Another year, another open enrollment period. As with any other aspect of our professional lives, taking an active and enthusiastic approach to benefits enrollment can set up employers and employees for success. One would think that, with the COVID-19 pandemic still unfolding, that it would be easier than ever to get employees to participate in benefits enrollment, but many companies are still struggling. The value of employee benefits can’t be overstated, the same is true for driving participation.
The Basics of Benefits Enrollment
The annual open enrollment period is the only time, outside of a qualifying life event, where individual employees can enroll or make changes to their benefits. The enrollment period can be incredibly stressful for both employees and employers, as changes to benefits can impact the lives of individual employees as well as the business concerns of their employer. Benefits enrollment is connected to compliance, day-to-day operations, and employee wellbeing – both physical and financial. Participating in benefits enrollment should be a no-brainer, but participation in voluntary benefits is sometimes hit or miss.
Tips for Driving Participation in Employee Benefits
During open enrollment, employees are driven by both logical and emotional factors. Pricing and plan details are big factors for employees, but so are ideas like peace of mind and the desire to plan for their families. Most employees know that it’s smarter to plan for unexpected occurrences, like an accident or illness, but that doesn’t always translate into actively engaging with benefits participation. Here are some practical tips for driving employee participation in benefits:
Connect benefits to employee lifestyle: It’s important to understand that each employee has a different set of priorities and a unique lifestyle. By presenting benefit offerings within the context of real-life applications, employers can demonstrate the value of benefits. For example, connecting accident insurance coverage to employees that have active and adventurous hobbies is a natural fit! For hourly workers, an hour bank solution will make all the difference if they miss work for health reasons.
Encourage an annual review: Studies have shown that taking an “active” decision-making approach increases the likelihood of employees participating in enrollment. One method for doing this is to set up an “opt out” system versus an “opt in.” Automatically enrolling employees in benefits and asking them to simply confirm has the doubled effect of ensuring your employees have some form of protection, while also encouraging them to review their options and consider the option before confirming or opting out.
Communicate effectively: Using multiple communication channels and tools helps in encouraging enrollment engagement. In our hybrid professional environment, regular communication from HR, video and webinar sessions, and comprehensive guides can give employees confidence. When employees are educated in both the benefit offerings and the enrollment process, they are better equipped to make an informed decision. Whether in-person or digital, employers have plenty of options to drive a successful enrollment period. Set your communication schedule several weeks out from the enrollment window, maybe even as much as a month, to give employees time to consider their needs, participate in information sessions, and complete the enrollment process.
The Value of Employee Benefits
Employee health and wellness supports productivity and reduces absenteeism, all of which benefits the business as much as it does the individuals in the workforce. Not to mention that overwhelmingly, employees cite a great benefits package as an important part of their overall work satisfaction. Competitive employee benefits are a means of attracting top-tier talent and retaining a valued workforce.
Now more than ever, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape our personal and professional lives, public health concerns are a high priority and employees are seeking security. Benefits are an ideal means of responding to that need.
Interested in learning more? Check out this blog on how to keep the open enrollment period stress-free.
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