Why communication is key for successful voluntary benefits enrollment

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NEW ORLEANS — Making sure employees are educated and engaged with a company’s benefits strategy requires a wide variety of personalized communication, said Nick Rockwell, president at Eastbridge Consulting Group. A one-size-fits-all mindset will not work.

“It doesn't take long in this business to learn the incredible importance around having an enrollment strategy,” Rockwell said at the Workplace Benefits Renaissance conference. “If we don't have a game plan for how to educate employees [on voluntary benefits], everything is for naught. There is no one size fits all, which complicates and creates costs around enrollments. But through partnerships and technology there are opportunities to lessen the burden and still do more.”

Companies often have an enrollment strategy that makes the process easiest for them, without taking into account what the employees actually want. By considering the full impact to employees when picking a communication strategy, companies can improve participation rates and move away from self-serving behavior, Rockwell said. Employers are becoming increasingly mindful of what kind of enrollment their employees prefer.

“Having somebody like a salesperson or an enroller to provide some education and insight to what's being offered and what they may need, is something that a lot of people want,” he said.

Understanding how people like to enroll and receive information is a critical first step. Employers need to make sure that their strategies employ an active election when possible, and should look at multiple communications rather than just one.

“It’s about going beyond just the benefits booklet to try to educate,” Rockwell said. “We have to remind our clients that not everyone is comfortable enrolling for their benefits on a website, so we have to consider all these different solutions.”

Employers are taking the steps to transition their strategy to benefit the employee first. Having a customized and individual approach to benefit enrollment can help companies with retention, and stay ahead of the competition. But it also requires benefit brokers to step up and rethink their strategies to expand their client offerings.

“A lot of organisations are picking up really solid relationship-building sales reps, and bringing programs to market that are really nimble and can be more specific to different niches out there in the industry,” Rockwell said. “There are a lot of different opportunities out there, and we can't let ourselves think that there's only a handful of carriers. This type of competition is good because it’s breeding innovation and change in a way that's quite frankly very good for everybody.”

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