel like they are being supported during this crucial time.

We would love to share what we have done and what we can do for you. Contact us today.

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