How to have the best open enrollment yet

Published
  • September 13 2016, 12:05pm EDT
Choosing the right benefits during open enrollment is not an easy task. It can be confusing, cumbersome and even stressful.

Nearly half of employees say they feel stressed by the enrollment process and only half say they are confident in the benefits decisions they made last year, according to MetLife's 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study.

Here are 10 tips advisers, brokers and consultants can share with their clients on how to make this time of the year a smooth and burden-free process, as provided by MetLife.

Introduction

Choosing the right benefits during open enrollment is not an easy task. It can be confusing, cumbersome and even stressful.

Nearly half of employees say they feel stressed by the enrollment process and only half say they are confident in the benefits decisions they made last year, according to MetLife's 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study.

Here are 10 tips advisers, brokers and consultants can share with their clients on how to make this time of the year a smooth and burden-free process, as provided by MetLife.

Communicate benefits in a way that's clear and concise

Only one-third of employees find their company’s benefits communications easy to understand, according to MetLife. To address this, advisers must clearly articulate benefits offerings, helping employees to understand the value benefits bring to the table and how they can make a difference in their employees’ lives.

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Provide a variety of resources

Advisers should help clients provide a variety of decision-support tools and personalized offerings to help employees learn about their benefit options and make informed decisions about which benefits best suit their specific needs. Employers should provide a diverse set of communications resources, such as a benefits website, mobile app, text message or one-on-one consultations, allowing employees to choose which resource works best for them.

Offer voluntary benefits on ballot

To effectively present and communicate voluntary benefits during open enrollment, employers should offer them “on ballot” in a way that integrates with employees’ core benefit offerings. This way, employees’ benefits options are in one place, reducing confusion and eliminating the possibility that they may see one group of benefits as more important than the other.

Communicate year round

To ensure employees fully understand their benefits offerings and the value they provide, it’s important that employers communicate their offerings year round. Not just in the weeks leading up to open enrollment. By creating a steady stream of messages, employees will be well equipped to choose the benefits that work best for them, as opposed to starting from scratch during enrollment. In fact, nearly two-thirds of employees say they want their employers to communicate about benefits year-round, according to MetLife.

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Offer a wide variety of benefits

Customization, or the ability to personalize benefits selections to meet specific age and life situation, continues to be important to employees. By providing employees with a wide variety of benefits, they can pick and choose which benefits work best for them. In fact, 70% of employees say having benefits customized to meet their needs would increase their loyalty to their employer. This is up from 64% last year, according to MetLife.

Articulate the practical and financial value of benefits

Only 47% of employees agree that non-medical benefits can help them limit their out-of-pocket medical expenses, according to MetLife. To address this, employers and brokers need to clearly articulate the practical and financial value of voluntary products, helping employees to see how these benefits can reduce financial concerns and have a tangible impact on their lives.

Focus on one-on-one communication

Employees, including millennials, find one-on-one consultations with enrollment representatives to be the most effective resource in helping them make benefit decisions – surpassing mobile apps, text messages, and even the benefits website. Nearly two-thirds of employees are interested in one-on-one consultations followed by a mobile app, according to MetLife.

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Explain how less traditional benefits work

While the majority of employees understand how traditional benefits work, such as medical insurance and 401(k)s, fewer report understanding how less traditional benefits work, such as voluntary benefits like critical illness protection, according to MetLife. It’s essential that employers take the time to communicate about less traditional benefits and how they can positively affect their employees’ personal financial situations.

Promote all your benefits, not just some of them

Given that employers need to reach different segments of the workforce, it’s important that advisers stress that they promote and communicate all of their benefits offerings, as opposed to just some of them. More than a third of employees said they primarily don't enroll in non-medical benefits because their employer doesn't promote them and almost a quarter said they were not aware that their employer offered medical and non-medical benefits packages, according to MetLife.

Boost your voluntary benefits offering

Employees want choice in their benefits and the ability to choose the ones that best meet their needs. In fact, more than half of employees said they are interested in having their employer provide a wider array of non-medical benefits that they can choose to purchase and pay for on their own and the same amount said they are willing to pay more for a broader choice of benefit offerings that suits their personal needs, according to MetLife.