It’s that time of year again. Benefits brokers all over the country are preparing for open enrollment season. With such a wide variety of benefits available, some of which greatly affect take-home pay, it is more important than ever for employees to pay careful attention to their benefits choices.
But employers are not always well-equipped to guide their staff in this decision-making process. Likewise, many employees glance through benefits booklets in fifteen minutes before rushing off to another meeting or project. This is why it often falls on benefits brokers to help clients and their employees get the most out of open enrollment.
So before you plan your open enrollment meetings, we’d like to offer you our five best tips for streamlining the process and helping employees make the right benefits decisions.
5 Tips for Open Enrollment
1. Utilize Digital Communication Tools
Now more than ever, many employers are willing to experiment with digital communication. Rather than relying solely on the traditional open enrollment meeting with thick paper booklets and Powerpoint presentations, some businesses offer their employees mobile apps, websites, or internal networks dedicated to electing benefits.
As a Zywave partner, you can use HRconnection and offer it to your clients as a hassle-free, convenient tool for communicating benefits information. Of course, you’ll do your open enrollment meetings as well. But many people have a hard time absorbing and retaining the massive amounts of information that they’ll need to make the right benefits decisions. If they’re using HRconnection or another digital communication portal, they can easily access the information later, a piece at a time, as they go through their benefits selections. What’s more, the portal is available 24 hours a day, so they can look through their options at home with a spouse if necessary. Your clients and their employees will appreciate this option.
2. Summarize Changes From Last Year’s Plan
As any benefits broker knows, health plans might keep their name but change their benefits. When employees are happy with the coverage they have, they often decide not to change anything without thoroughly reviewing the renewal materials.
This can be a costly mistake. Employers often change health plans to reduce their own costs, and the results can be higher deductibles and copays, or elimination of certain prescription drugs from their formularies.
On the other hand, the employer might be offering an entirely new benefits option this year. Perhaps your carrier has a new product, or you’ve simply sold your client something new.
In any case, be sure to clearly and succinctly summarize any changes to the benefits options available to employees. Call their attention to these changes during the open enrollment meeting, and include them in a conspicuous place in your handouts and digital communication portal.
3. Ensure That Employees Understand the Benefits and Drawbacks of High Deductible Health Plans
Does your client offer employees an HDHP? These can be beneficial to some employees, but many of them don’t understand how they work or how they’ll affect their finances. Be sure to go over all of the benefits and drawbacks to HDHPs, using several example scenarios to ensure employees can apply the information to their own life circumstances.
4. Encourage Employees to Access Wellness Initiatives
Some of your clients might offer incentives to employees for participating in certain wellness programs. When employees are healthy, it reduces company healthcare costs, boosts job performance, and cuts down on absenteeism. Make sure employees know how to take advantage of these programs.
5. Call Attention to Additional Perks
Some companies offer a wide range of non-traditional perks for their employees. For example, an employer may negotiate discounts on gym memberships or public transportation for their staff. Employees of retail stores and restaurants often get an employee discount or free food. Businesses might offer tuition reimbursement, paid parental leave, or even pet insurance. Even if all of these perks don’t fall under your purview, you can still call attention to them so that employees are aware that they’re available. The over-and-above effort can boost your client relationships.
Open enrollment doesn’t have to be stressful and confusing–for your clients or their employees. With your help, employers and the people who work for them can all get the most out of open enrollment.